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Shea Hillenbrand - Former MLB All-Star third baseman.

Taliasen

From a pack deep in the north country...
This is an older interview I had published a while ago, re-used with permission.

Mr. Hillenbrand played for six different teams over his seven year career including the Boston Red Sox, LA Dodgers and Anaheim Angels. He was a two-time All-Star making the squad in 2002 and 2005. Here are some links to his career stats and Facebook page. Thanks to Mr. Hillenbrand for taking the time to share with us!

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/player...?playerId=4171

Did you play other sports in High School or College?
I played baseball and soccer in high school.

At what point or how did you know that pro baseball was the right sport for you?
I was actually Arizona soccer player of the year and was better in soccer than baseball. I just always loved baseball and wanted to do anything and everything to pursue baseball.

If not a pro baseball player, what would you have been and why?
If I wasn't a pro baseball player, I would have been doing exactly what I am doing now, rescuing animals and uniting them with special needs, inner city, and crisis children. I am just grateful for baseball because it has given my wife and I the opportunity to do this.

What was your reaction the first time you saw yourself on a baseball card?
The first time I saw myself on a baseball card was really weird. I still think it's crazy. I never thought after collecting cards, that I would be on one.

What was your most memorable or best pro baseball moment?
My most memorable moment was definitely the game winning home run off Mariano Rivera at Fenway Park and making the All-Star team twice. Those are some of the best moments in my life.

What was least memorable moment?
My least memorable would have to be my incident with John Gibbons. He and I both let our frustrations of the season get between us and unfortunately it escalated to something that should have never happened and I wish I could get a chance to sit down and talk to John Gibbons so we could put it behind us.

What has been the best thing about playing for many different pro teams?
The best experience for playing for so many different teams is all the great fans you get to meet, the different teammates you get to play with, and the wonderful cities you get to experience.

What has the least desirable thing about playing for many different pro teams?
The least would be, never feeling like your at home. As soon as you get settled into a team, your off to another team.

Was there any significance to your jersey number?
Jersey #29 was always my favorite because it was the one that the Red Sox gave me my rookie year. It became very special to me.

Who was/is your most memorable "character" team mate and why?
The most character team mate would have to be Carlos Baerga. He was definitely the funniest guy I have ever known. Tony Clark is probably the most stand up team mate I have ever had. He is such a good person and I will always have a lot of respect for him.

Do you currently have anything you are doing with Major League Baseball?
I currently do not do anything with MLB. Hopefully we can team up and make a difference to many children.

Do you collect baseball cards or memorabilia? If so what?
I collect baseballs and jerseys. I have them hanging up all over my house.

In your career who was the toughest pitcher you had to face?
Tim Wakefield was probably the toughest pitcher I faced. Luckily it wasn't very often. I hated the knuckle balls and could not hit them to save my life. My wife and Tim's wife are very good friends so she would always tell Tim's wife to give me a break, but he wouldn't. I am sure he loved facing me!

Was there a pitcher who you had "his number" so to speak?
Kenny Rogers was someone I loved facing. I think I might have hit a home run off of him every time I faced him. I don't know why because he is a great pitcher, but I guess I just got lucky against him.

What was your favorite baseball stadium to play in? Why?
Favorite stadium to play in... that is tough. I absolutely loved playing in Fenway. That was something I will never forget. I also loved playing in Dodger Stadium. I grew up going to Dodger games and we even had season tickets. When I played there, I always looked up to where my seats where and couldn't believe I was on the field. It still doesn't seem real to me that I played there.

Who was the best player you played with and against?
The best player I played with and against is Barry Bonds. What an amazing player! I learned a lot from him. To have hit right behind Barry Bonds is truly an honor!

Did you have any pre- or during game superstitions or rituals?
I don't really have any superstitions. I think I would just prepare for the game the same way and get dressed the same way. My wife was more superstitious. If I ate chicken for lunch and had a good game, I was eating chicken again and again.

How do you feel about the money in baseball now being so large for certain players? Do you feel that it is hurting baseball?
I am not sure how I feel about the money is baseball. I think it's crazy how much athletes get paid, but it's great for them. Especially if they give and do great things for the community which is so important.

I would like to know what you think of the fans who send fan mail to players. Are you receptive of it, or do you see it a deterrent to a players morale in the clubhouse?
I love fan mail. I think it's a great way to sign autographs for people that don't get to go to the games etc. I know it can get piled up, but I think it's important to do.

What was your favorite baseball team when you were young? Do you wish you were still playing for the Red Sox to get a bigger taste of the Yankee/Red Sox battles?
My favorite team when I was young was the Dodgers. I wish I was still playing, absolutely. It would be a dream to go back and play for the Red Sox.

What are your feelings on watching the team that drafted you finally win the World Series the year after they traded you to Arizona?
I was just happy to be drafted but when I went to Lowell to play for the Spinners, I realized how blessed I was to play for a terrific organization like the Red Sox.
I think watching the Red Sox win the world series was so cool. I was happy for all those guys and especially the fans that had waited for so long. I always dreamed how it would be to win the world series in Boston and even though I didn't get to be a part of it, I will still so happy for everyone who was.

Several members are curious if you will sign autographs through the mail?
I would be happy to sign autographs... send to my farm.
Marley Farms
26601 S. Val Vista Drive
Gilbert, AZ. 85298

Thanks again to Mr. Hillenbrand for the interview!
 
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