(Eric Wedge celebrates the Indians’ Al Central title in 2007. Photo by Associated Press).
I did a lot of research this week on all the Mariners’ managerial candidates, and tonight, of course, I focused on what I dug up on Eric Wedge. In going through numerous articles on Wedge that have been written over the years, I’ve compiled a series of quotes that I hope give some insight into the next Mariners’ manager:
“I got to the ballpark one day, thought about what I was going to have to go through to play that night and said, ‘That’s it.’ I called Pat Rooney, my agent, and told him to put my name out there as a manager for next season.” Eric Wedge explaining his decision to retire at age 28 in 1997 while playing for Scranton/Wilkes Barre, the Phillies’ Class AAA team. He underwent four knee and four elbow surgeries. Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/9/2003.
“When I went into managing, I made two promises. First, when I quit playing, it’s all about my players. Second, (I wanted) to never forget what it’s like to be a player, to be in their shoes.” Wedge shortly after being hired by the Indians, Akron Beacon Journal, 2/9/2003.
“I’m not big on Velcro players. Guys who show up five minutes before they’re supposed to, rip off the Velcro, put on their uniforms and go out to the field. You don’t need to get here as early as I do, but you need to get here in time to prepare and play.” — Wedge, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/9/2003.
“You’ve got to be approachable. When I walk into the locker room, I don’t want anything or anybody to skip a beat. You’ve got to have a relaxed clubhouse. When you’re relaxed, your talent shines through.” — Wedge, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/9/2003.
“What I kept coming back to when I decided to hire Eric was that he was a professional. I know that no detail will be missed, no effort to communicate will be passed up. He has this undying energy and passion that gives me peace of mind, knowing I would never ever have to question, did we try everything? Did we give it all we had?” — Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro on his decision to hire the 34-year-old Wedge, then the Indians’ Triple-A manager. Akron Beacon Journal, 2/9/2003.
“He really grabbed the throttle the last two years at Triple-A. His intensity has been selective. Before he got to Buffalo, Eric’s throttle was wide open.” Shapiro, Cleveland Plain Dealer, at Wedge’s introductory press conference, 10/30/2002.
“A lot has been made of my intensity and aggressive nature. But I’ve learned to feel the moment. I’ll be very diverse with my personality.” Wedge at introductory press conference, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/30/2002.
“I’m very comfortable with the leadership role. I want to be the guy you can throw the good, the bad and the ugly at. I want to be accountable.” — Wedge, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/30/2002.
“Eric’s a tough, tough bad ass but a huge teddy bear at the same time. I don’t know how you combine those two, but he does it. That’s probably the biggest trick of all.” — Wedge’s younger brother, Ryan, Wichita Eagle, 3/30/2003.
“I’m clear with what I want, and the way we play the game is non-negotiable. I’m a very passionate person, but I keep an even keel.” Wedge, Crain’s Cleveland Business, 3/24,2003.
“A relentless commitment to communicate and the understanding of how essential positive and consistent communication is in the development of our young players and in helping any team reach its potential.” — Shapiro when asked what assets Wedge brings to a young, developing team, Crain’s Cleveland Business, 3/24/2003.
“If I’m going to have a moment, it’s going to be by myself.” Wedge on the sounds of venting coming from his office after tough losses, followed by a stoic manager when the doors opened to the press, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/14/2004.
“I’ll tell you who Eric Wedge reminds me of. He reminds me of Walter Alston, a quiet kind of guy who was not really recognized until late in his career. The thing with Eric Wedge is that he is a great communicator, not only with his staff, his players, but everyone he comes across. He is always positive. Negativity never comes out of his mouth. And he is very organized, someone who looks to detail.” — Indians advisor John Goryl, a former Twins manager, on Wedge, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/16/2006.
“We know there’s a certain way Wedgie expects us to play the game. After awhile, instead of him having to say something, guys who have been here for awhile — if there’s something that needs to be said, we’ll say it.” Cleveland DH Travis Hafner, Columbus Dispatch, 3/23/2008.
“But they got a new manager in 2003 (Wedge) and I was put on standby. I had to be a totally different person. I couldn’t do that.” — Reds All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips, saying his game was stifled after Wedge replaced Joel Skinner as manager, leading to his being traded to Cincinnati in 2006, Dayton Daily News, 5/22/2009.
“People always ask me who you pattern yourself after but there’s not one person in particular. It’s a dozen, two dozen coaches. It’s people from multiple sports. Sometimes it’s people I have a great deal of respect for that have never coached. (Developing a style) is just about who you are, being strong and understanding what comes with the territory.” — Wedge, Buffalo News, 10/17/2007.
“I’m a big believer in being accountable for what you do. I take responsibility for this.” Wedge on the day he was fired, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/30/2009
“Joel’s (Skinner, Indians coach and son of former major-league manager Bob Skinner) dad said that until you’ve been fired, you haven’t really been a coach or manager. I told Joel to call him and tell him that I’m a real manager now.” Wedge on day he was fired, Akron Beacon-Journal, 10/1/2009.
“He was behind you every day. He had your back. Eric is very intense; he likes to go to war.” Cleveland outfielder Grady Sizemore after Wedge’s firing, Akron Beacon Journal, 10/1/2009.
“Sometimes he was a little tough. Sometimes it bothered me, but at the same time he helped me.I understood it when he said something. And it never seemed like he had a problem with the guys.” Jhonny Peralta after Wedge’s firing, Akron Beacon Journal, 10/1/2009.
“He was a tough guy to please. He always seemed to find something wrong with what I did, so it made me a lot tougher in not being satisfied and making sure that I was working hard and trying to get better every day.” — Former Indians pitcher CC Sabathia after Wedge was fired, Associated Press, 10/1/2009.
“Eric has been the epitome of a team player. He’s demonstrated consistency, strength, a tireless work ethic, and in my mind he’s an exemplary leader. It’s been a privilege to work with him.” Shapiro at press conference to announce Wedge’s firing. Akron Beacon Journal, 10/1/2009.
“Managers often become the fall guys for what is an organizational failure…We will look for a manager who has some of the strengths of Eric. He was a very good manager, and he will be again.” — Indians president Paul Dolan at same press conference, Akron Beacon Journal, 10/1/2009.
“I’m guessing they will now.” Shapiro after Wedge’s firing, when it was noted the manager never seemed to be embraced by the fans, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/30/2009.
“I really don’t know why. Eric is a guy who is consistent with the values of Northeast Ohio. He’s a hard worker, a blue-collar guy. I think in the end maybe it’s because this is an entertainment business,and Eric isn’t flamboyant enough. He kept his feelings internal at all times to protect his players. But sometimes the fans wanted tdo see those emotions on his shirt-sleeve. But believe me, as someone who was next to him, those emotions were there.” Shapiro on why fans didn’t warm up to Wedge, Buffalo News, 10/4/2009.
“To a man, the guys who took a year off said it was the best thing they did for their careers and personal lives. The ones that got right back into it said they wish they would have taken a year off.” — Wedge explaining why he planned to spend the 2010 season out of baseball after being fired, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 1/29/2010.