SARASOTA, Fla. – David Lough is getting ready for his first opening day in the majors. Not bad for a kid from Akron, Ohio, who played college baseball in Erie, Pa.
Not many major league players come out of Akron and fewer attended Mercyhurst College in Erie. Lough is actually the third major leaguer to play for the Division II school in northwest Pennsylvania.
“Always had the dream of playing in the big leagues some day. Also liked to play the other sports, too. Could I play football in the NFL at my size? Probably not. Kicker maybe. Baseball was always an option,” Lough said.
Lough, who is known for being strict about his diet, wanted to play both baseball and football in college, and Mercyhurst afforded him that opportunity.
“I was trying to help my parents out. It was a full ride scholarship to play two sports. I was going to play Division I soccer. I had a lot of D-I offers to play soccer. I liked baseball well enough to give up soccer,” Lough said.
Winter lasts a long time in Erie, and Lough’s college numbers weren’t what he wanted them to be. He was drafted as a junior despite the handicap.
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“My stats could have been better at some division I [schools]. It was good competition, it wasn’t division I competition. I put up good enough stats to get drafted. I’m not afraid to go up against anybody,” Lough said.
There are a number of great collegiate baseball rivalries. Gannon-Mercyhurst is not in the same category as USC-UCLA and Auburn-Alabama.
Those are the games Lough’s teams wanted to win the most. He enjoyed playing football against Gannon when he was a kickoff and punt returner. He also was a wide receiver and kicked off as a freshman.
“I can’t be a kicker. I can’t look mean,” Lough said. “I kicked in high school, that’s how I got recruited. At first I got recruited to play soccer strictly from kicking. I ran a route, and then they said, you have to be a receiver. I blew past everybody, scored a touchdown.”
Lough didn’t fashion himself as a football expert in high school
“I didn’t know much about football. I got in the huddle. My QB had to tell me what to run because I didn’t know the plays because I went from football practice; I didn’t even stay all the practice to soccer practice. I was a busy guy at the time,” Lough said. “I did play basketball in the winter. I was a pretty decent basketball player. I was more of a defensive player.”
Even though he’s a basketball player from Akron, he doesn’t know the most famous athlete from his city, LeBron James. But basketball was really an afterthought. He went through a lot to play baseball in college.
“There was a time when we got up in the morning, and there was a doubleheader Saturday. Snow was covering the field. There were probably four inches on the ground. It was still snowing,” Lough remembers.
“Our coach, he was all about getting games in. He didn’t want cancellations, he didn’t want any of that stuff. He didn’t want to affect the record we had. We all went out there. He was in his little snow plow, plowing the outfield. We all had shovels in the infield, taking snow and putting it in trash cans. We cleared the whole thing off and ended up playing a doubleheader. We were exhausted afterward.”