Eric Wedge (Trading Card DB)

Eric Wedge

This article was written by Karl Cicitto

Eric Wedge (Trading Card DB)Eric Wedge was a chronically injured catcher and designated hitter who appeared in 39 games with the Red Sox and Rockies from 1991 to 1994. Wedge then became an accomplished field leader, winning Manager of the Year awards three times in the minors and in the American League in 2007 as he led the Cleveland Indians to a 96-66 won-lost record and a division title.

Wedge’s personality has been described as a “500 megavolt Transformer.”1 Self-confidence is his hallmark. His personal role model is actor John Wayne.

Explaining his managing style, Wedge said, “The values that I live by in regard to this game are just not negotiable but I do it with a common-sense approach…If you are going to be in a leadership position leading young people, you need to understand exactly what your values are, what you are going to stand firm on, and what you are going to bend on.”2

After 10 years of managing in the majors (2003-09; 2011-13), Wedge stepped back. He remained in baseball as a scout, broadcaster, and coach at the collegiate level.

Eric Michael Wedge was born on January 27, 1968, to Thomas and Nina Lee (née Westerfield) Wedge in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Thomas worked as a driver, manager, and dispatcher in trucking.3 Nina was a graduate of St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing.4 Eric has a younger brother named Ryan.

Wedge attended Fort Wayne public schools and played in the Wallen Little League. At Northrop High School as a freshman, he was the starting DH on the 1983 Indiana State Championship team. He played catcher on Team Indiana, which defeated Team California to win the Great Lakes All Star High School Classic.

Wedge was not selected in the June 1986 MLB amateur draft, but was recruited by several colleges, selecting Wichita State over Purdue and Wright State.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound catcher hit well as a freshman and earned praise for his defense. “The thing we’re most happy with is his ability to call a game and command the defensive side of the game,” said coach Gene Stephenson.5

The Shockers excelled in the three seasons that Wedge played for them, going 183-52. They reached the NCAA Tournament three times and won the College World Series in 1989.6 Wedge won the MVP Award for the NCAA Western Region playoffs in that championship year. He was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award.7 Wedge was also named a first team ABCA All American.8

Wedge was selected by the Red Sox in the third round of the June 1989 amateur draft. He was aggressive. He wanted to start at the Double-A level and asked for twice as much money as Boston offered.9

Wedge said the negotiation ended with a compromise on his signing bonus. “We met in the middle at 75k. Larry Thomas, another scout for the Red Sox, came to my parents’ house in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and got it done in one day with one phone call.”10

He signed and split the 1989 season between Single-A Elmira (New York) and Double-A New Britain (Connecticut).

Wedge hit acceptably in Elmira and called a good game. On August 17 he was promoted to New Britain sporting a .235 average and seven home runs. The press reported that Elmira had lost a team leader.11

Three weeks earlier, Wedge had impressed at a game in Cooperstown, the annual Hall of Fame Game exhibition at Doubleday Field. The Cincinnati Reds, delayed in Montreal, had to cancel. Instead, the Boston Red Sox faced a squad comprised of players from its minor league system. Wedge, one of the minor leaguers, had a single and a home run in three at-bats. “I came here to have some fun, but I also came here to…show the brass what I could do,” he said.12 His homer was the longest hit of the day, a 400-foot shot into the trees beyond left-center field.13

Wedge finished the 1989 season in New Britain. He showed power but lacked consistency. He was nonetheless valuable to the organization because Boston’s established catcher, Rich Gedman, was in decline. Wedge returned to New Britain for the 1990 campaign.

By the 1990 All-Star break, Wedge was touted as one of Boston’s best catching prospects. He was elected starting catcher in the Eastern League All-Star Game. He continued to display skill in handling pitchers and was not shy about giving them in-game feedback. But he still had work to do: his throwing was weak, and he was batting only .248.14

The New Britain Red Sox were surprising in 1990. The team batted .241 with just 31 home runs but had good pitching. Despite a negative run differential, the Britsox made it to the Eastern League Championship Series. They succeeded without their star third baseman, Jeff Bagwell, who had been traded to Houston several days prior to the playoffs.

In the offseason, Wedge’s shoulder was surgically repaired. In spring training, he worked on hitting with Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, who predicted a great season for him.15 Showing faith, the Red Sox started him in Triple-A Pawtucket (Rhode Island) for the 1991 season.16

Wedge hit .143 there and more injuries followed. He tore a forearm muscle and was reassigned to New Britain, where he was diagnosed with a torn knee ligament. Near the end of May he had arthroscopic knee surgery.17 As of July 20, he was playing in Single-A Winter Haven. (Florida)18 By the end of the month, though, Wedge was back in Pawtucket.19

When rosters expanded, Wedge got his first call-up to Boston and made his major-league debut on October 5. Pinch-hitting for Jack Clark, Wedge hit a single in the ninth inning off Chris George in his only at-bat of 1991.

Wedge was assigned to Pawtucket once again for 1992 and settled into the designated hitter role to which he was limited because of a rotator cuff inflammation. Although one might have expected the ailment to hamper his swing too, he hit well. At .305 as of mid-August, he was batting 60 points higher than Tony Peña, Boston’s starting catcher.20

The 1992 Boston Red Sox, managed by Butch Hobson, needed help. They were in sixth place (55-67) when Wedge started for the first time in a major-league game on August 21. Randy Johnson struck out Wedge (the DH that night) in his first two at-bats. In the ninth inning, Wedge lashed a Shawn Barton pitch into the left field stands for his first career home run, driving in Peña, too. Those were Boston’s only runs in a 5-2 loss.

Wedge tantalized fans by hitting five homers in only 68 at-bats as he played with the Red Sox for the balance of 1992. Then the injury bug bit again. Hobson told the press that Wedge would have surgery on his right elbow after the season ended.21

Eric Wedge (Trading Card DB)Assuming the Red Sox were not planning to stick with Jack Clark – who was at the end of the line – Wedge seemed to be a candidate for DH with the Red Sox in 1993. That became moot when the Red Sox left Wedge unprotected in the November expansion draft. He was taken by Colorado with the 48th pick to be Joe Girardi’s backup.22

In February 1993, it became apparent that Wedge’s right elbow would disrupt the plan. “I can do everything but hit and throw,” he observed. “I can’t throw without pain – even a gentle toss.”23

Wedge spent most of the 1993 season in the minors, playing in 28 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs and Single-A Central Valley (California). Still blessed with power, he hit six home runs in 133 plate appearances. Called up by the Rockies in September, Wedge pinch-hit in eight games and caught a full nine innings in another appearance.

Wedge was by then nearly unplayable as a catcher. The Rockies released him, and the Red Sox signed him for 1994. He hit well for Pawtucket but went hitless in a two-game call-up to Boston. The following year, he returned to Pawtucket, where he played in 108 games, the majority at first base, swatting another 20 home runs.

The Red Sox did not retain the 28-year-old for 1996. Wedge spent the next two seasons in Triple-A, with Toledo in the Tigers organization and Scranton, a Phillies affiliate. He was still hitting home runs but was no longer a major league prospect. His playing days ended in 1997 with Scranton at age 29.

During the 1997 season, Wedge took stock. He’d had seven surgeries in seven years. His knees hurt. He announced he was interested in managing. Surprisingly, he did not get one offer to run a club – he got two.24

The Phillies offered him a job as skipper of a short-season Single-A team. Mark Shapiro, then Cleveland’s Director of Minor League Operations, spoke to Wedge about an opening with the Columbus (Georgia) Red Stixx, a full-season Single-A affiliate. Wedge went with a rising Cleveland organization. He led the Stixx to a won-lost record of 59-81, finishing in last place.25

Wedge recalled how deep his immersion into the manager role was and how strong his commitment became.

“Columbus, the first town I managed in, reminds me that Fort Benning was about 20 minutes away,”he said. “I, as a 30-year-old manager, needed to make sure my kids didn’t get in trouble or get their butts kicked if they went 20 minutes across the bridge. I was 30, and some of these kids were 22, 23 years old; so, I wasn’t too far removed from them. I just wanted to make sure they kept their noses clean. It was a crash course. I remember after my very first game I stayed in the office that night, in order to get all the work done. It just took me so long and I wanted to do it right, next thing I know it was four am and I had to be back in the ballpark, so I just slept in the chair in my office. I felt like I did a pretty good job. We had a horrible record, but the players got better.”26

The next year he managed Single-A Kinston (North Carolina). The team posted a won-lost record of 79-58, showing a dramatic jump in offense and wins. It was a marked improvement by a team with no player more recognizable than the middling Dustan Mohr – unless you count 18-year-old C.C. Sabathia, who got into just seven games. Wedge was named 1999 Carolina League Manager of the Year.27

Shapiro promoted Wedge to manage the Double-A Akron Aeros for 2000. He took the club from mediocrity (69-71) to some success (75-68). Sabathia started 17 games and was among Wedge’s central rotation pieces.

Wedge managed the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons for the 2001 season. There he led talented youngsters who went on to play 10 or more years in the big leagues, including Milton Bradley and Jake Westbrook. Under Wedge, the 2001 Bisons rode improved pitching to 91 wins and finished first. Wedge was named International League Manager of the Year.

On a personal note, Wedge walked into a TGIF Fridays in Buffalo in May of 2001 and met the restaurant manager, Kate Kulniszewski. He assessed her quickly as beautiful, smart and confident. Nine months later during a press tour for the Bisons, Wedge proposed to Kate as she sat in a red chair at the Adams Mark Hotel in Buffalo. They were married on Nov. 11, 2002. The couple bought that red chair and kept it.28

The Wedges later welcomed two children, daughter Ava in 2006 and son Cash in 2008.

Wedge returned to Buffalo for the 2002 season. The Bisons finished in second place (87-57) and Wedge was named The Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians needed a culture change. Shapiro, who had become GM of the big club in 2001, fired manager Charlie Manuel during the 2002 season. Shapiro didn’t immediately consider the 35-year-old Wedge ready to be a big-league skipper but brought him in for a conversation because of his success in the minors. Wedge was intense. Shapiro realized, “Within an hour of us talking, I was like, wow, I have to consider this guy.” They set up a more formal interview and Shapiro soon decided that no one other than Wedge would do. He was hired as the Indians’ manager for 2003.29

The Indians were in a rebuilding mode. Established players such as Jim Thome and Roberto Alomar left via trade or free agency. The front office believed these moves left talent on the roster – but it was getting old. Ellis Burks was 38. Omar Vizquel was 36. Travis Fryman was 33.

The loss of the established players and the aging of the remaining stars did not help Cleveland in 2003. The team lost 94 games, up from 88. The next season was better. With the addition of slugger Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, and first-time all-star Ronnie Belliard, the Indians improved in 2004 to 80-82, good for third place in the Central Division. Appreciation for Wedge rose. There was even talk of him winning the AL Manager of the Year in newspapers.30

In 2005, the Tribe was even better, with 93 wins, good for second place in the Central Division. Starting pitching was improved and unconventional closer Bob Wickman saved 45 games. They won 17 of 19 games in a dazzling run between September 5 and 24 and were in contention for the wild card until Boston clinched it on October 2.31

At the end of the Indians’ final home game, the fans rose to their feet in Jacobs Field and gave their team a round of applause. Despite missing the postseason, the ovation showed that the fans appreciated an unexpectedly successful season.32

Wedge finished second for AL Manager of the Year, which was awarded to Ozzie Guillén of the White Sox.

After three straight seasons of improvement, the trend reversed as the Indians won 78 games in 2006, finishing fourth. Shapiro did not blame Wedge.33

The pinnacle of Wedge’s managerial career came when the 2007 Indians won 96 games and the AL Central division. The team settled into first place on August 15 and stayed there. They tied Boston for the best record in the major leagues.

Cleveland faced the Yankees in the Division Series. After taking the first game 12-3, they won a dramatic Game Two, which became known as the “Midge Game.” Andy Pettitte shut out the Indians for 6 1/3 innings before Yankees manager Joe Torre handed the ball to Joba Chamberlain. Staked to a 1-0 lead by a Melky Cabrera home run, Chamberlain got two quick outs to end the seventh inning. When he came out in the eighth inning, a horde of Lake Erie midges descended on the diamond. Many of them found Chamberlain’s bare neck, distracting the pitcher, who yielded two walks, two wild pitches, a hit batsman, and the game-tying run. The Indians broke the tie and won in the 11th inning, taking a 2-0 lead in the five-game series.

Rumors that Torre’s job was in jeopardy circulated. Asked about Torre, Wedge told the press, “Joe Torre is, to me, one of the greatest managers of all time…I have nothing but respect for him.”34

Torre said he regretted not pulling his team off the field when the midges distracted Chamberlain. On October 19, 2007, 11 days after losing the division series, he left the Yankees after being offered a pay cut.35

Wedge credited the mental attitude of his players for helping them handle the insects better than the Yankees. “They were bothering all of us, but I attribute [how the team reacted) to our toughness. I’m a big believer in mental toughness. You have to be tough to play this game. The mental side of it leads the way. And our guys didn’t let it get in the way, and it did get to them in the other dugout.”36

Wedge also believed that experience with insects helped his team. “The advantage we had was that it was best if you just don’t mess with them. You don’t try to spray them. Don’t try to get rid of them. You just have to man-up and try to get through it as best you can.”37

Cleveland buzzed as the Indians eliminated New York in four games and moved on to face the Red Sox in the Championship Series. Boston hit Sabathia hard in game one, taking it 10-3. The Indians answered by winning the next three games on a barrage of hitting and steady pitching. The Red Sox then took control, outscoring Cleveland 30-5 in the final three games, mastered by Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Wedge was voted American League Manager of the Year for 2007. Soon, however, he and the Indians began another rebuild. Free agents Sabathia, Martinez, and Cliff Lee departed. The Indians slid to an 81-81 record in 2008 and won just 65 games in 2009.

On September 30, 2009, five days after losing their 11th game in a row, the team announced that Wedge would not be the manager in 2010. The financial obligations of his contract would be honored. Shapiro and John Dolan, team president, spoke favorably of Wedge and even said the team’s failure was due to the entire organization. Wedge, who agreed to stay and manage the last few games of the season, took it in stride with the media, saying, “You haven’t really been a coach or a manager until you’ve been fired…I’m a real manager now.””38

He did not take a new position for the 2010 season, instead taking time to think and reboot.39

On October 18, 2010, the Seattle Mariners announced that Wedge would be their next manager, the team’s seventh in seven years.40 “Eric brings the energy, passion and leadership that we think is important…he has a track record of winning at the major league and minor league levels.”, said Jack Zduriencik, the Mariners’ general manager.41

Wedge and Zduriencik worked on a rebuild. Seattle’s pitching was good and included Felix Hernandez, the 2010 Cy Young Award winner. The offense, led by 37-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, was considered by some to be the worst since the advent of the DH era. King Felix commented on that situation in March: “We have to be better. If we’re worse, we don’t belong in the big leagues.”42

Seattle’s reputation as offensive weaklings played out. After a 43-43 start, they lost 17 consecutive games in which they were outscored 101 to 44. They finished with 67 wins in 2011.

After Zduriencik sought roster improvements for 2012, Wedge was optimistic. “We’re a much better team, you can see it in how players approach each day in camp. They’ve taken ownership”43 Yet Mariner hitters finished last in the major leagues in hitting, on-base percentage, and slugging. They won 75 games and finished last again.

The Seattle club had looked different in 2012 after trading away Ichiro. Wedge was positive that the team was getting better.44 There was only marginal improvement. The M’s flirted with the .500 mark over the first three months of the 2013 season. However, forced to bring up young players all year to augment the offense, they sputtered out of contention by midseason. Then another setback occurred.

Seattle was riding a six-game winning streak on July 22 when Wedge suffered dizzy spells while watching batting practice and was helped off the field. He spent two nights in the hospital.45 At age 45, he had suffered a mild stroke.

Wedge missed 27 games, of which the Mariners won just 12. When he returned to the club on August 23, he was rested and had lost weight. He was a changed man. “When the doctor looks you in the eye and says, ‘Slow yourself down or else,’ you know he’s not joking about it,” said Wedge. 46

During the 2013 season, the Mariners gave no indication that they would bring Wedge back in 2014. This caused him to go public late in the season. “I want to be here…I’m committed…I’m all in…I’m here to help these kids become good solid big-league players…So if that’s not enough for them [the owners], then so be it,” he told the press 47

Wedge informed his players on September 27 that he would be stepping down after the last game of the season. “It’s gotten to the point where it’s painfully obvious to me that I just wasn’t going to be able to move forward with this organization. We see things differently,” he said.48

The front office denied they had planned to jettison Wedge. “I was looking forward to having Eric back,” Zduriencik said.49

The Mariners finished the season with 71 wins, putting an end to Wedge’s big-league managing career, at least for now.

In 2014 and 2015, Wedge worked as a studio analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. He spent 2016 through 2018 with the Toronto Blue Jays as a player development advisor evaluating college talent50 for Shapiro.51

In May 2019, it was announced that Wedge would return to his alma mater, Wichita State, as the head baseball coach. In 2020, his first year at the helm, the team won 13 of its first 15 games before the season was shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic. He compiled a 65-61 won-lost record over three seasons with the Shockers before taking a leave in October 2022 for health reasons.52

In December 2022, Wichita State announced that Wedge would not return. On February 14, 2023, he reached an agreement with the university to settle his contract for $675,000. Around that time, Wedge texted the Wichita Eagle newspaper stating that he planned to return to major-league baseball in some capacity in the future.53

Wedge – still just 55 as of 2023 – confirmed that his goal is to join a major-league team again. “Yeah, I would like an opportunity to manage at the big-league level. But short of that I just want to lead. I want to be part of an organization that has values similar to myself, cares about the game, cares about players, likes players. I’m always looking to get better. I want to be around people that can help me get better and I can help them get better.”54

Last revised: June 27, 2023



Special thanks to Eric Wedge for his memories.

This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and David Bilmes and checked for accuracy by members of SABR’s fact-checking team.



1 John McGrath, “Spring is in the air at Safeco,” News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington), January 28, 2011: 1.

2 Phone interview, Eric Wedge with Karl Cicitto, April 17, 2023 (hereafter Wedge-Cicitto interview).

3 Obituary, Thomas Wedge,

4 “Wedge Westerfield,” Evansville (Indiana) Press, January 6, 1963: 24.

5 Tom Shine, “Freshman Wedge catches on at WSU,” Wichita (Kansas) Eagle-Beacon, April 11, 1987: 4D.

6 2023 Wichita State University Fact Book (online media guide): 28.

7 AP, “Minnesota’s Hrbek files/Notebook,” South Bend (Indiana) Tribune, November 10, 1989: D5.

8 AP, “Shockers’ Wedge named All American,” Wichita (Kansas) Eagle, June 2, 1989: 4B.

9 Steve Fainaru, “Wedge plays hardball,” Boston Globe, June 18, 1989: 58.

10 Email, Eric Wedge to Karl Cicitto, June 8, 2023

11 Matt Hillmann, “Knee injury sends Spencer home early,” Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York), August 17, 1989: 5C.

12 Steve Buckley, “Elmira’s Wedge swings for Cooperstown’s fences,” Hartford (Connecticut) Courant, July 25, 1989: D6.

13 Steve Fainaru, “Smith no show for Fame Game,” Boston Globe, July 25, 1989: 41.

14 Viv Bernstein, “Wedge in charge as Britsox catcher,” Hartford Courant, June 21, 1990: C1.

15 Nick Cafardo, “The prospectus has changed,” Boston Globe, June 16, 1991: 57.

16 Nick Cafardo, “Wedge has all the tools,” Boston Globe, April 7, 1991: 85.

17 Keith Ryan, “Cheshire’s Ausmus eyeing shot with Double-A Albany/minor league notebook,” Meriden (Connecticut) Record Journal, May 26, 1991: D7.

18 “Red Sox Minor League Averages,” Boston Globe, July 21, 1991: 33.

19 Keith Ryan, “Pratt’s career revitalized,” Meriden Record Journal, July 28, 1991: D3.

20 Nick Cafardo, “Ailing Pena sits out/Wedge split decision,” Boston Globe, August 15, 1992: 67.

21 Larry Whiteside, “Palermo determined,” Boston Globe, September 25, 1992: 50.

22 AP, “Rockies manager happy camper,” Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, Colorado), February 22, 1993: 6D.

23 “Rockies manager happy camper.”

24 Mike Rice, “New Stixx manager ponders possibilities,” Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Georgia), January 18, 1998: C5.

25 Rice, “New Stixx manager ponders possibilities.”

26 Wedge-Cicitto interview.

27 Eric Wedge biography, Wichita State Athletics, accessed February 28, 2023 (

28 Ryan Divish, “Eric Wedge will try to revive…”, The Olympian (WA), Feb 13, 2011. Accessed March 2, 2023.

29 Ryan Divish, “Play Ball, Pilgrim,” The Olympian, February 13, 2011: B1.

30 Joe Milicia, “Indians Wedge balks at manager of the year talk,” Lima (Ohio) News, August 15, 2004: 21.

31 Nick Cafardo, “Yankees are set to go coastal,” Boston Globe, October 3, 2005: D9.

32 Tom Withers, “Reasons abound for Indians collapse,” Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle Gazette, October 4, 2005: 11.

33 Terry Pluto, “Indians understand patience,” Lima News, August 5, 2006: 18.

34 Peter Botte, “Eric Wedge offers Torre support,” New York Daily News, October 8, 2007, accessed March 7, 2023 (

35 Staff and Wire reports, “Torre ends tenure after insult,” Poughkeepsie (New York) Journal, October 20, 2007: 1C.

36 Wedge-Cicitto interview.

37 Wedge-Cicitto interview.

38 Sheldon Ocker, “Reasons for Wedge dismissal vague,” Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, October 1, 2009: C5.

39 Wedge-Cicitto interview.

40 Tim Booth, “Seattle selects Wedge next manager,” Sioux City (Iowa) Journal, October 19, 2009: B5.

41 Kibby Arnold, “It’s official, Wedge is M’s next manager,” Kitsap (Washington) Sun, October 19, 2010: B1.

42 Larry LaRue, “Yes, still challenged,” The Olympian (Olympia, Washington), March 31, 2011: B1.

43 Larry LaRue, “Playing it straight,” The Olympian, March 25, 2012: B1.

44 Ryan Divish, “Spring training recap,” The Olympian, March 31, 2013: B6

45 AP, “Morales, Zunino homers produce 7th win in a row”, The Olympian (Washington), July 23, 2013: B1.

46 Ryan Divish, “Healthier Wedge returns to M’s dugout,” Kitsap Sun, August 24, 2013: B2.

47 Tim Booth, “I feel like I’m hanging out there,” Longview (Washington) Daily News, September 26, 2013: D2

48 Ryan Divish, “Wedge tells Mariners he won’t return,” The Olympian, September 28, 2013: B1

49 Ryan Divish, “Mariners top priority: hire a manager,” The Olympian, October 4, 2013: B1.

50Taylor Eldrige, “Ex Shocker, MLB manager hired as next baseball coach,” Wichita Eagle, May 30, 2019: 1B.

51 Transactions, Courier-Post Camden, New Jersey), February 7, 2016: C2.

52 Wichita State Media Guide online, accessed March 22, 2023 (

53 Emmie Boese, “University reaches payout and settlement agreement with former head baseball coach Eric Wedge,” The Sunflower (Wichita, Kansas), February 22, 2023, accessed on March 22, 2023 (

54 Wedge-Cicitto interview.

Full Name

Eric Michael Wedge


January 27, 1968 at Fort Wayne, IN (USA)

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