Q&A with Cubs Pitcher Carl Edwards Jr.

From who he views as his heroes to how he felt about winning the 2016 World Series to his best advice for kids who want to grow up and be a professional ball player, Carl Edwards Jr. shares all this and more in this special Q & A for MS&F readers. Ready? Here goes:

1. How did you get into baseball? My dad was a big inspiration. My family has all been involved in baseball including playing for recreation leagues growing up as well as the Bush Leagues in South Carolina for the Newberry Pirates.

2. What do you love most about the sport? I appreciate the opportunity to get out on the mound in front of the crowd and my teammates and the excitement and adrenaline rush that it brings to me. I love that baseball requires many different players all working together, and I’ve never seen that more evident than last year with our World Series Championship team.

3. What does your training regimen each week look like? As a pitcher, it is imperative that I maintain my flexibility while continuing to gain strength. I do stretching exercises for around an hour every day, and I work out with lower weights and high repetitions 4-5 times per week. Obviously, in the season, I have to be in tune with my pitching schedule, which is unpredictable in order to perform at peak performance. In the offseason, I work out five days a week and do much heavier lifting during that time. I also incorporate quite a bit of sprint work as well throughout the year.

4. How did it feel winning the World Series in 2016? Being a part of the Cubs’ team to win the 2016 World Series was incredibly humbling, and to date the most exciting thing to happen to me in my career. In my personal life, the birth of my beautiful daughter Ava was the most incredible experience, and parenting her along with Anquinette Smith has been the greatest joy I’ve had in my life. However, as a player, lifting that World Series trophy for all the fans of the Cubs has been a pinnacle. I plan on working as hard as I can to bring that trophy back to the north side of Chicago again!

5. What is a major obstacle you have had to overcome and how did you handle it? When I was a junior in high school, I lost my best friend and catcher on the baseball team in a car accident. I’m so grateful to his family and the many other people in our community that all came together to help each other through such a difficult time. His name is Will Bedenbaugh, and I still think of him every day. You may see me look to the sky at times on the mound, and while it is definitely my way of thanking God for the blessings he has given me, it is also a chance to recognize to Will that I know he is there with me. The significance of the phrase “Fly the W” takes on an even more special meaning to me.

6. Who are your heroes? Since I was young, my parents (Carl and Faith Edwards) have taught me to be respectful to others. We did not have it easy growing up as it was a challenge to make ends meet many months, but I always saw my parents turn to God and show their faith in God both through the good times and the tough times. They are my role models. As far as a baseball hero, my dad (Carl Edwards) is the epitome of a hero. He sacrificed so many hours and opportunities for me and my brother Chris. I can remember my dad even when I could barely throw the ball squatting down with a mitt and telling me to “hit the mitt.” Everyone tells me that my dad was a great player and had one of the best curveballs they’d ever seen, so I’m guessing that is where my ability comes from as well.

7. What would be your best piece of advice for kids growing up who want to be like you and play in MLB? I’m an African-American male from Prosperity, South Carolina. While it is full of great people who are willing to help others, it isn’t expected that I would make it to the major leagues to play baseball. However, I just kept listening to my coaches and working as hard as I could and found joy in playing the game. I would tell kids that no matter where you are or how talented or not someone may think you are, if you dare to stretch to achieve your greatest dreams, then you can reach them. It will not be easy and you will have to persevere, but if you stay focused on your goal, then it is always a possibility. Have fun playing the game, and work harder than those around you.

8. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers? I’m just so grateful to have the opportunity to share. I’d like to publicly thank my fiancé, Anquinette Smith, for all she does for Ava and me, and I’d like to thank my parents and my brother (Chris) for their support and all they have done to help me as a person and a player. I also want to thank so many people back in South Carolina for the incredible support! I thank so many kind people that I’ve seen in person and who have reached out online, and I want you to know that it means the world to all of us to have your support! It seems after waiting 108 years for a World Series trophy that it only makes sense to bring back a second one in 2017! Go Cubs, go!