/ FACES Magazine October 2016
Born in Navan, Ontario, Erik Bédard began his baseball career with the Orleans Little League and the Ontario Baseball Association as a pitcher. As he grew older, Bédard added more and more speed to his fastball. After high-school, Bédard went to a tryout at Norwalk Community College and made the team as a walk-on player.In 1999, Bédard was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 6th round of the MLB draft that year. He made his MLB debut on April 17th, 2002, pitching for the Orioles as they took on the New York Yankees.
After experiencing a tough injury, Bédard worked his way back and was the Opening Day starting pitcher for the Orioles in 2007. Bédard also played for the Seattle Mariners, the Boston Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers. But, due to another unfortunate injury, his career was cut short as he announced his official retirement on June 11th, 2015.
FACES Magazine had the chance to catch up with the Ottawa native to discuss his early life in the Ottawa area, his journey to the MLB and some of his favourite experiences from his exciting his career.
How did it feel to be drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 6th round of the 1999 amateur draft?
I was actually out cutting the grass at home, but I had the portable in my pocket just waiting for the call. The draft was three days. The first two or three rounds are the first days, then the second day goes from three to ten and so on. The Orioles called, said I was drafted 6th round. I was really excited; I never really thought that would ever happen. My parents were there so it was a pretty exciting moment.
Tell us about some of your fondest moments growing up in Navan, Ottawa?
The best memory is probably playing with my buddy. My neighbor was one of my best friends, we always played outdoor hockey in the winter, and basketball and baseball in the summer. We played with other kids in the neighbourhood—we did that my whole life growing up. I guess
that’s why I like sports so much… because I grew up playing everyday.
Who was your biggest baseball reference growing up?
Growing up, I always watched the Jays. Pat Heinnken was a guy I watched a lot because I loved the way he pitched. After I got drafted, I actually got to meet him in Baltimore, so that was really cool.
Where was your favorite place to play in MLB?
I would say Fenway Park. Just the atmosphere – the fans are so close. If you’ve ever been there it’s pretty remarkable. Stadiums these days are bigger, and the fans are a little further from the players. But if you go to Boston the fans are super close, they are loud, they know the game and they boo you. They know a lot about baseball, and it’s just a really cool atmosphere.
Which of your teammates over the years have made the biggest impact on your career?
Felix Hernandez because of his competitiveness. I’ve seen a lot of guys get that much money and then slack off on being aggressive or on trying to get outs, but for him it didn’t matter. He would just go out there and do his best every game. Throughout his career, he’s put up some pretty remarkable numbers. He is a teammate that I would look up to.
How has the game changed throughout your career? Are there rules your’re not a fan of?
The slide rule at second base is one I think they will tweak. The replays of the plays on first base I’m actually a fan of. I’ve had it happen to me where the runner is out but is called safe or vice versa.
Looking back, what moment in your career are you most proud of?
My complete game 15 strikeouts I had against Texas. Its was 27 up, 27 down so I faced the minimum. I had two hits but there were 2 double plays right after so it was basically 27 up, 27 down. It was a big accomplishment for me, because it doesn’t happen very often.
What numbers did you wear throughout your career and why?
I wore 45 for a long time. Baltimore years, Seattle years – I’m not saying it’s a number that meant anything, but after the first couple years I didn’t want to get away from it. Later on in my career I wore 40 or 57 but those were just random numbers. When you switch teams it’s hard to keep the same number. For Boston I couldn’t get my number, because that was Pedro’s number.
You pitched for 6 different teams in the major leagues over your career. Which team was the most special to you and why?
Seattle was a lot of fun. I made some really good friends in Seattle; Felix Hernandez, Mark Lowe, Jason Vargas guys like that I’m pretty close with and it was a really nice place to live. I was living just outside Seattle at the time. It was beautiful.
What have you been doing lately following your retirement from professional baseball?
I play a lot of golf! (Laughs). I might get a job in baseball and see what’s out there that I would like to pursue, but right now I’m just waiting to see if there are any openings…they are pretty scarce right now because the season just started. I’ll wait until the end of the season and see what becomes available.
What is one thing your fans might not know about you?
I’m an avid hunter. I love the cat and mouse game of trying to get an animal. I’m a big white tail, elk, and moose hunter. I love the rush; it reminds me of the rush I would get from playing.
What pre-game rituals did you have before games?
I did the same thing every time, so I guess you could call that a ritual. At 6 o’clock I would put my pants on. By 6:05 I would get a cup of coffee. By 6:10 I would put my jersey on, and by 6:15 I would be in the trainers room stretching. Every start I would do the exact same thing. All starters have some type of routine.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re back in Ottawa?
Hangout with family and friends I haven’t seen in a while. Hunt. That’s really about it.
Who was the best hitter you ever played against during your career, and why?
There were a lot of great hitters but the player I hated playing against the most was Gary Scheffield. If you’ve seen him play you can probably attest to his violent swing. I threw hard when I was younger—95 or 96 but it didn’t matter what I threw he could turn on it and hit it a long way.