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First Person

David Eckstein, Cardinals Shortstop

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David Eckstein, Cardinals Shortstop
David Eckstein, Cardinals Shortstop
David E. Klutho/SI
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As told to Albert Chen

On his role in the lineup

It's simple: Do anything to get on base because the guys behind me will drive me in.

On moving to St. Louis from L.A., where he was an Angel last year

I'm laid-back, not always going 100 mph like most people in L.A. I fit in better in the Midwest. The atmosphere here is slower paced, the traffic is easier to handle. People here are more sincere, and they actually hold the door open for you!

On being doubted because of his small stature -- 5' 7", 165 pounds

They never say it to your face, but I've heard whispers all my life. I never listen. In this profession once you start listening to [naysayers], you fail.

On driving a 1999 Nissan Maxima

I've had it since 2000, when I was in the minors. There are more than 86,000 miles on it, and it runs great! I don't care when it gets dirty. They're building a ballpark next to Busch Stadium, so there's a ton of dust and dirt in the area, and while the other guys complain about getting their expensive cars dirtied up, I laugh. But I still get stopped pulling into the ballpark -- no one thinks a baseball player would drive a dirty old car like this.

On living with his parents in the off-season

I go back to Sanford, Florida. It's convenient. My brother Rick is a coach with the Nationals [Class A affiliate], and I work with him during the winters. It's easy for us to meet up in Florida. They just moved into a new house that I bought for them. Until last year I stayed in the same room I've had since sophomore year in high school.

On his trip to the All-Star Game in Detroit

I was on my way to catch the red-eye to the game, and I called my dad [Whitey] like I do every night. He said, 'I can't breathe. Here's your mom.' I told my mom [Pat] to call 911 and hung up. As I was boarding the plane, I heard my dad was in the hospital and stabilized. He is on dialysis, and it happened because his lungs were flooded. He had a kidney transplant in August. That night in July was so worrisome, it was hard for me to go to Detroit, but I've had strict orders from my dad since I started playing: If anything ever happens, you do not miss a game. He would say, 'I know you love me. I know how you feel. But you have a job to do.'

On one of his brothers and both sisters undergoing kidney transplants in the early 1990s (David and Rick were the only Eckstein children who didn't inherit Whitey's kidney disease)

I saw what they went through and learned that I never have a reason to complain about anything. I'll have a bad day, but I never complain. When you go through that, you don't take anything for granted.

On how the Angels decided not to re-sign him over the winter

I understand what the Angels had to do. I'm just disappointed by how they handled it. In the end this is a business. It hurt that all the hard work I had given the team all those years means nothing. Fans talk all the time about players being loyal but there's another side too. I just wished that they had let me know earlier in the process what they were thinking and what they were planning on doing. When I heard that they weren't going to keep me after the season ended, it just came out of nowhere.

On his dad running for mayor of Sanford last fall

I was a political science major at Florida and I've always had an interest in politics, but I had no idea how ugly politics could get until when my dad ran for mayor last year. I know that it's only a part of the business, but the pot shots they were taking at my dad were unbelievable. The editor of the Sanford newspaper was renting the house of the woman that my dad was running against, and all the press was for her. My dad, a former city commissioner, lost by 83 votes. The months of campaigning were as grueling as a baseball season. Politics just isn't for me.

On playing with Vladimir Guerrero in Anaheim and Albert Pujols in St. Louis

It's a treat to play with those two guys. They're two of the greatest hitters in the game, but different. Albert will take the walk. Vlad will hit anything anywhere near the plate. I've never seen anyone put as much into preparation as Albert does. You can tell that he wants to be the best player in the game, plain and simple. His preparation and intensity is unbelievable.
-- As told to Albert Chen

ECKSTEIN, 30, HAD FIVE HITS AND HIS FIRST POSTSEASON HOMER IN THE CARDS' SWEEP OF SAN DIEGO.

Issue date: October 17, 2005

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