Woodward grew up in Covina, California. His mother, Cheryl, and father, David, owned a greenhouse that went bankrupt when he was 12 and led to his parents divorce.
Pop became a truck driver and Mom went to work to support her three daughters, Deanna, Cheri and Jeni, and her son. After the divorce, Woodward always had a father figure in his life in Tom Quinley, his PONY league and high school coach. Woodward's father died when Chris was 21.
Then, ex-Jays catcher Ernie Whitt and third-base coach Brian Butterfield became father figures. "You go 3-for-3 with three homers and if you don't back up a base, he will let you hear about it, which is the way it should be," Woodward said of Butterfield.
Like any minor leaguer, there were bumps in the road for Woodward. The worst was in 1996 at single-A Hagerstown.
"We were 2 1/2 months into the season, with 200 at-bats and I was hitting .190," Woodward said. "I remember looking at the stats, thinking I can go 50-for-50 and only be hitting .240."
- Chris really impressed then-Blue Jays manager Jim Fregosi with his attitude and improved bat when he made his Major League debut midway through the 1999 season.
Woodward says that veteran utility infielder Craig Grebeck really helped him adapt to the Majors during the 2000 season, showing him how to get ready to play after sitting for a few days. "He helped me a lot in staying ready to go and realizing what my role is on the team," Woodward said.
- Chris and wife Erin live in Toronto during the off-season. (Erin is a native of Toronto). They have one child. They donate time to several charities, including trips to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.
- Woodward's shining moment came against the Seattle Mariners Aug. 7, 2002, when he became the first Blue Jays shortstop and just the 15th shortstop in major-league history to hit three home runs in one game.
Woodward is a baseball survivor. He was a 54th-round draft choice in 1994. The draft doesn't even go that deep anymore, which illustrates what a longshot succees his career has been.
Woodward broke Spring Training as the full-time starter in both 2003 and 2004, but he lost his job to Mike Bordick one year and Chris Gomez the next. His production was curtailed after a hamstring injury early in the season and a bout with collitis after the All-Star break in 2004.
- Mets manager Willie Randolph had pushed for the Mets to sign Woodward during general manager Omar Minaya's winter shuffling. Randolph would later admit to being impressed with the scrappy demeanor of Woodward, whom Randolph saw as an opponent with the Blue Jays.
Once Randolph got Woodward in 2005 spring camp, he put an arm around the career infielder's shoulder and suggested that Woodward start taking balls in the outfield—and anywhere else possible—in order to appear in as many games as possible. Woodward, anointed the Mets' new jack-of-all-trades with Joe McEwing's release, made his outfield debut 10 days into the season on April 14.
Woodward is a real good teammate.
During the 2005 season, Chris, wife Erin, and daughter Sophie, lived in a beautiful apartment building on Central Park West in New York City.
Chris met his wife, Erin, in Toronto. They were married on Ocober 6, 2001. wedding had been originally planned for late in November but then was rescheduled due to the health of Erin's father, who was terminally ill with brain cancer.
"We wanted to make sure her dad saw the wedding, so we completely changed all the plans," said Woodward, who grew up in California and attended Mt. San Antonio College in the Golden State.
But, then, the tragic events of September 11 happened and, because Major League Baseball postponed games for several days, it moved the end of the season back a week, which coincided with the weekend of the wedding.
"We had to scramble for hotel rooms and it got hectic because we still had three games to play," said Woodward. "It also left me in a bit of a conflict with the games. My family had already flown in from California and we had paid for the wedding site."
The only thing Woodward could do was approach Buck Martinez, who was the Blue Jays manager at the time.
For Woodward, it was somewhat awkward, considering he was only in his second full year in the big leagues and he wasn't sure what his skipper would say.
"He reacted really cool," said Woodward. "He understood the situation and he told me to take the rest of the weekend off, considering we were like 30 games out of first place or something like that."
Woodward missed the Saturday game but decided to make the Sunday game, which was the last of the season and the day Tony Fernandez retired from baseball.
"I think I surprised Buck because when I walked into the locker room the next day, he kind of did a double take, like, 'How the heck is he here?'" said Woodward, who said he only got two hours of sleep from the night before. "I really didn't expect to play that day, I just wanted to be there with the team."
In the ninth inning, the Blue Jays rallied against the Indians -- after Fernandez had tipped his hat to the crowd in his final at-bat and started his postgame shower.
When Fernandez's turn to bat came in the ninth, Martinez called Woodward to pinch-hit.
"That was the first time I picked up a bat that day and I had to face John Rocker," said Woodward. "The first time I swung, let's just say, it wasn't pretty. But I did end up getting a walk. Which was good, considering—especially against Rocker." (Chris Girandola-MLB.com-6/22/06)
Chris is the personication of the experssion: "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog."
Woodward is one of the hardest working players you will find. And he is the ultimate professional.
October 1, 2009: Chris' wife, Erin, delivered a healthy baby boy, Grady Maclean.
In the Woodward household, the husband has the less stressful job in 2020. Chris is only a Major League manager. Erin Woodward, his wife, is an emergency room nurse in Arizona. “She puts herself at risk every time she walks into an ER,” Woodward said. “She is exposed to a lot of different things.”
That is why Chris and Erin appeared in a Twitter video on March 25, 2020, to thank all of the first responders and healthcare workers who have put in long hours during the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are a lot of people putting themselves at risk,” Woodward said. “A lot of these people, without protective measures, are exposing themselves over and over again. It’s just a matter of time before some of these healthcare workers end up getting the virus.
“They are willing to do that because they are trying to save lives. We’re just trying to say thank you to all these people who are on the front lines. They are putting themselves at risk for all of us.”
Chris, Erin and their three children are at their home in Chandler, Ariz., just south of Phoenix. Their oldest daughter Sophie had her senior year of high school disrupted by the national emergency. Her mother had been taking time off from working in the emergency room to go back to school for more training. Chris Woodward said it’s just a matter of time before she is called back to duty.
Daniels, genereal manager Jon Woodward and their wives have also been providing meals for healthcare workers at Medical City of Arlington and Dallas. “We are just trying to help as much as we can,” Woodward said. “Family and friends, people are really struggling in the world and in our communities in Arizona, where we live, and in Texas. We know people are really struggling through this whole situation. We are just trying to do anything we can to help out.”
As far as baseball, Woodward is staying in touch with his players almost daily and getting updates on what they are doing to stay ready once it is time to go back to work. “A lot of these guys were ready when we got stopped, so we are trying to maintain that as much as possible without breaking protocol,” Woodward said. “When this thing does resume, we are going to have to figure out a way to play baseball.”
Major League Baseball’s goal is to play as many games as possible once the 2020 season is able to begin. Woodward and his staff continue to talk about all the possibilities. “We are trying to get ahead of anything that may come at us,” Woodward said. “We are trying to prepare for every scenario. When we do get back, and it will happen, what are we going to do to get ready?
“If they give us a week, we’ll find a way. We’ll make do with whatever they give us. If that means we have to hold [pitchers] back as far as the innings, we’ll have to do that. MLB will probably notice that and give us extra players. They’ll figure out a way to keep guys from being injured or putting guys at risk.” (Sullivan - mlb.com - 3/25/2020)
May 9, 2020: Chris Woodward on his wife, Erin on Mothers Day:
Erin Woodward’s Last Dance has been scuttled by the COVID-19 outbreak. The “baby” Rangers of East Valley Baseball in Arizona are hardly the only kids who aren’t able to play organized baseball this summer. But the wife of Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward and mother of Grady, 10, was hoping for a much happier ending to her time as Little League manager before the family moved to Texas this summer.
This was not how an energetic and devoted mother of three was planning to celebrate Mother’s Day 2020.
“Everybody was so sad,” Erin said. “I was like, this is terrible. The kids were really upset, and the parents were, too. I wanted to have a proper goodbye and have one final season with the kids that I really love.”
There is always the possibility of managing a team in Texas. What Little League team wouldn’t want to be led by the wife of a Major League manager, especially since she has seven fall and spring seasons of experience and loved every minute of it? So what if it can be twice as stressful managing your own Little League team with parents critiquing your every moment, while thousands of fans are doing the same to your husband? Hard to say which manager has more at stake.
“I am growing out all my gray hair,” Erin said. “I have a ton of gray hair, and I’m transitioning it out while we are in quarantine. It’s super stressful. To be honest with you, there were many games where I had my phone in the dugout with the Rangers game on while I am coaching and watching my kids play.”
So how did Erin end up being a veteran Little League manager? For one, she is hardly a baseball novice. She grew up playing baseball with her dad in Toronto until she was in fifth grade.
A trauma nurse by profession, she was a quick learner when it came to professional baseball after becoming engaged to a Toronto Blue Jays infielder trying to establish himself in the Major Leagues.
“When we first met, she knew baseball, but she didn’t know the ins and outs of professional baseball,” Chris said. “I could get away with a lot of things early in my career. But within six months, she was like, 'Why did you swing at that slider down and away?'”
After one bad game, Chris came home to discover Erin had their bags packed. He immediately demanded an explanation.
“'Well, obviously after that game you are going to Triple-A,'” Erin said.
Erin knew and loved baseball but did not anticipate being a Little League manager. Oldest daughter Sophie -- a high school senior -- was an elite-level gymnast until injuries caught up with her. Their son, Mason, who turned 13 last week, has a blossoming creative side, encouraged by his parents, with a love for piano, writing and gourmet cooking.
Grady loves baseball, and his mom signed him up for Little League in the fall of 2016, when the Woodwards moved from the Tampa Bay area to the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. The move was necessitated by Chris taking a job as a coach with the Dodgers.
“We were heavily invested in the [Safety Harbor, Fla.] community there,” Erin said. “I made a commitment to the kids that I would really dig into the community [in Arizona] and do everything I could to make them feel comfortable.”
After signing Grady up for Little League, the Woodwards waited patiently for a call from the coach about when they would start practicing. It never came. Instead, Erin received an email from the league.
“There was no manager,” Erin said. “Nobody had stepped up to manage that team, and if somebody didn’t step up in the next 36 hours, the team was going to be dissolved.”
That was not good. Breaking up and dispersing the squad meant bigger teams and less playing time for everybody.
Erin approached her husband.
“'Chris, I think I’m going to take this team over,'” Erin said.
“'Are you kidding me?'” Chris responded.
“'It sounds completely ridiculous, but I think I'm going to do it,'” Erin told him. “'I know nothing about Little League, but I know about baseball and I know about kids. I think I can figure this thing out.'”
She brought some interesting ideas to the first practice and got some interesting looks.
“I had dads frowning at me, like, ‘What’s going on here?’” Erin said. “I looked around at the group and said, ‘I’m here because none of you decided to be here. So that’s why I am here. This is what you get. So, let’s all work together and figure it out and have a good season.’ They all shook my hand and said, ‘OK.’”
There was still some uncertainty which Woodward was the brains behind the operation. One was a nurse. The other had spent his adult life in professional baseball.
“It’s funny because anytime a new dad would come on, they’d say. ‘I know you are really running things behind the scenes,’” Chris said. “I’d say no. They would kind of look at me and say, ‘What? What do you mean no?’
“As they got to know Erin, it was like, ‘She really is the boss. She is definitely running the show.’”
Erin did so with one overriding philosophy: every child would get a chance to play and develop their full potential. Nobody was going to ride the bench or be hidden in right field.
“Our big thing was, let’s develop as many of these kids as possible,” Erin said. “Whatever kid you bring me, we are going to get the very best we can for that kid. I don’t care if you never played, I don’t care if you stink. If you have a work ethic and want to play and love baseball, we are going to give you everything we have in our arsenal.”
She is not afraid to ask for help. The Woodwards have shared more than a few late-night glasses of wine discussing the proper way to teach cutoffs and relays. And if the Texas Rangers manager is occupied, Erin is just as comfortable talking with pitching coach Julio Rangel or assistant hitting coach Callix Crabbe.
“I’d say to Crabby, ‘Give me everything you have on hitting,'” Erin said. “I found it fascinating, and I was really committed to these kids. I loved working with them.”
Chris described his wife as being a quick learner when it came to coaching baseball.
“What I’m most proud of with her, is she never derailed herself from her values,” he said. “We try to win every game, but she is not going to sacrifice anybody’s development to do that.”
Those late-night phone calls and/or chats at the dining room table can also involve going over a particular game, whether it was played in Chandler or Arlington. There have been times when two games need to be dissected.
“For me to be able to come home and talk about the game in a way I would talk about it with a staff member, it is pretty important,” Chris said. “It does help, she can definitely see the perspective I am looking at.”
Chris was hired by the Rangers on Nov. 3, 2018, but the family decided to wait until Sophie graduated from high school before moving to Texas.
When they do finally settle in Texas, Erin could face another tough decision. It’s not just a matter of coaching Grady. She invested much physical, mental and emotional energy into the 40-50 players who played for her in Arizona. Two families have even talked about moving to Texas so their sons can keep playing for Erin.
“I might coach when I am in Texas, we’ll have to see,” Erin said. “Grady always gives me a hard time when I coach him. But every time I say I’m not going to coach next year … he’s like hysterically crying. ‘No, you are the best coach I’ve ever had, you have to coach.’
“I’m thinking, 'I’m the only coach you ever had, but OK, sure.'”
Not every child gets the chance to play Little League with their mother as the manager.
“It started out wanting to do the best for my son, and I wanted to be invested in the community,” Erin said. “The benefits beyond that, I didn’t anticipate -- the incredible families we’ve met and the relationships we have. We just created this incredible community. I am going to miss them desperately. It is honestly the best thing I have ever done.” (TR Sullivn - MLB.com - May 9, 2020)
June 1994: The Blue Jays chose Chris in the 54th round, out of Northview High School in Covina, California.
October 2004: Chris chose free agency rather than be sent to Triple-A by the Blue Jays.
December 28, 2004: Woodward signed with the Mets.
December 20, 2006: Woodward signed with the Braves.
February 8, 2008: Woodward signed with the Yankees organization.
March 28, 2008: Chris signed with the Phillies organization.
May 1, 2008: The Phillies released Woodward.
June 2008: Chris signed with the Brewers organization.
November, 2008: Woodward signed with the Mariners organization.
August 7, 2009: The Red Sox claimed Woodward off waivers from the Mariners.
March 10, 2011: Chris signed with the Blue Jays organization.
January 6, 2010: Chris again signed with the Mariners.
August 20, 2012: After 18 years of playing pro baseball, including 12 in the big leagues, Chris announced he was calling it quits at the end of the 2012 season.
He said he hopes to move into coaching.
|Birth City:||Covina, CA|
|Draft:||Blue Jays #54 - 1994 - Out of high school (CA)|
- Chris is becoming a better hitter, making more contact. But he struggles to hit off-speed pitches.
- Woodward sprays line drives all over the park with power for extra-bases. Though he carries almost no fat on his 6-foot, 190-pound frame, he has pretty good power.
- Woodward is a smooth and steady shortstop with a quick release and a strong arm. But his fielding has been rather erratic.
He is also able to play 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base. He also plays all three outfield positions. And he learned how to take over behind the plate in an emergency.
Chris correctly describes himself as a baseball gym rat. He is also a student of the game who asks a lot of questions and works hard at improving.
In 2003, Woodward was the Jays starting shortstop, but he lost his starting job on July 27. He started just 18 of the Jays' final 56 games while Mike Bordick carried the brunt of the workload. Thirty-five shortstops played more than 60 games, but only four finished with a worse fielding percentage (.964). Chris made 17 errors in just 103 games. Only four AL shortstops made more, but they all played in 140+ games. (MLB.com-01/04)
The problem was Woodward's lack of concentration in the field. In his first full year as an every-day player, Woodward had trouble keeping that focus all the time. The result was an inconsistent shortstop. But Chris said, "Bordick helped me a lot and (third base coach) Brian Butterfield helped me a ton."
Woodward will have to prove he has the concentration and endurance to be a starting shortstop in the Majors.
POST-PLAYING CAREER POSITIONS
2013: Woodward joined the Mariners organization as Minor League Infield Coordinator.
2014: Chris became the Mariners Infield Coach.
2016: He moved to the Dodgers as Third Base Coach.
Nov 3, 2018: The Rangers named Dodgers third-base coach Chris Woodward as the 19th full-time manager in team history. Woodward, a former Major League infielder, has agreed to a three-year contract to replace Jeff Banister, who was let go with 10 games left in the 2018 season. Woodward also has an option for 2022. Woodward was one of at least 11 candidates who were interviewed for the position.
"We are excited to welcome Chris Woodward and his family to the Texas Rangers," Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels said in a statement. "Chris brings high energy, outstanding leadership and communication skills, a strong knowledge of the game and its evolving strategies, and great integrity—attributes that we feel are vital for our next manager. We believe these traits will resonate with our players, our staff, and our fans. He has also been a big part of a very successful stretch in Los Angeles."
Woodward had a 12-year Major League career as a utility infielder with the Blue Jays, Mets, Braves, Mariners and Red Sox from 1999-2007 and 2009-2011. He retired after spending 2012 at Triple-A Las Vegas. Woodward spent two years on the Mariners' coaching staff and the past three years as the Dodgers' third-base coach under manager Dave Roberts. (TR Sullivan - MLB.com Nov 3, 2018)
- June 30–July 26, 2001: Woodward went on the D.L. with a sore right groin. He was injured while rounding second base.
- June 30-July 11, 2002:Chris was on the D.L. with a strained right hamstring.
- May 12-June 8, 2004: Woodward was on the D.L. with a pulled left hamstring.
- October 23, 2006: Chris had a torn labrum in his right shoulder repaired.
- May 8-15, 2011: Woodward was on the D.L.
- April 20-May 3, 2012: Chris was on the D.L.