From Cancer to Committed: Eric Lansinger's Journey in Baseball



USG 2016

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By Brian Burden
Special Contributor to PBR MD

Although he was dealt a serious blow in terms of health at an early age, nothing has slowed rising senior Damascus HS third baseman Eric Lansinger, on or off the field.

As he enters his fourth and final year on varsity for the Swarmin’ Hornets, who aspire to get back to the state tournament, Lansinger is poised to build on a memorable summer with the 17U Mid-Atlantic Red Sox.

Lansinger led Damascus to a 15-8 record and its first region crown since 2002, before suffering a heartbreaking loss to Chesapeake (Anne Arundel County) in a Class 3A state semifinal. He then joined his Red Sox teammates on their annual summer showcase season. He played 75-80 games and, in the process, committed to the University of North Carolina Charlotte and coach Loren Hibbs in early June.

"I ended up visiting for a while after we (Mid-Atlantic Red Sox) were down in South Carolina for a tournament and it is just incredible down there. I am not a city or country guy, and this was the in-between I was looking for.”

Many in the Washington, DC metropolitan and Montgomery County area are aware of Lansinger’s story. In the winter of eighth grade, Lansinger noticed his lymph nodes were swollen and a trip to the doctor resulted in the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which affects one’s immune system. Luckily, the prognosis for those diagnosed with Hodgkin’s is very high, but Lansinger had to go for chemotherapy treatments three times a week at the Children’s National Satellite facility, in Rockville. That experience affected him in a number of ways, but most notably, it further highlighted his love of baseball, and exposed him to opportunities to be involved in charities to fund cancer research.

“He went through something nobody ever wants to in life, and it helped make him the most mature high school baseball player I have ever coached,” Damascus coach Greg Blake said.

Lansinger was declared cancer-free in April of 2013, then entered the halls of Damascus that fall and immediately made an impact on Blake.

“The last time I had seen him, he had a shaved head and was smaller, but we had a meeting that fall and this 6-foot-1, 180-pound kid comes up to me and I had a good feeling about what he was going to bring to the team,” Blake said. “He came in and immediately was more mature than any senior I had that year. It was never a given at all that he would make varsity, but he battled and fought and earned the right to be out there. He was a leader from Day 1 with his actions on and off the field.”

Lansinger started at third as a freshman and batted .377 with two home runs, including one in his fourth varsity at-bat, against Wootton. Over three years, he is batting an even .400 (72 for 180) with six home runs, 40 RBIs, and 15 doubles, and has been a staple in the middle of the lineup during the Swarmin’ Hornets resurgence.

Throughout this time, Lansinger has consistently displayed the attributes of a great teammate and leader.

“He played third as a freshman, and then we moved him to shortstop as a sophomore out of need,” Blake said. “Then last year, we moved him back to third to fill out the defense as we needed and I heard not a peep from him. A lot of big time players get into that big shortstop position and never want to leave, but Eric is only interested in what helps this team win.”

Lansinger also played some outfield this spring, as he projects to either a third baseman or outfielder in college. He is a power-hitting lefty with a great eye who is sneaky quick on the base paths.

“Eric has a strong and athletic frame that is beginning to fill out,” Maryland Scouting Director of Prep Baseball Report Jerry Shank said. “He has a smooth swing and quick hands with bat speed, and he should develop some power in college.”

Lansinger is currently ranked 12th  in Maryland’s 2017 class and the No. 2 third baseman.

When Lansinger gets to Charlotte, he hopes to continue with his abundance of charity work. In remission for three and a half years, Lansinger always wants to play a role in cancer research. It started that winter of 2013, when he was receiving treatments.

“I was in there with a bunch of other kids, and I was easily older than all of them by at least 8-10 years,” Lansinger said. “I wanted to start a hat and toy drive at Damascus so that, every Christmas, those kids could have a little t-rex to play with or something like that and hopefully take their minds off of everything, even if for just a little while.”

The drive takes place at Damascus High School and runs from the second week of November through the week of Christmas Break. Lansinger plans on continuing that drive long after he has graduated.

“The Damascus community has had my back since this all started,” Lansinger said. “They have been great about everything.”

In addition, Lansinger has played a role with Kyle’s Kamp, a charity that began in 2010 and has raised more than $1.5 million for pediatric cancer research and care for Children’s National Hospital since 2012, per its website, www.kyleskamp.org. Its marquee event is a Memorial Day Tournament that Lansinger has participated in the past few years. Different teams raise money and patient ambassadors serve as mascots, with the teams raising the most money earning the right to play at Nationals Park. Lansinger gets to interact with affected families while raising more money and awareness.

“Going through all of this drove me to be a better ballplayer,” Lansinger said. “Baseball gave me the opportunity to get away from it all and it was something to look forward to, but this also drove me to be a better person. I am always going to be involved and it impacts how I want to live my life every day.”

Lansinger is thinking about a career in sports medicine or criminology. He won’t be content sitting in a cubicle working a 9-5. He needs to be on his feet and moving and working with his hands. This past year, he participated in some police ride alongs and the adrenaline and stress that came from even just getting in the squad car resonated with him.

“That’s just the path that I feel is best for me.”

A scary, but profound time in his life firmly in the rear view mirror, Lansinger is ready to make one more run at a state title, before embarking on an exciting journey.

“After the loss to Chesapeake, a bunch of us went to IHOP and talked about what we needed to improve on to get back at it,” Lansinger said. “I know I need to get better at defense and I am working every day on it. I want this so bad for myself and my teammates and I am then excited to go out and experience the rest of the world.”

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