As Ed Reed prepares to take his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, teammates, friends and coaches from his Ravens, college and high school years reflect on the legacy of the legendary Ravens safety with their favorite memories and never-before-heard stories.
As told to Glenn Clark
Stephen Weber was Ed Reed’s baseball coach at Destrehan High School.
He played every sport, and honestly he was the best athlete that we had there, but he decided to quit baseball after his freshman year. The summer after his junior year, he came to me and said, “You know, Coach, I want to come back out for baseball.” And I said, “Edward, it’s probably not a good idea. You’re being recruited in football.” And I said, “Baseball isn’t like other sports — you can’t just quit it for three years and then come back and play it. It’s not like that. You just can’t do that.” He says, “Come on, Coach,” so I said, “I’ll tell you what: play for us in the summertime, because we have a summer league, we’ll look at you and see what you can do.” He came out in the summer, and of course, I thought I was a good coach, I put him in center field. He played center field for me in American Legion baseball, did a good job, pitched just a little bit, and we played in big ballparks. We got back to Destrehan after the summertime and January rolls around and I did not expect to see Ed again. I thought, OK, he’s not coming back out — I can understand that.
When January rolls around, we start baseball practice again, and there’s Edward. And he walks up to us and says, “Bet you didn’t think you would see me again.” And this is what he told me. He said, “You know, Coach, we’ve got a little, small ballpark, you really don’t have to run in this outfield.” And he was right, our ballpark is very small, it’s not like you need anybody fast in the outfield. He said, “I can play third base, I know you need a third baseman.” I said, “Really? OK, I’m going to give you a try.” Guess what — he was my starting third baseman. Not only that, he was my No. 1 relief pitcher, and he was phenomenal.
I’ll tell you this: He played third base like a demon. He wasn’t the smoothest looking. If he would’ve played baseball all of his life and would have dedicated himself, I’m positive he would have been in the pros. But he also did this: he’s the only kid that ever hit three home runs for me in a game that year, his senior year. If you’ve ever watched the old Bugs Bunny commercial, when Bugs Bunny’s playing baseball and you throw him a curveball and he winds himself up? Our rule was, do not swing at a curveball, Edward. Don’t swing at it! Well, he couldn’t stop, he had to swing at it. And he would step out of the box and I’d shout, “Gosh darn it, don’t swing at a curveball!” And he would smile and say, “I just can’t help it because, Coach, if I swing at it and hit it, it’s going to go a long way!” He was such a blessing to have.
To read more memories of No. 20, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Reed.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jeanne Hall
Issue 255: June/July 2019