Eric Wedge has walked in the shoes of TinCaps manager-to-be Francisco Morales.
Wedge managed 10 seasons in the major leagues, but once upon a time he was as much a beginner at leading a team as Morales will be this spring.
Wedge was 30 years old when he got his first managing job in 1998 with the Single-A Columbus RedStixx.
Speaking Friday night at Party at the Park V, held at Parkview Field, Fort Wayne native Wedge offered some advice to Morales based on his own experiences as a first-time skipper.
"It’s all about leadership and caring about what you’re supposed to care about," Wedge said. "That’s the players and your game. There is nothing more important than the players and honoring and respecting the game of baseball.
"As long as you stick to your guns and live by that code, you can do a great job."
Wedge said it won’t always be about wins and losses, but about how much Morales and the TinCaps can improve.
"What a great place, though," Wedge said. "There is a great ballpark, a great following. I wish I would have had the chance back in the day to work some place like this."
Wedge managed the Cleveland Indians for seven seasons and resigned in 2013 after three years at the helm of the Seattle Mariners.
Now an analyst for ESPN, Wedge was the host for Friday’s ceremony, presented by the Indiana Sports Corp. in recognition of its 25th anniversary.
Funds were raised for The Wedge Foundation, which is dedicated to assisting women and children in need.
"Kate, my wife, and I have always felt strongly about any type of abuse or neglect when it comes to women and children," Wedge said. "We knew that was where we wanted to go. We were doing so much, we said we might as well start our own foundation."
Today is the 11th annual Eric Wedge Baseball Camp, held at the ASH Centre on 1701 Freeman St.
"It’s really grown," Wedge said. "We use baseball as a tool, but you can really make an impact. We’re going to run 300 or 400 kids through there, if not more. You’re talking to them. It’s a lot of fun."
Wedge said the Summit City is a great place to raise a family with a strong youth baseball apparatus, which is part of why he is excited for the 42-year-old Morales.
"I think he’s going to have a great opportunity here," Wedge said. "It’s a great town to be involved with sports."
Morales, like Wedge, was a catcher in his playing days. The adage is that catchers can often make the best managers.
"I know as a catcher you have to know every facet of the game," Wedge said. "It’s not just one or another. You have to know everything that’s happening, strategy. You have to be a general on the field. That’s something that’s easier to carry over into managing."
Notes: Former Journal Gazette columnist Ben Smith was presented with a community service award, while Komets broadcaster Bob Chase won the Hilliard Gates Lifetime Achievement Award.