Oswego boy, 12, dies after being struck by baseball

April 12, 2012 10:00:00 PM PDT
Eric Lederman was known to be the comedian of his baseball team. He inspired his teammates, coaches and baseball family.

In fact, his coach says Lederman had an infectious smile, played with joy, passion and heart, and always had something to say after the game, win or lose, that would make his teammates laugh.

Flowers are on the doorstep for the Lederman family, a remembrance of his death, but his classmates are reflecting on his life.

"He was just a happy kid," said Jake Burch, who rode the bus with Lederman.

"Every time I saw him he was laughing or smiling," he said.

They were classmates at Thompson Junior High School in Oswego.

A school community now mourning the loss of the sixth-grade student who wrestled and played baseball.

"It was just a quiet, sad day," Burch said.

On Wednesday, Lederman and his teammates were here in Wheaton, playing on Oswego's 12-U Orange travel team.

During the game, Lederman was accidentally struck in the neck by a baseball.

He died Thursday night.

"He was always someone that was fun to be around, helpful to school, he was just one of those all-American boys playing an all-American game," said Oswego Schools director of communications Kristine Liptrot.

An all-American game thousands of kids play throughout the Chicago area.

Michael Huff, a former White Sox player who now teaches coaching clinics, says it's critical for adults to remind players, especially kids, to stay alert, although it's not clear why Lederman was struck in the neck.

"The tragic nature of this brings to light the fact that safety, even just playing catch, needs to be reiterated," Huff said.

It was a somber day as a baseball is left on the field where Lederman was hit. "Eric" it read. A sense of loss and sense of mortality for Lederman's classmates.

"I love the game, but now it's just kind of scary to think about if you get hit, it can end tragic," said classmate Robert Lukas.