Interview With Former Yankee and Astro, Morgan Ensberg
He was selected to the All-Star team in 2005 and finished very high in MVP votes that year.
Bleacher Report's Chris Chavez had an opportunity to interview one of baseball's kindest players, who welcomes the media as family.
Chavez: Hey Morgan, tell Bleacher Report readers a little bit about where you came from and what called you to play baseball.
Ensberg: Chris, I grew up in Hermosa Beach, Ca. It is a beach community about 20 miles southwest of downtown LA. It was a place where everyone went to the beach. During the summers, we would all just meet up at our local spots and hang out until the sun went down.
The community was really small. We don’t have a high school. Due to the small numbers, our sports programs only had a few teams in each age group. Our dads coached us and the emphasis was on fun.
My dad is a banker and my mom is a first grade teacher. They supported us in everything we did. But I was told at a very young age that I would not be a professional athlete, so make sure you have fun and study hard in school.
My parents weren’t negative at all about professional sports, they just didn’t want my head to be up in the clouds. It was a great lesson that allowed me to have fun and not take sports so seriously.
As for what lead me to baseball? Well, I loved it. But growing up I was a soccer and basketball player. Baseball was my third favorite sport. Over time, basketball really started becoming my sport. I played that non-stop. In fact, Paul Pierce and I battled against each other starting at age 10. My dad and friends still believe to this day that I am a better basketball player. My heart is in baseball though.
Chavez: You were selected in the ninth round of the 1998 MLB Amateur Draft. Did being selected that late ever discourage you from hoping to make it big in the majors?
Ensberg: I was happy to be drafted. At that point there was no way for me to know if I could make it or not. My family didn’t know anyone who was a pro so there was no way to know what it took. The “game plan” was to just go out and play.
Chavez: What were some of the funniest memories you have of your time in the minors?
Ensberg: The Minors are really hard. Funniest memories were probably not funny at the time. One time we were in A ball and playing in Vero Beach, FL against the Dodgers. On the drive over it rained the whole time. When we got there the sun was coming out and it was getting real hot. By the time the game started, it was 100 degrees with the most humidity I had ever played in. Keith Ginter, our second baseman, was running down the line. It was so hot that sweat was actually squirting out the sides of his shoes as he ran down the first base line. I had never seen anything like it.
Chavez: You finally made it the show in 2000 for the Houston Astros. What were your first feelings when you got the call to Houston?
Ensberg: I was in total shock! We had just won the Texas League Championship on our home field in Round Rock, Tx. They brought myself and Keith Ginter to home plate and announced that we were being called up to Houston. It was a moment I will never forget.
Chavez: Describe your first homerun and the emotions that were going on when it occurred.
Ensberg: My first homerun in the Big Leagues was off of Russell Ortiz of the Giants. He threw a fastball up in the zone and I hit it into the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid. I remember telling myself, “Run…don’t show up the pitcher.” It was great.
Chavez: What are some of the achievements that you are proud of during your tenure with the Houston Astros?
Ensberg: My proudest achievement is receiving the “Daryl Kile Good Guy Award.” It is given to the player who exemplifies a great teammate and good with the media. It is the only award I care about.
Chavez:You lost the 2005 MVP Award to an unheard of player named Albert Pujols, what is your take on this baseball phenom?
Ensberg: I can safely say that Albert Pujols is the best hitter to ever play this game. Yeah, we can say Ted Williams and Babe Ruth….Joe “D”…. but no other player has collected 30 hr/ 100 RBI and a .300 average every year of his career. If you don’t get a chance to see him in person then you will miss out on history.
Chavez: Eventually you made your way to the Bronx. The New York Yankees welcomed you in 2008. Is it true what is said about New York being a tough atmosphere to play in?
Ensberg: I didn’t really think NY was that tough of a place. My dad grew up in Baldwin, Long Island and he is a Yankee fan. If you give everything you have and shoot the fans straight, they will love you. I loved playing for the Yankees and believe that they are the greatest franchise in sports. You are very lucky to have them.
Chavez: It was Joe Girardi’s first year as Yankees manager; did you expect him to be a World Series winning coach the next year? In other words, how much potential did you see in him?
Ensberg: Joe Girardi is a great manager and the perfect guy for that job. He is a meticulous worker and great at communicating. I would run through a wall for that guy. He understands that managers need to communicate expectations clearly. It doesn’t surprise me that he was the manager of a World Series team.
Chavez: What was it like playing with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter?
Ensberg: It was amazing just putting on the Yankees uniform. The fact that I got to play with such great players was really cool. Jeter is a great guy and I really liked Alex as well.
Chavez: Your last game was on May 25th, 2008. Do you believe that you still have some pop left in that bat?
Ensberg: Yeah there is still some pop in the ‘Ol Bat! So much of life is timing and I didn’t play well when I needed to. I miss ball, but I think I can still hit a ball!
Chavez: What did you turn to for enjoyment and life after baseball?
Ensberg: This last year has been the hardest of my life. I have played baseball since I was 5 and now at 34 I find myself really struggling without the game. It is fun to hang out with my wife and kids, but I have turned to [Morgan Ensberg's Baseball IQ] to get some baseball enjoyment.
Chavez: What advice can you give high school, college, minor league, and even Little League players?
Enberg: My advice is to play every single sport you can. It may seem like “specializing” in one sport is the way to go, but it isn’t. The more sports you play, the better baseball player you will be.
My only other piece of advice is to always be prepared for the day when sports are done. So make sure you have a skill to fall back on. It isn’t good enough to have a degree in college. Learn a trade that you love!
Chavez: On behalf of the Bleacher Report Community and your fans around the world, it was a pleasure to have you and get to know you better. You really live up to your Daryl Kile Good Guy Award as you have been very pleasurable to the media and are welcome in our arms at any time.
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