CRONKITE D-BACKS-STORIES

At bat for kids: Diamondbacks’ Eduardo Escobar driven to give back

Jun 24, 2019, 7:07 PM
Eduardo Escobar tries to make weekly appearances to community events including trips to the Diamond...
Eduardo Escobar tries to make weekly appearances to community events including trips to the Diamondbacks Boys and Girls Club Branch in Phoenix (Photo by Brady Vernon/Cronkite News)
(Photo by Brady Vernon/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Baseball has had a storied history of superstitions. Players put on their socks the same way every day. Pitchers rely on a ritual before every start.

Eduardo Escobar has a routine, too. It’s engaging with the community as much as possible. He’s so committed, the Diamondbacks say, he constantly badgers them about attending more events.

“Everybody knows that Eduardo Escobar was an unbelievable addition to the Diamondbacks,” said Debbie Castaldo, the Diamondbacks’ vice president of corporate and community impact. “What you may not realize is how special he is off the field.”

The Diamondbacks third baseman is batting .285 with a team-leading 58 RBIs. He is equally engaged away from the ballpark, where he frequently attends community events where he can connect with children.

“I see these kids and smile and play around, for me it’s the most important part of my life,” Escobar said Tuesday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix – MLB All Star D-Backs Branch. “Especially coming from nothing, having a poor family, now is why I like helping people, why I like (to) play with kids. The Arizona community, I like it, I’m feeling so blessed here, taking time, coming to play with kids to support me. Every time I see one kid smile is a blessed day for me.”

At the age of 7, Escobar found a passion for baseball. Growing up in Venezuela with an absent father, he had to grow up quickly. While his mother of six children worked as a housekeeper, he worked a variety of jobs at a young age, from bagging groceries to cleaning shoes. He didn’t receive a full education.

The hardships at the beginning of Escobar’s life shaped him into the person he is. A person with interests far beyond baseball.

The joy brought to him by a few hours with a group of kids outweighs anything on the field. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo has seen it firsthand.

“When baseball players get into the routine of their day, they don’t tend to get off that routine,” he said. “They want to rest their body and their mind. They want to get to the ballpark fully equipped to play in a baseball game. But Eduardo’s day-to-day operations include his children and the extended children around him that need love and support outside of his own family.

“It’s pretty remarkable to see how consistent he is getting out to this community and actually searching out different communities that he can impact. He gives of himself more than anybody I’ve really been around as far as making sure those around him are provided for. He’s a pretty special human being for that.”

At one of his weekly trips to the organization’s Boys and Girls Club branch, the generosity of Escobar revealed itself quickly. Every child that filled the bleachers received a Diamondbacks hat from Escobar or another person from the team, but when a girl with a leg injury seated in a chair away from the stands didn’t receive a hat initially, Escobar made the extra steps to give her one.

Between playing basketball, riding on large bouncing balls or helping his wife, Eucaris, pitch foam baseballs, the connection with the kids and Escobar never seemed forced.

“The thing I love most about Eduardo Escobar is everything he does for the community comes from the heart,” Castaldo said. “He talks to the kids about his upbringing in Venezuela. He talks about struggling with a single mom when they didn’t have any money. He talks about getting a job at seven years old and he only talks about getting an education through eighth grade.”

Change is never easy. Escobar, however, jumped right in to learn about the Phoenix community after he left the Twins.

“When they traded me, the first thing I experienced was the people here were so nice,” Escobar said. “I did this in Minnesota, too. When I came here, from the coach to the players, everyone was so nice to me and my family. I continue what I did in Minnesota, I continue what I do in Venezuela with my foundation helping people. For me, this is my life.”

Handfuls of children scurried for Sharpies at the club to acquire an autograph from Escobar. He signed his name with a smile every time.

“I (will) never forget where I come from because I (will) never forget the people who helped me when I had nothing,” Escobar said. “Now, as a professional baseball player, nobody says (this is) mandatory. I do it because I feel it in my heart. I want to see people smile, I want to see people happy with their life.”

Cronkite D-backs-Stories

Arizona Diamondbacks closer Brad Ziegler fires one of his submarine pitches while saving the Diamon...
Estaban Manzo

Trade deadline additions position D-backs with depth for postseason push

Despite not making any blockbuster moves, the Arizona Diamondbacks were busy at the 2018 trade deadline. What do those moves mean going forward?
3 years ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt reacts after striking out against Colorado Rockies starting ...
Estaban Manzo

Absolute power: Strikeout trend continues as homers become priority

Major League Baseball is on pace to see its single-season strikeout record broken for the 11th consecutive year. Will changes to the sport follow?
3 years ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt, center, celebrates his run scored with Steven Souza Jr. (28...
Natalie Braun

Two Diamondbacks among those receiving toughest called third strikes

Two Diamondbacks are among the players called out for borderline strikes the most since 2015. But is it actually a side effect of good plate discipline?
3 years ago
Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Archie Bradley delivers pitch to Colorado Rockies' Ian Desmond ...
Natalie Braun

Diamondbacks’ bullpen making a case to be seen as the best in baseball

Despite not racking up huge strikeout totals like other bullpens around MLB, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen boasts the best ERA in the league.
3 years ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt, center, is congratulated after scoring on a double hit by K...
Natalie Braun

Paul Goldschmidt has week to remember after month-long hitting skid

Following a career-worst cold streak through the month of May, Paul Goldschmidt may be back to his usual MVP-caliber self.
3 years ago
Arizona Diamondbacks Nick Ahmed celebrates with Chris Owings (16) after hitting a three-run home ru...
Estaban Manzo

Three Diamondbacks among players turning to C-flap for injury prevention

Many MLB stars, such as Houston’s Carlos Correa and Washington’s Bryce Harper, are beginning to use the C-flap as an injury prevention method. In Arizona, three players are joining the movement.
3 years ago
At bat for kids: Diamondbacks’ Eduardo Escobar driven to give back