Eric Wedge Resuscitates Sleeping Giant 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

WICHITA, Kan. — It is rare that a 10-year Major League manager changes course to coach college baseball. But that is exactly what Eric Wedge did when he became the skipper at Wichita State last May.

He is on a quest to turn the program around so that it is national powerhouse as it was during the 1980s and 1990s as the Shockers qualified for the College World Series seven times and won the national title in 1989 under Head Coach Gene Stephenson.

He previously was the manager of the Cleveland Indians for seven seasons and three more with the Seattle Mariners.

An All-American catcher for the Shockers in 1989, he played three years for the Shockers. In 226 games, he hit .333 with 45 home runs, 54 doubles, 206 RBI and 173 walks before being a third round draft pick by the Red Sox.

Since the Shockers last appearance at the College World Series in 1996, Wichita State hasn’t been back to the CWS for 23 years.

The powerhouse Stephenson built is now a distant memory.

Wichita State was ranked 30th in the March 16 Collegiate Baseball poll before the season was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Shockers finished 13-2 and won 12 straight games to end the season.

Mindset Crucial
“For me, mindset is where it all starts,” said Wedge.

“Changing the culture takes time. And only the players can really do that. One thing we can control from a coaching staff is initiating the mindset and changing the way they look at the game, world and each other.

“That is what we talked about from day one last fall. We got all the players and coaches together for the first time in the All-American room upstairs and talked to them about what I expect from them and what they should expect from me because it’s equal. This is a partnership and not a dictatorship.

“The coaching staff asked the players a lot of questions and expected them to have answers. If they didn’t have answers, we helped them find answers.

“There are certain non-negotiable rules with how we go about our business. We won’t give into that, must respect the game at all times and be good teammates.”

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