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Parkrose produces pro


Eddie pitching in a summer training league in Bellingham, Wash., after his freshman year at OSU.
Photo submitted by the Kunz family
Eddie Kunz is a Parkrose boy. Now he is also a member of the New York Mets major league baseball team. How did that happen? At 6’5” and 250 pounds, Kunz throws a baseball in excess of 90 miles an hour. That explains a lot, but it’s not the whole story.

Eddie’s parents, Ray Kunz and Sue Henderson, met on a blind date. Ray was a graduate of Hillsboro High School. Sue’s roots are in Parkrose. She was a member of the last graduating class from St. Rita Elementary School and attended Marycrest High School for two years before finishing at St. Mary’s of the Valley in Beaverton when Marycrest closed its doors.

Ray and Sue married in 1978, settled in Hillsboro and started a family. Raymond Jr., now 28 and the father of 7-year-old Bradley, drives truck for Helzer Trucking. Keri, 26, is a dispatcher for Allied Security. Eddie, 21, is the youngest.

Early on, the family moved to Parkrose Heights. Their home was the neighborhood “Kool-Aid house” for 22 years. Ray Sr. recalls that all the kids knew where the cookie jar was, and Keri remembers calls to Mama Kunz for more Tang or Sunny D. While Sue is happy her children are all grown, she says she does miss the hubbub that swirled around three active kids and their friends. Ray and Sue recently downsized to a townhome in Glendoveer, but their door is still always open to the children and their friends.

All three Kunz children played sports. Raymond wrestled and played basketball, football and baseball. Keri played softball and basketball. Eddie was involved in soccer, football, basketball, wrestling and baseball, but claims baseball was always his favorite. He said he opted to play the other sports to keep in shape for baseball. His aunt Linda Willits said, “Eddie had no chance. This family lives and breathes baseball.”

Ray and Sue’s involvement in Parkrose youth sports is legend, and they have been particularly active in Parkrose Little League. All the kids played on PLL teams, and Ray coached and umpired. Sue got involved in fund-raising, became equipment manager, then served as league president for five years.

So while it is very likely this immersion in the sport had something to do with Eddie’s later successes, it was apparent early on that he had talent. Ray remembered a practice session with a team of 12-year-olds. As usual, 3-year-old Eddie was along to be batboy. As his dad was trying in vain to teach his charges the art of catching a fly ball, Eddie was hanging out in right field. In frustration, Ray exclaimed, “I’ve got a 3-year-old who can catch the ball!” To prove his point, he hit one out to his young son. “Eddie turned around and snagged the ball. I was so happy I didn’t hit him. His mom would have killed me,” he recalled.

Eddie is quick to spread the credit around, remembering his coaches Glen Kugel, Vennie Henderson, Ed Humburg, and David and Jim House. He has teachers and counselors from kindergarten up who have supported and encouraged him: Barbara Young, Jeanne Pinkerton, Tom Klansnic, Tonya Garcia, Tammy Stamp, Sharon Garr, Cheryl Barrett (now Brown), Lynn Harr, Terry Franceschi. Also on the list is Pat Stapleton who worked the cafeteria at Sacramento Elementary. He has a large network of extended family including the Kunzes, the Henderson’s, and Greg and Susie Anderson and their clan.

Ray and Sue said they never had to push Eddie and that he has always been motivated to succeed. As a youngster, Eddie was a stocky kid. When he was a high school sophomore, he decided to make some radical changes in how he was living his life.

“I was tired of being the fat kid,” he recalled. “I wanted to grow up a little bit. I started running more, started lifting weights. I got with our weight training coach. He put me on a program. I started losing weight. When I got to the point that I didn’t need to lose anymore, I started building muscle.”

Sue remembers that Eddie cut out all sweets and began eating a more healthy diet as well.

Eddie was a three-sport athlete in high school. He was the punter on the football team and played basketball. He was a member of the baseball team that won a conference co-championship for the first time in 14 years when he was a senior.

As a member of that Parkrose championship team, it seems Eddie has been destined to be a part of some historic events in the sport he loves. He said they started his senior season with 10 consecutive wins. “No one thought we would be good at all.”

Eddie began to be noticed by college and pro scouts. He was invited to participate in special events and tournaments geared to showcase players’ talents. Colleges with rich baseball tradition like Louisiana State, Arizona State, the University of Arizona, and the University of Miami recruited him. Pro scouts were on his trail. Eddie knew he wanted to go to college, but he believed he would start out at a community college.

Then Pat Casey, the Oregon State baseball coach, paid a visit to the Kunz home. Eddie remembers Casey asking if he wanted to win a Pac-10 title. He thought that sounded good, so he toured the campus and the facilities that he was promised would be upgraded. He made his decision, announced his choice to his family in the fall of 2003, and was awarded a full-ride, four-year scholarship to OSU.

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