Ever since Brandon Eller was young, his typical day has always contained one ingredient—baseball. That is because since the days of his youth, he has been on the diamond in some capacity, either playing or coaching.
“I just love the game,” Eller said after his American Legion team’s 8-7 walk-off win over Jacksonville in eight innings on Tuesday.
And he is good at it. Eller garnered numerous individual awards as a high school pitcher for Sylvan Hills including three All-Conference e honors and was named All-State twice. He was Arkansas’ Player of the Year his senior year in 2005.
“He is the best hitting shortstop I’ve ever had,” said Bears coach Denny Tipton.
But of all the hardware he has collected over his prep career, only one thing stands out.
“It’s the state championships,” Eller said. “I wouldn’t trade what our teams did for anything.”
Eller parlayed high school success into a solid career at Arkansas State even with a bit of an ominous outset. Eller injured his shoulder during his freshman year after signing as a pitcher. The injury forced him to switch positions, but it didn’t affect his resolve or his career success.
He went on to play in every game the next three years, starting all but one at either first base, second or as the designated hitter. He led the team with 19 multi-hit games during his senior year including three-hit performances against Michigan State, Tennessee-Martin and Western Kentucky. His .290 average during his senior season was good for third on the team including 16 doubles which was a team high. Eller won the Terry Gwin Award in 2009. He was also named Academic All-American twice during his college career, once as a third teamer and once to the first team.
Now Eller, who got his first job at North Little Rock, turns his attention away from playing baseball and is now focused on coaching. He has been an assistant at both the high school and American Legion levels since college.
He is in his first full and last season coaching American Legion baseball in Sherwood. After serving as an assistant to the Sylvan Hills Bears under coach Denny Tipton, Eller will take the same position at Valley View under former ASU teammate Josh Allison, who himself left Stuttgart after last season to return home to Jonesboro to assist John Burgi. Allison was elevated after Burgi retired.
One of the thrills Eller has gotten to experience is coaching and teaching his youngest brother Connor, who will play college baseball at Crowder College in Neosho, Mo. next season.
“It’s been fun watching him and coaching him,” Eller said. “Sometimes I have to be careful. We didn’t always see things eye to eye, but he’s a good kid and a good player.”
Brother Nathan is also coaching with Brandon for the Sherwood legion team. Nathan played for the Henderson State Reddies during his college career and earned all-league honors.
Having three brothers is a treat for the Ellers’ parents as well.
“Mom loves it,” Eller said. “She would be out there if it was just me coaching, but she gets to see all of us.”
Eller paved the baseball way as a player and all three brothers followed. His coaching career will certainly keep the Eller baseball tradition going strong.