Like Father, Like Son
(By Jim Flanagan, Long Beach, CA, March 2000)
[RIVERSIDE, CA- There was Cal Ripken, Sr. and his son, soon-to-be-Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken. There is Ken Griffey Sr, reunited with his son, Ken Jr. in Cincinnatti. In Southern California fastpitch, there is Manny Echeveste, and his all-star sons, David and Eddie. The trio has formed the nucleus of the Riverside Merchants (aka Santana Concrete nowadays) for some time now, familiar fixtures on the diamonds in the Riverside, CA area. David, remains one of the better players in the Southern California Fastpitch Association.
Coming into his own the past couple of seasons is the younger son, Eddie Echeveste. With yet another year of eligibility in the 23 and Under program, fastpitch fans and coaches are starting to take note of one of Southern California’s rising stars. Thanks to being able to tag along with his father and older brother, Eddie already has the experience of a veteran player, having played in a NAFA World series as a teenager. He still remembers breaking in at the ripe old age of 15, getting the game winning hit for the Burbank Cubs.
Eddie attended Rubidoux high school in Riverside, California. He started playing fastpitch at age 15, filling in on his dad’s team, and giving the older players a breather as a Designated Runner. He resembles a defensive end at times, both in appearance and the tenacity with which he approaches the game. Opposing pitchers quickly learned that he was not the typical youngster breaking into the game.
Pitcher Jim Flanagan, who faced him, and has been a teammate of his the last couple of seasons had this to say about him:
“He has the potential to become a truly great player, if he continues to work hard to develop his game. He is sometimes too hard on himself, and will lose his temper now and then, but I think that just comes from his very competitive nature. And it is that competitive
nature that will drive him to the next level. I remember facing him when he was a teenager, when he would try to hit every pitch out of ballpark. You could pitch around his power then. In the last few years though, he has become more disciplined, and has increased his
average while still hitting with impressive power. I have seen him absolutely crush some balls, and he’s just 23. He probably gets more notoriety because of his size and strength as a hitter, but I have seen his defensive skills and game calling really improve in the past
season. His greatest assets are his dad and brother, who helped instill their love of the game in him. He’s a great kid to have in the dugout, because he is always laughing and enjoying life, making the game more enjoyable for those around him.”
Eddie credits his dad for his success in the game, noting that “whenever the slump bug hit me my dad always had the answers, and would he would never turn me down when I asked him to throw me batting. Even after a hard day’s work, he was always there for me to practice. I can remember him staying out there for hours, working with me. He was the one that made a catcher of me, back when I was 15. Being around my brother David also helped me a lot.”
He cites his selection to the 1997 and 1998 SCFA (Southern California Fastpitch Association) all-star team as the honors that he is most proud of. (He was 21 and 22 when selected), a league which regularly sends a number of teams to the NAFA World Series. It was exposure to better pitching and better players at the NAFA World Series in 1995 with National Sports Bar, and 1999 with Santana Concrete, and thereafter in the 23 and Under Nationals in 1999 with Rich Markham’s San Diego based Rezman Players, that whet his appetite for the next level of play, where he caught the eye of a number of coaches, with his name now coming up when rising stars for the National team are discussed. He will continue to develop under the watchful eye of his father, coach and teammate Manny Echeveste, alongside his older brother, David. It is likely, however, that many more people will soon be taking note of this rising young star.