(Photo: Reuters/Shaun Best)
A children’s interactive book company has launched a David & Goliath app that includes the narration of former St. Louis Cardinals baseball player and 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein.
David & Goliath: The MVP Edition became available last week while Eckstein’s former team was battling the Milwaukee Brewers, eventually defeating them in the National League series to advance to the World Series.
Eckstein was chosen by Jumping Pages, a new company that designed and published the app, for his own Goliath story. The 5-foot-7 tall shortstop was selected in the 19th round of the 1997 amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox, before landing with the Angels and then the Cardinals. He was part of the Angels’ 2002 championship team as well as the Cardinals’ championship team in 2006.
Major League Baseball gave its first Heart & Hustle award to Eckstein in 2005. The award is given to an active player who "demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game."
In 2006, during the Cardinals' run to the championship, manager Tony La Russa said of Eckstein: "He's the toughest guy I've ever seen in a uniform."
Eckstein’s wife, Ashley (actress Ashley Drane), narrated the story app’s afterword, talking about the similarities between the Bible’s David and his belief in overcoming the odds and her husband's unlikely journey to baseball stardom.
Eckstein, who was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while in high school and college, was one of the players featured in the recent film "Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition" that showcases the intersection of sports and faith in MLB.
“It was a thrill for Ashley and I to participate in this groundbreaking project,” said Eckstein in a statement about the app release. “The story of David and Goliath holds special meaning to both of us, and we hope that through our involvement others will be inspired to face life’s challenges, or Goliaths, with perseverance and determination despite the odds.”
Jumping Pages co-founder John Casey he wanted the app to be a complete and meaningful experience for children. Those playing the app (which comes in a version without Eckstein’s narration) can either listen to the David & Goliath story or have it read to them.
The animated pages of the app include the interactive features of collecting rocks for David, growing flowers in a field, and helping David sling the rock at Goliath.
“We got to thinking about any famous Davids out there who might have been smaller like the David in the story and who overcame some odds to achieve some glory,” Casey said. “My mind went back to David Eckstein. He won two world championships and five years ago was the World Series MVP. He is such a role model.”
“The whole thing just seemed to work. His name is David. He’s a little smaller. He fought against the odds. He achieved glory. We all agreed that he would be the perfect narrator for this story,” Casey said.
Timing might be everything for the release of the company’s first app last week.
“It’s coincidental that the Cardinals are going into the World Series,” Casey said. “We thought this was a great one to start with because the story of David and Goliath is around us every day. It’s a constant metaphor for people overcoming the odds.”
Filmmaker and Jumping Pages founder Rania Ajami said she believes the addition of Eckstein in creating the MVP edition will appeal to the “baseball-loving fathers and sons out there.”
“We wanted to tell this legendary tale to children in a way that it has never been told before,” Ajami said. “We’ve created a visually stunning and interactive world for the young reader.”
The David & Goliath and David & Goliath: The MVP Edition Apps are available for $4.99 at iTunes. Ten percent of the MVP Edition’s proceeds will be donated by the Ecksteins to several nonprofit organizations they support, including Bags of Hope of Central Florida's Feed and Read program for children.