You always wonder when Jim Edmonds makes one of his patented circus catches whether he surprises himself or considers them just another play.
"I think sometimes it's a little bit of both," said the St. Louis Cardinals' often-sensational center fielder. "Most of the time, it's in the flow of the game. But sometimes I catch myself just kind of laughing because sometimes you don't see the ball at the last second or you don't really know if the ball's in your glove or not, especially if the ball's over your head. So every now and then I catch myself smiling. But I keep it under control and just try to do my job."
Ah, but Edmonds knows exactly what he's doing when he steals homers over the fence. Such a vertical leap would have suited him better for basketball, eh?
"I just use the wall, climb up the wall," he explained. "It's something over the years I've messed around with in batting practice. It's knowing what stadiums you can do it in and what stadiums you can't."
If you think Edmonds is sensational in the field and deadly at the plate, then call him just plain generous in the pocketbook since he arrived in St. Louis from Anaheim in 2000. While others pay lip services to helping, Edmonds puts his money where his mouth is. He committed a cool $1 million of his own funds to the Cardinals' philanthropic organization, Cardinals Care, through the course of his five-year contract.
"We gave $200,000 a year for five years to Cardinals Care," Edmonds said. "We didn't know what we were getting into, so we thought it would be best to have someone else help us out through Cardinals Care.
"Not put all the pressure on myself. When I signed with the Cardinals, I was going to be a free agent, I had kids, I was going to be in a new environment and it was going to be a little tough to handle everything. It's worked out best for me and for everyone else. It's been a lot of fun."
Edmonds takes pride in not only helping others, but also in helping teammates in a similar manner.
"The last check I wrote out was to Scott Rolen's foundation, to help build the [children's] lodge and part of the lake property [in Bloomington, Ind.]," he said. "The foundation is something I got into. It's hard to raise money these days. I think it's neat to watch other people grow their foundations because it's a little late to start one now. I'm on my way out, so I'd like to help everyone else. I got a lot going on, my kids live in California, the kids are only able to see me only when they're out of school, so it's easier to watch someone else help."
But even such generosity should not automatically make Edmonds the top role model for youths. He issues a caution flag when kids idolize celebrities.
"There's good and bad," he said. "The one thing to remember, people are people. Celebrities are people, too. They make mistakes and get in trouble and do the same things regular people do. It's great to look up to somebody, but you can't really let those people let you down. Everybody has a life, and sometimes it goes good and sometimes it goes bad.
"I did the same thing. I looked up to athletes and movie stars, and wanted to be in that role one day. As long as it doesn't get out of control and let you down."
Edmonds, 36, knows he has far fewer years ahead than behind in his career. So he's treasuring every remaining day he spends in the majors.
"I'm way at the back nine," he said. "When I'm done doing what I'm doing, I'm done, period. I've got a lot of enjoyment out of this game. I've got two girls and a little boy, and I can't wait to help them grow up. That's what I want to do with the second part of my life."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.