Blasts From the Past: What are Former Saltdogs Doing Now?
Ian Gac (2013-14)
Some of the baseballs Ian Gac hit at Haymarket Park are still flying. The power-hitting first baseman set the league on fire during the 2013 and ’14 seasons. The Seattle-native hit 45 home runs over 143, good for the fourth-most in franchise history. His best season was in 2014 when he was a post-season All Star and hit .349 over 83 games. Gac blasted a team-record 27 home runs and knocked in 77 runners to lead the ‘Dogs to the Central Division Championship.
After the Saltdogs, Gac briefly played in the Mexican League before finishing his career with the St. Paul Saints. He compiled over 1200 hits and belted 233 home runs over his 13-year career.
Here are the highlights from our chat with Ian Gac:
What did you enjoy about the city of Lincoln and Haymarket Park?
There was a lot I really enjoyed about both. Lincoln is a really cool city that felt like I had the best of both worlds. A little bit small town and a little bit big city. I really enjoyed the downtown area and the college town feel. The people were very friendly and the fans at our games were outstanding.
The organization I thought was really well run top to bottom and Haymarket Park was an awesome place to play. Playing surface was second to none, nice backdrop of the city and football and basketball stadiums, and a really fun atmosphere to be playing baseball.
What was your favorite restaurant in Lincoln?
I had a lot of favorites. I’m from Seattle and am spoiled with the diverse cuisine we have and I thought Lincoln was equally diverse. I was introduced to Pepper Jax and Raising Cane’s while I was there and I really enjoyed both. So I ate at both fairly frequently. I also found a Japanese ramen place downtown called AmuManu Ramen which was really good. I could list about 10 other places I enjoyed as well.
Do you have a favorite memory with a teammate or teammates from your time with the Saltdogs?
The best would probably be when we beat Winnipeg in game 5 to go to the championship series in 2014. Joe Bisenius pitched one of the best games I’ve seen and it was a really fun time.
Which other team in the league did you dislike the most? Why?
I probably shouldn’t comment. But there was one in particular.
What was your favorite ballpark in the league? What’s your favorite ballpark you ever played in?
While I was there (2013-14) Lincoln hands down had the best ballpark. The one other stadium I really enjoyed was Winnipeg. Although the stadium itself isn’t as nice as Lincoln, it had a really cool feel of being downtown Winnipeg had great fans that loved to hate me.
My favorite ball park I ever played in was any big league stadium I was in during spring training. It was always an awesome experience to get called over to play with the big league team and that automatically made the park the best. But top 3 for me on teams I was actually with would be Winston-Salem, Lincoln and St. Paul.
What did you learn from your time with the Saltdogs?
After being released from affiliated ball I kind of thought it was all over and that Independent ball was going to be this huge step down talent wise. But it really wasn’t at all. The league was full of very talented players and most teams had 1 or more former big leaguer. I also learned a bit about roster development. In affiliated ball you have nothing to do with who’s on your team or in your organization. But in independent ball as a player you can go to the manager or gm and suggest guys or get asked your opinion about people. And as a part of that, you learn about managing salary cap and all the rules that go with putting together a roster. Such as number of rookies or veterans you’re allowed to have.
What game or moment in a game stands out the most to you?
Again game 5 of the division series, but also my walk off home run in 2014 to beat St. Paul stands out. Not only did we win the game on my home run but that was the same home run that set the new single season record for Lincoln. It was also great to get Marquis Fleming the win in that game. It was 0-0 in the bottom of the 9th and he had been pitching a great game and wasn’t going to get credit for the win if we went to extras since someone else would’ve been coming in.
What do you view as your best accomplishment in baseball?
Baseball wise, learning how to be a complete hitter. I always had power but I didn’t learn how to really hit until I was well into my career.
Overall it would be understanding the impact I had/have on kids. It’s really cool to be in a position to influence or help anyone in a positive way, but especially young people.
Where do you currently live and what do you do professionally?
I currently live in Bellevue, WA. I teach/coach baseball for a living with my company ExploSwing LLC.
What advice do you have for a young person interested in baseball?
Have fun, get the best information you can and work hard. From the time I was 11-12 and on I was probably swinging a bat and working on baseball 300+ days out of the year. To work like that should be fun, if it feels like a chore then playing baseball at a high level probably isn’t for you. Which is ok too.