Daniel Solzman: Thanks for joining Redbird Rants. How are things treating you this offseason?
Vance Albitz: Thank you for having me, Daniel. The offseason has been great, mainly because I get to work out with my older brother, Clete, who hasn’t missed an offseason workout with me since my first year of college. Also, being back with my family has been great.
Daniel Solzman: When did you get the idea for Gloves 4 Troops?
Vance Albitz: I was reading an article about a soldier in Afghanistan in early November. They asked him what he wanted people back home to send him. He said that he wanted baseball gloves and a baseball so he and another soldier could play catch. I thought that was pretty awesome. Isn’t something as simple as a game of catch with a friend or loved one why we love this game in the first place? I thought the soldier’s answer was great and I wanted to help others like him.
Daniel Solzman: How close are you to your goal of sending 1,000 gloves?
Vance Albitz: I’m far from reaching 1,000 gloves. I launched Gloves 4 Troops in the middle of November and was pumped to see how many people immediately supported it. In two weeks, 35 gloves have been sent out to nine different locations in Afghanistan. I think we can do a lot more. Used baseball gloves, new baseballs, or a monetary donation would be good for our troops and great for the soul. Please check out the website if you get a chance: www.gloves4troops.com.
Daniel Solzman: You played for three different teams in the Cardinals organization this season. Were you surprised at how quick you moved up through the system?
Vance Albitz: I’m trying to contribute to the organization anyway I can. I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m proud to be a part of this; the history and everything the Cardinals stand for. Not to mention the Cardinals are the only team that gave me a chance after college. I take a lot of pride in that.
Daniel Solzman: You played a big role on the UCSD team that played for the DII title in 2010 after what can be described as a storied career, earned 2 Defensive Player of the Year Awards and 4 consecutive Gold Gloves from the American Baseball Coaches Association. How did Coach Dan O’Brien prepare you for the next level?
Vance Albitz: Coach O’Brien, much like my parents, put their efforts into preparing me for life. That has been the biggest thing. Besides what many think, you don’t make it through the minors and play in the majors just because you’re good at baseball. The respect I have for every major league baseball player is something I can’t explain. You have to be tough to play this game at both the college level and professional level.
Daniel Solzman: MILB.com lists you as 5’7”. Do you take pride in knowing that you share the same height as Jon Stewart and myself? But more seriously, do you look to a player such as David Eckstein as far as someone that you model your playing style after?
Vance Albitz: I think Jon Stewart is funny and I’m sure you’re a really great guy. I met David Eckstein when he was with the Padres and he told me, “Guys like us have to prove ourselves everyday.” I don’t think I will ever get better advice than that. When I saw David Eckstein and Dustin Pedroia in the big leagues, I remember thinking to myself that there are no more excuses. I always wonder who motivated those guys though.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining Redbird Rants. Any final words for the best fans in baseball?
Vance Albitz: Thank you to all the Cardinal fans for being passionate about your team. I would like to give a special shoutout to the fans from Springfield and thank them for being there during our championship run this year. I look forward to seeing you all in Jupiter.