December 10 – Happy Birthday Doc Edwards
Nineteen-sixty-five was the year the Yankee dynasty crumbled. For over four decades before that season, ever since Babe Ruth first put on pinstripes, every Yankee team that took the field each opening day had a very good shot at winning the pennant. That 1965 team did not. The team’s front office thought they did but the truth was that the players New York most depended on to have good years had all gotten old at the same time. Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford and Elston Howard were all suddenly over the hill and would never enjoy season performances that came close to their career averages.
Howard, who turned 36 during the 1965 season, was breaking down physically. His throwing elbow had bone chips floating around it and Ellie experienced terrific pain whenever he tried to throw a ball hard. The problem was that Howard’s longtime backup with New York, Johnny Blanchard, could not throw very well with a perfectly healthy elbow so Yankee GM Ralph Houk and Manager Johnny Keane made a deal with Kansas City. They sent Blanchard and reliever Rollie Sheldon to the A’s in return for today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Doc Edwards. When Blanchard found out about the deal he began crying like a baby in the Yankee locker room. His concerned teammates tried to cheer him up by telling him he would finally be a starting catcher but the inconsolable Blanchard preferred sitting on the Yankee bench over playing regularly anywhere else.
Edwards could throw but he was a horrible hitter. He appeared in 45 games that year and got just 19 hits in 100 at bats for a .190 average. Perhaps if the rest of the Yankee lineup had been hitting decently, Edwards offensive shortcomings would not have been so glaring. New York let him go after that one season and the six year big league veteran spent the next five seasons down in the minors trying to earn another shot with the big show. That happened in 1970, when Tim McCarver got hurt and the Phillies needed a backup catcher on their roster. Edwards then became a Minor League Manager, and eventually skippered the Cleveland Indians for three lackluster seasons in the mid eighties. He was born in Red Jacket, WV in 1936.
Edwards shares his December 10th birthday with this outfielder who played for the Yankees three different times and this former Yankee reliever.