Sports | Matt Kelley
Lovdahl talks to Hall of Famer and former MVP Rod Carew at a Twins youth camp. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of lpabaseball.com
Perhaps more than any other sport, baseball is lived instead of simply played, as evidenced by the life of Erik Lovdahl. With a trio of baseball endeavors, Lovdahl has managed to make his living entirely from the American pastime and, perhaps more importantly, to express his spiritual and family lives through baseball as well.
It all started after Lovdahl, a 1987 graduate of Roseville High School, completed his career in minor league baseball. While coaching a high school team, he received multiple requests for private pitching lessons, so he founded the Lovdahl Pitching Academy, which provides group and individual coaching.
In 1999, Lovdahl was hired as the pitching coach for the Bethel baseball program, and he happily served in that position for five years, relishing the chance to integrate faith and coaching. In 2004, however, he was offered an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
In previous correspondence with Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan, Lovdahl had expressed interest in pitching batting practice for the team. While on Bethel’s annual spring break trip to Florida, the southpaw got his chance to audition, since the Twins hold spring training in the same location.
Lovdahl was hired and began throwing batting practice before all Twins home games in the 2004 season, but he also completed the year with Bethel’s team. He found the time commitment of both jobs – combined with his growing academy – to be too much. He chose to leave his coaching position at Bethel behind to focus his efforts at Target Field, where his responsibilities also include coordinating the Twins’ youth camps.
Over the 10 years he has spent with the club, the Twins organization has touched every aspect of Lovdahl’s life. His daughter, now 19, and his twin sons, now 15, were raised in a major league environment.
“The Twins have been so good about my kids,” he said. “The kids have kind of grown up with the Twins, because [Twins manager Rod Gardenhire] would let them into the clubhouse.”
Last spring, however, Brian Raabe took over as the head coach of Bethel’s program. Raabe, a long-time friend of Lovdahl, approached him about coaching again. For the past two seasons, Lovdahl has been a part-time assistant with the Royals. Although Twins games sometimes interfere with Bethel games and practices, Lovdahl works as an extra set of eyes for pitching coach Tim Beasley to correct mechanics.
Lovdahl also likes to stress mental preparation and toughness to his players – attributes that he said he admires most in the major league players he has encountered at Target Field.
“That’s what’s amazing. Obviously it’s a glamorous life – big-time money for these guys,” he said. “But people don’t realize that major leaguers are at the ballpark working by 1:00 for a 7:00 game.”
Although his time with Bethel’s team is limited, Lovdahl’s current situation provides non-stop baseball and the perfect balance. His role at Bethel allows him to integrate faith into coaching, his job with the Twins provides the prestige of big-league atmosphere and his academy allows him to recruit for Bethel and give in-depth instruction. Not a bad way for a baseball lifer to make his living.