Becker balances work with coaching 2 teams
FAIRMONT — “It’s hogs in the morning, baseball at night pretty much,” Levi Becker said.
And, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
In May, the Fairmont High School alum graduated from South Dakota State University with a degree in animal science and returned home. This summer, Becker has taken up coaching Fairmont’s American Legion and amateur baseball teams. He also helps with the family pig farm.
“It’s a great combination, I think. It’s more than your regular eight-hour day,” Becker said. “You start at 7 a.m. then you’re done at 10 p.m. when the last baseball game is done.”
Becker has been playing on the Martins amateur team since he was in eighth-grade and played on the legion team for two years in high school. With Adam Schmidt stepping down from coaching the Martins, and Levi’s younger brother, Lance, on the legion team, the timing for Levi Becker to take the reigns of both programs worked.
“He (Schmidt) knows I’m going to be around pretty much the rest of my life, so it was kind of an easy transition,” Levi Becker said. “He’s been helping me with a couple of things to get everything lined up with umpires and games. As far as legion, my brother’s on the team, so it was kind of an easy one.”
As a player and coach for the Martins and legion head coach, Becker stays busy. In a week’s span this summer, Becker coached 11 games between the two teams. Although the atmosphere of the two teams are different, they help Becker hone his coaching skills.
“You get two different aspects of the game,” Becker said. “You get complete managing (with legion) and then you can carry it over to the amateur side where you’re the manager and player. I think that’s pretty cool to be a part of.”
As if coaching two teams wasn’t enough, Becker adds on the responsibility of helping on the family farm. He assists in loading and caring after feeder pigs before they are taken to the market and sold.
“Then they’re your bacon or pork chop or whatever,” Becker said.
He also takes care of the family’s show pigs. With the Martin County Fair a little more than a month away and the Minnesota State Fair approaching, Levi and sister Larissa Becker have been getting the pigs ready.
“That’s the part that me and Larissa take control of. We live and die for that stuff,” he said about the pig shows. “We were out this morning (Wednesday) walking and washing them.”
Once the summer is over, Becker will head to Ohio where he’ll work on a pig farm for about a year and a half. Although he’ll be 11 hours away from home, Becker will only be 3 1/2 hours away from Lexington, Ky., where his younger brother, Luke, plays baseball at the University of Kentucky.
“I’m going somewhere where I can work with hogs and watch baseball,” Levi Becker said. “Almost every weekend that I’m off, I’ll be taking off there.”
Last season, he was able to see about 12 of Luke’s games and hopes to see more now that he’ll be closer.
“I was down there for my whole spring break, then I went with my dad and with a buddy,” Levi said. “We always go down and we’ll hit with Luke in the morning and then somehow, some way, he’ll find a way to hit a home run. So, that’s kind of cool.”
Once Levi Becker completes his time in Ohio, he’ll return to Minnesota and resume his position on the farm and with coaching the baseball teams.
“They’ll (dad and uncle) let me pick the department I want to get into … and my dad and uncle will someday turn it over to me and my brothers, cousins, whoever sticks around,” Becker said. “Eventually, someday if I’m coaching high school baseball, that’d be awesome. I think I’ll coach the Martins until they tell me I’m too old.”
From a young age, hogs and baseball have always been part of Levi Becker’s life. He still remembers throwing feed on mats for the pigs as well as playing Little League baseball with brother, Luke.
Levi’s grandfather gave him the option of staying on the farm or choosing a different career, but he chose farming.
When he could have walked away from baseball, Becker instead chose to expand upon the game by picking up two coaching gigs.
“We’ve been playing baseball since we were little kids. It’s something I’m not going to give up,” he said. “(Farming is also) just something we’ve always done, and I don’t see anything changing. I’ll be farming the rest of my life.”