CEDAR RAPIDS — The goal is to make it to the major leagues, but it’s always nice to spend some time at home on your way there.
This isn’t technically home for Cedar Rapids Kernels hitting coach Mike Eylward. He’s a Florida guy: born in Clearwater, went to college in Tampa and lives there now.
“I don’t like winters here,” he said with a smile, prior to Wednesday night’s 10-7 loss to Burlington at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “No way. I want to be outside.”
Call this Eylward’s pseudo home. He played with the Kernels in 2001 and 2002 and is in his second season as a coach for them, sort of making him an honorary Cedar Rapidian.
His wife, Kristin, is a Linn-Mar graduate, with Mike, Kristin and their seven-year-old son, Aiden, living this summer with her parents, Marcia and Howard Garrison. In the vagabond world of professional baseball, the Eylwards consider themselves fortunate.
“I couldn’t ask for a better setup right now,” Mike Eylward said. “Baseball is a tough job to have on your family. I get to have my family here most of the time.”
“We love it,” said Marcia Garrison. “It’s the perfect scenario for us … To have them here all summer, and this is the second year. Hopefully it’ll be another year, too, but we’ll see.”
Mike and Kristin were setup for a date back in 2002 by Kernels teammate Dan Mozingo. He was dating a local girl Kristin knew.
She ended up moving to Florida in the offseason to be with him, and they’ve been married eight years.
“We clicked right away,” Kristin said. “At first, I didn’t even know he played baseball. I had no idea … I moved to Florida with him that offseason, and I’ve been traveling with him ever since.”
To places like Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Little Rock, Ark., Reading, Pa., and Salt Lake City. And Cedar Rapids, of course.
“I never watched any baseball before I met Mike,” Kristin Eylward said. “I do now, though. I know more about it than I want to.”
The Kernels (34-42 overall) dropped to 2-4 in the second half by dropping a game featuring 26 hits. Starting pitcher Cam Bedrosian was pulled after walking the first two hitters of the third inning with an injury to his foot, Manager Jamie Burke said.
Trevor Hairgrove and Frazier Hall homered back to back in the fifth inning for Cedar Rapids, which begins a six-game road trip Thursday night at Quad Cities.
Here is a copy of the game boxscore: