Longoria signs autographs
Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria signs autographs for fans ahead of the 2010 All-Star Game on Monday, July 12.
Evan Longoria pitches his idea for a "Senior Prom for Senior Citizens" to Johnny Damon in this still image from a TV ad for the Pepsi "Refresh Project."
St. Petersburg, Florida -- It's a Tuesday afternoon in August, about two hours before a game at Tropicana Field. Rays star third baseman Evan Longoria reflects on his meteoric rise with the Rays with 10 News Sports Anchor Angela Jacobs. The 3-time All-Star, '08 Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove winner and Silver Slugger is easy-going and completely matter-of-fact about his growth in this game.
"Everyone commends me on the way I play the game and I just want to continue to do that," says the 24-year old, who'll be 25 in October and doesn't just seem to play the game beyond his years, but carries himself in the same manner.
AJ: You've had so much thrown at you the past three years, wonderfully so, I'm sure you feel very blessed. But how do you stay grounded, how do you keep yourself being 'Evan'?
EL: "My friends and my family do it for me. I have a great core group of friends who I've grown up with and they're still along with me for the ride. And my family, my parents, they're still married and I have three younger siblings who won't hesitate to knock me down at any given time. So, I think having that is the basis for who I am today."
AJ: So son is a superstar, but life is normal in the Longoria household?
EL: "Yeah (laughing). They're a normal, middle class family. They worked hard to get me where I'm at today."
Evan emulates that work ethic from his parents, who, despite their son signing a nine year (with options) rookie contract that could be worth more than $44 million, still work their same jobs back home in California. Dad works for the school district. Mom, at a doctor's office. Around his neck, and tucked under his Rays' jersey, you'll see a crucifix he wears as a tribute to a gift from his late grandmother.
AJ: You're playing baseball every night. Rarely a night off. How do you "get away" from baseball?
EL: "I try to just relax at my house and try to watch some Discovery Channel or whatever takes my mind off the game. I try not to watch Sports Center or any kind of sports whatever when I go home. If I have the day off or day game, whatever, (I'll) eat a couple of nice meals and just relax. Just try to have a stress free day."
AJ: What's something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
EL: "I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to video games. I mean, I don't play them everyday, but I do enjoy playing guitar hero, and rock band, those kind of games. I don't really get into the war type games, but I do like guitar hero, stuff like that. I'm also a big autograph guy. I don't get a chance to sign too many autographs out here, we're kind of short on time, but whenever there's a player on the other team, or a coach on the other team who I admire, I always ask for autographs."
AJ: You've gotten in quite a few commercials. How much fun is that for you?
EL: "It's a lot of fun. It's not something that I'm used to doing and it's not something I'm really comfortable with doing yet. I got to do the 'New Era' hat commercial. Which was probably the most fun because I got to do a little action. And some stunts, I didn't really do too many (but) I rode on the back of the scooter and then I hopped off and chased after the boat. But just to be a part of that was pretty cool."
Each year, Evan has been increasing his involvement in the Tampa Bay community. This summer, he became the Rays representative in Major League Baseball's Refresh Project, encouraging kids in developing healthy lifestyles to reduce cancer risks (watch his video & vote at the above link). Evan says he set out to connect with the community by establishing himself on the field first. Now, he's ready to branch out. He says he wants to make a positive impact in all aspects.
EL: "I don't want anybody to look at me as not a role model for their children. I always want to be able to talk to parents, and them, in turn, respect the way I play the game and be able to tell their kids, 'Hey you guys, you can watch him play, he plays it the right way. He does the right things off the field also.'"
Evan makes it clear he appreciates how Tampa Bay has embraced the Rays.
EL: "I love going out in the community and doing things, and being around people, and talking to people, making people feel special. I think that's the biggest thing for me is... if I can put a smile on somebodys face, I'm going to do it."
**Special thanks to SUN/Rays Sports and the Longoria Family for use of video and photographs in this piece.
Angela Jacobs 10 News