Vance Albitz is a minor league infielder in the Cardinals organization who makes his offseason home in Torrance, California. There is a good chance this is one of the first few times you have heard his name. Thanks to the team, the upcoming Winter Warm Up, and his own challenge to help out the troops of our country, you will probably hear much more about him in the coming months.
This is not to say that Albitz will not be on the Cardinals’ radar in the near future. The young man has performed well at various levels in the organization. He is not a flashy player and when asked about the part of his game that is his strength he replies with a one word answer: “defense”.
Albitz took a few minutes of his offseason to answer a few questions for us here at i70. He took time to talk about himself, his career, and his desire to provide something to troops of the United States Armed Forces that are stationed abroad.
I asked Albitz about his expectations for the season ahead and got a very professional sounding “I have no idea what is in store for the 2013 season for me. I am looking to help the organization any way I can, any place they need me.”
I got a glimpse of the young man’s personality when he opened up about his favorite player growing up. Albitz replied, “David Eckstein. He once told me, “You have to prove yourself every single day.” He practiced what he preached and I respect him for that.”
Ask him about his best friend in baseball and you’ll find a man that loves the game, and his teammates, to the fullest extent. “My best friends in my life have come from baseball. I still keep in touch with my best friends from baseball in college. The Cardinals have a number of guys in the organization that I enjoy being around. There are literally too many to choose just one.”
Most impressively, and the reason you will hear more about him in the next few weeks, Albitz undertook a very special project this offseason. While reading an article, Albitz discovered a conversation with a solider:
“What would you like people back home to send you?”
“Baseball gloves and a baseball,” he said. “So much of our tasks are hurry up and go, followed by waiting.”
That inspired Albitz to go to work. He set a goal for himself to reach out to as many people as he could. His goal? To send 1,000 baseball gloves to troops stationed overseas before the first day of Spring Training.
“My grandparents served and I have a number of friends serving right now. My objective in starting this was to send the game of baseball to our soldiers who are doing so much for our country”, Albitz told me. He has currently collected 250 gloves and expects the next month to pick up steam, thanks in part to the Cardinals asking fans to help contribute at this year’s Winter Warm Up.
The team will have donation bins setup this weekend at various locations around the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch during their annual Winter Warm Up celebration. Fans are urged to donate new or gently used gloves by dropping them off at these bins. Thanks to the club and Rawlings, Albitz hopes to greatly increase the number of gloves he has already collected.
The best way for people to help is to send me a used baseball glove, new baseball, or cash donation. All the information on the website,www.gloves4troops.com. What I would appreciate just as much if somebody doesn’t have those items is a thank you letter to a soldier (I can put these in the gloves). The information can be found on the website.
I took a moment to ask Ablitz to share with our fans his favorite baseball movie (For Love Of The Game) and to also share with our fans if he was a collector of baseball cards growing up.
My brother and I collected baseball cards like crazy when we were younger. I always remember the time my brother tricked me into trading him my Mike Piazza Bowman Rookie Card for Joel Skinner. I still haven’t gotten over that.
If you are going to Winter Warm Up, grab that old glove out of the closet and drop it in a bin for a soldier. If you are not, head over to the website and learn how you can help.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.