The reason: Eckstein wanted to commit himself to his family, specifically his wife of six years, Ashley, who gave up her career as an actress so he could continue pursuing his as a ballplayer. So at some point in 2010, which he would finish batting .267 in 116 games for the Padres as a 35-year-old, Eckstein decided season No. 10 would be his last.
He stuck to that, and swears he hasn't regretted it since.
"She basically gave up her career for me, and so in her starting to take off, family's very important for us, so it was a decision that I made," said Eckstein, who's now getting his baseball fix as a guest instructor at Angels camp. "It's her time to go."
Eckstein's wife now does the voice of Ahsoka Tano in the hit cartoon "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," and will have a role in the upcoming animated film "Escape from Planet Earth." She has also co-founded the company "Her Universe," which creates merchandise for female sci-fi fans, and Eckstein is all on board.
Eckstein spent his first four seasons in the big leagues as the Angels' starting shortstop, and finished with two All-Star selections, two championship rings (with the Angels in 2002 and the Cardinals in '06, when he was named World Series MVP) and a .280 batting average. Not bad for a 5-foot-6 ballplayer with a weak arm and a world of doubters.
Towards the end, though, he just got tired of being hurt.
"Age became a factor," said Eckstein, who rents a home in Newport Beach, Calif. "It bugged me that I got injured every year. I did not want to just collect a paycheck. I wanted to be out there, and to be able to play for my club every game. And for the last five years, I was on the DL every year. That bugged me. You have to be accountable to your club."
Eckstein has been working on the Minor League side of the Tempe Diablo Stadium facility the last few days. He'll be in camp until the end of this week, and will return March 9-14.
Eckstein says he loves working with players, and sees coaching in his future at some point.
Just not now.
"Baseball's my passion," Eckstein said, "and at some point in time, it's definitely going to be part of my life."