In the 1980’s, the St. Louis Cardinals won three pennants
and one World Series playing Whiteyball. The middle of the infield during those
years was anchored by Ozzie Smith and his double play partner Tommy Herr. In the
dugout during that time, Tommy’s son Aaron would be hanging around with the
guys, as much as a five year old could be part of the gang. Aaron was born in
1981 so he hung around just for about seven or eight years, enough though, to
become a Cardinal fan. As most Cardinal fans know, it doesn’t take much to
become a loyal Redbirds fan for life.
After the situation not working out in the Atlanta Braves organization,
the Springfield Cardinals signed Aaron Herr 21 games into the current
season. Early on in his minor
league career, Aaron was never known for his power, but as of this writing he
was tied for second in the Texas League with 21 home runs after 99 games. I
asked him about his power surge, his growing up the son of a major league ball
player, and about his goals.
welcome to Springfield. It’s not quite
about 213 miles from the parent club. But you’re familiar with
Louis quite a
bit, tell us about that.
Well the first eight years of my life I lived the whole
summer there, when my Dad was playing for them (Cardinals). We lived in
Chesterfield. It was like my home
away from home. I’d go there for the summers, and back to
Pennsylvania when school started
with my Mom. So I say I’m from
Pennsylvania, but there’s a part
of me that says I grew up in St.
Louis, too. So I love
Missouri, I love
St. Louis, so there’s still a lot of
friends and connections back in St.
guess you would like to be making your home there
That’d be nice, that’d be a dream come true. It’s been
what I’ve wanted ever since I was a little kid. I’m just trying to work hard and
get there, hopefully.
Did you play for your father in high
He was one of the assistant
Did you feel any
He never put that on me.
Did you put any on
Yeah, I put a lot more on myself than he put
on me. Even now, me and him talk every night after the games and he doesn’t even
ask me about baseball, I have to bring it up. He’s very laid back about
What about other players back then, having your Dad as
one of the coaches, did they rib you about it?
It was hard when I was a freshman in high school;
I had a chance to start on the varsity. There was talk around school just
because my dad was the coach. I mean, I felt a little pressure that I had to go
out and prove that I was the best player to play varsity. I ended up doing that
and I gained the respect from all the teammates so, but other than that everyone
pretty much new that was my sport and they new it had nothing to do with my
Does your father being a former major league ball player
put extra pressure on you now?
No, not at all. It’s a blessing having him be an
ex-big leaguer because he knows what I’m going through right now, and he knows
how hard it is mentally and physically. Especially mentally, so he’s pretty much
there for the mental part, like I said we talk every night and he just tries to
keep me on that even keel and try to stay positive when I’m doing good and even
when I’m doing bad just to try to stay on the even plane and not get to happy
and not get to down because this game is one day at a time and that’s how you
got to take it.
Now that you’re with the same organization he was with,
do you feel more pressure or more scrutinized? This is the club you wish you
could make it with.
It would be a dream come true. No, there’s no
pressure, I mean everyone refers to me as Tommy because people have seen him
play, and that’s fine, that comes with the territory, but the only pressure I
have is the pressure put on by myself because I’m new with the team, just trying
to impress them and put some hope in their eyes that they made the right choice
in picking me.
Your father made the big leagues in a little over five
years, right up the ladder. Do you find yourself comparing your progress with
This is my fifth season and my second year in
Double-A. I think this year is a pretty big year for me and I had a pretty good
solid year last year in Double-A with the Braves. It just never seemed to work
out with them and I think this opportunity with St.
Louis is going to be a really good opportunity. I’m
getting the chance to play every day and I think if I can do what I’m capable of
doing what I think I can do throughout the whole season and impress them a lot,
I think things will work out. Progress-wise to the big-leagues I couldn’t tell
you. This game’s so funny, it could
happen sooner or it could happen later than everyone’s expecting.
Do you ever find yourself comparing stats with his
progress at a certain time and your progress?
No, I don’t even know what he hit in the minor
leagues. I could tell you about some years he had in the big leagues, but until
I get there I’m not going to….(Laughs)
Do you set specific goals before the
Yeah, most definitely and each year they might be
a little different because each year you learn some new things, you learn from
your mistakes. So I set some personal goals, just to... well I like to have
something to reach for and have something to work hard for to know that it will
pay off if I do reach those goals. So, I mean nothing real big, nothing like
crazy goals, but just things I think I can accomplish and hopefully I
Two years ago you hit 13 home runs; where’d the power
surge come from that year?
I don’t know. I messed with my stance a little bit
that year and started to do a little leg kick. I hit 13 home runs that year but
I also struck out a lot, too. When I was in high A and the next year I got to AA
ball, I kept that same stance but I struggled and the pitching’s a little harder
than high A, so I had to shorten up my swing a little bit. I still have some
power but I don’t consider myself a home run hitter. I can probably hit ten to
fifteen a year, but I’m mostly a gap-to-gap guy and extra base hits so, when I
start thinking about home runs that’s when I get into trouble.
Have you brought the leg kick back this year? (Note: as of Aug 18th, Herr has
21 home runs.)
Just a little different. I always wanted to try a
leg kick, but the way I did it before I was just taking my leg more straight up.
Now, I just kind of bring it more back, so my weight is on my back foot. When I
took it straight up all my weight was going forward. I do have a little leg kick
You were worried about your strikeouts back in 2003; are
you worried about that at all this time?
I think I just came to realize and accept
that’s one thing I’m always going to have to work on, is cutting my strikeouts
down. But I’m the kind of hitter that I swing hard and I’m aggressive and I’ll
probably strike out a lot.
When you’re at the plate, do you try to just make good
contact or are you really trying to put the ball in a specific
It depends on the situation. Sometimes I try to
hit to the right side to move the runners over. My approach to every at bat is
to right center - that helps me stay back.
I always try to look for the fastball and work off
of that. Each hitter’s different, but when I start looking for different pitches
that’s when I start getting myself in to trouble. I’m a fastball hitter and if
they make a mistake on their breaking stuff I‘ll swing at that too. But it’s
common sense to me. You look for the best pitch you hit and that’s fastball for
me and I look for it.
How much of your style of play is influenced by
Whiteyball and your father’s style of play?
I think my style of play is just being around the
game ever since I was a little baby; in the locker room at a professional level
and seeing the guys work hard and seeing what they do day in and day out to
become what they are. And my Dad says that the baseball instincts that I have
just come from being around the game and part of the game ever since I was a
little kid. But my style of play, I think may be genetics. I mean people who’ve
seen my dad play and then see me play say… well even my manager Chris, (Chris
Maloney) he says that I move and feel and just a lot of things just like my Dad.
I mean I don’t try that, that’s just how I move and I think that’s part of the
Did you know you wanted to be a professional ballplayer?
Yeah, that’s all I ever saw of myself. Not being pressured or anything, but I
think by growing up around the game with my Dad from being one year old. That’s
all I really ever knew and that’s all I ever wanted. I wanted to play
Was there a time when you knew that was it - when you
made a decision to really put the effort into
Honestly, ever since I was old enough to
know. Like when people asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, ever
since that first question it was always – be a baseball
When you were little, did you and your father play catch?
Did he instruct you in fundamentals?
He let me run on my own. I used to play
catch with myself all the time, throw the ball against the wall. I was one of those kids that, I never
had, like action figures. I always had my glove and bat beside me. He never made
me go out and throw, but we played catch at home and out on the field
One last question.
Is baseball in some fashion a lifetime deal for you, or do you have other
fields of interest you would like to eventually go
Right now it’s baseball, and it’s been
baseball since I was old enough to know about baseball.
Even after playing, do you want to stay in some
Um, I don’t know. My goal is to get to the big
leagues and go from there and after that I’d love to start a family some day and
have little kids. But, in other fields, I mean I have other interest. I’m a big
outdoorsman; I love to fish and hunt and stuff, I love to golf so, I don’t know.
I don’t like to think about what I
would do after baseball because that means it never worked out (laughs). So I’m
still going for my goal and we’ll go from there.
Terry was born and raised in St. Louis and grew up a Cardinals fan. He is a
freelance writer living in the Ozarks.