Alumni Sunday: David Eckstein

The undersized and energetic David Eckstein was the starting second baseman for what will always be, in my mind, the greatest team in Trenton Thunder history.

The 1999 version of the Thunder went 92-50 before suffering a bitter first round defeat to the Norwich Navigators in the playoffs.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Eckstein in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium earlier this season, and we talked about a wide variety of things…

TT: That 1999 Thunder team you were on was certainly one of the better teams in minor league history.  What was it like being part of a team like that?

DE: It was a thrill.  Like you said, we had a great club.  There were a lot of big leaguers from that club.  It was just fun to play on because we went out there, and it felt like we won every night.

TT: With that said, how difficult was it to lose in the first round of the playoffs like that?

DE: We started off well, but we ended up losing in the five-game series.  It definitely was disappointing.  We lost some of the guys at the end of the season, but yeah it was very disappointing.  We thought we had a good shot to win it all.

TT: It seemed like you were making some pretty solid progress through the Red Sox system, but then they tried to sneak you through waivers and the Angels picked you up.  What were your thoughts on that whole situation?

DE: The biggest thing about it, is it was very disappointing in the sense that when you’re with a club, you want to find a way to help them win a World Series.  So the fact that I did nothing for them, to me that’s where I was disappointed in myself in that sense.  But now you look back, and it all worked out.  It was a good situation.

TT: When you do look at everything you’ve accomplished in your career — two World Series rings, a World Series MVP, etc. — is it kind of nice to have gone out there and show the Red Sox what they missed out on?

DE: Not at all.  It’s just one of those things where I’m just happy I had an opportunity to go out there and play.  The Red Sox have a great club, they’ve been able to win it twice since, too.  So it’s not really like that.  You just want to have the opportunity to go out and play and prove that you can play, and I’m just very fortunate for that.

TT: You and Robinson Cano are the two big names at second base on the All 15 Year Team Ballot for the Thunder.  Any thoughts on your chances?

DE: (Laughs).  I don’t know.  I don’t know what his numbers were there, but he’s having a great career here.  As everyone knew, playing for Trenton was one of the most fun parks to play in as a minor leaguer.  Fans came out every single night, so I definitely enjoyed going there.

TT: I know you’ve probably been asked about this ten thousand times by now, but take me through what it was like to win the World Series MVP award…

DE: It was definitely a thrill.  The biggest thing was winning another World Series, that’s why you play this game.  So just getting that extra honor, it was kind of unbelievable.  I really didn’t think about it.  I still don’t think about it that much.  It’s one of those things where when I’m done playing, it’ll mean a little bit more.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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One Response to “Alumni Sunday: David Eckstein”

  1. ’99 Thunder Middle Infield Retires « Mike Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts Says:

    […] was a thrill,” Eckstein told me in 2008 of playing for the Thunder. “Like you said, we had a great club. There were a lot of big […]

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