Former Elk River outfielder Charlie Eldredge didn’t get much of an opportunity to play baseball in 2020. Eldredge, who completed his redshirt freshman season for the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul this spring, didn’t play a game for the Tommies last season, as St. Thomas’ season was shortened to only six games because of COVID-19.
Fast forward to 2021, and Eldredge had a memorable rookie season. The Tommies came within two wins of the NCAA Division III baseball championship, losing two games to none to Salisbury University of Salisbury, Maryland in the 2021 Division III College World Series. The Sea Gulls took Game One 4-1 on Monday, June 7, at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, then won Game Two 6-2 on Tuesday, June 8, also at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium, winning the program’s first baseball national championship. While St. Thomas came up short of winning a national championship, Eldredge had a hit in each of the Tommies’ five College World Series games.
Eldredge finished his rookie season with a .378 batting average in 45 at-bats with 17 hits, six RBIs, five doubles two home runs and stole one base.
In the field, Eldredge made 16 catches and putouts and didn’t make a single error.
Eldredge said he noticed a huge jump in his personal skill level.
“I’m happy with the whole two years that training has brought me through COVID-19 and everything,” Eldredge, whose legal name is Charles Eldredge III, said. “All this down time away from the game [in 2020] allowed me to focus on the mental side of the game. It ended up helping out when I got thrown into the lineup during the Regional tournament and the World Series.”
Eldredge is the son of Chuck Eldredge, whose real name is Charles Eldredge II, and Jennifer Eldredge.
Jennifer said Charlie has matured in the past few years.
“[He’s] hard working and [very] self-motivated,” Jennifer said. “We certainly have seen that through baseball all these years, especially with sticking with it in college through the last of his freshman season with COVID-19 and working hard to gain a spot in the lineup this year.”
Chuck said it was surreal to see his sun play for the Tommies this spring.
“It was impressive,” Chuck said. “Everybody’s good at that level. There’s not that one guy who’s a superstar or not good. Competing at that level is so fun to watch. Watching TV for all the years watching the College World Series and then, to see your son play is cool.”
Charlie said one of his favorite memory of playing for the Tommies this season was his first-ever collegiate at-bat. On Friday, April 2, he stepped into the plate as a pinch hitter with the Tommies leading the St Mary’s Cardinals 16-2 in the second game of their doubleheader at Koch Diamond on the University of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul. He pinch hit for freshman catcher Max Moris. Charlie doubled off of Cardinals sophomore pitcher Timmy Smith for his first-career RBI and hit, which extended St. Thomas’ lead to 17-2, which ended up being the final score. The ball hit the top of the outfield wall.
“That was cool to hit a double in my first-ever at-bat with my parents and girlfriend in the stands,” he said. “That was a lot of fun.”
In his second start for the Tommies on Saturday, May 29, Charlie hit a pair of home runs and a double and drove in three runs in St. Thomas’ 8-7 win over York College in the NCAA Division III regional at St. John’s University in Collegeville.
In addition to playing baseball for the Tommies, Charlie is majoring in mechanical engineering with a 3.96 GPA. He will be working for 3M in Maplewood this summer in a part-time position.
During his time at Elk River, Charlie played from 2018-19. He hit .290 with 13 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 2018. He followed that up with an even better 2019 season, finishing with a batting average of .319, 19 RBIs and nine stolen bases.
Elks coach Ryan Holmgren said he remembers Eldredge as a player who worked very hard to get to where he wanted to be.
“[Charlie] was willing to do anything that we asked of him that we knew was going to help him become a better player for himself but also become the best player for our program,” Holmgren said. “His knowledge of the game and understanding of the game at a high level is definitely a strength and to deal with the ups and downs of a baseball season as well. He understood that the game is based off of failure and he understood that if he keeps working hard and keep his nose to the groundstone, so to say, eventually, with the right attitude, he was going to prevail.”
Eldredge said his transition from Elk River to St. Thomas for the 2021 season was difficult. He had people to help him along the way, such as Tommies hitting coach Tanner Vavra. Vavra is the son of former Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers hitting coach Joe Vavra. His brother, Trey Vavra, is the Tommies’ first base coach. St. Thomas head coach Chris Olean works mainly with the pitchers.
“There were a lot of tough days and a lot of adjustments,” Eldredge said. “I did a ton of work with my hitting coach [Tanner Vavra] and made adjustments basically since I got there the fall of my freshman year. It took a lot of time for me to get a skill level at the plate to where I was happy with. I spent most of this season playing a bench role, come in the last inning or two and play defense and pinch run a lot as well.
I kind of accepted that as my role early on in the season. I kept working on hitting and waited for my chance. I was happy with everything that I got to show. My game came full circle. That was cool.”