December 10, 1936|
Red Jacket, West Virginia, U.S.
August 20, 2018 (aged 81)|
San Angelo, Texas, U.S.
Howard Rodney "Doc" Edwards (December 10, 1936 – August 20, 2018), was an American professional baseball catcher, manager, and coach, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Athletics, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies, over parts of five seasons, spanning nine years. Edwards also managed the Indians, for parts of three seasons.
Playing career[edit | edit source]
After a tour of duty in the US Navy (where he earned his nickname "Doc" as a Navy Corpsman), the 21-year-old signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians in 1958. He was signed by Indians' scout and future Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner. The Indians assigned him to their Class D affiliate in Nebraska where he batted .359 and helped lead the North Platte Indians to the Nebraska State League pennant. Over the next three seasons Edwards continued to produce at the plate as he progressed up the Indians farm system, batting .337, .279, and .331 for the Selma Cloverleafs, Burlington Indians, and the Salt Lake City Bees respectively, before earning his call up to the big league club in 1962.
After batting .270 in 63 games in an Indians uniform, Doc was traded to the Kansas City Athletics for Dick Howser during the 1963 season. He spent the full 1964 season with Kansas City, then was dealt to the New York Yankees shortly after start of the 1965 campaign, where he caught 284 innings in 43 games while filling in for injured twelve-time All Star catcher Elston Howard. Following the season, he was traded back to the Cleveland Indians.
With highly regarded Cuban catcher Joe Azcue seeing most of the playing time for the Tribe, and eight-time All Star and former World Series champion Del Crandall providing senior leadership, there wasn’t room for Edwards on the big league roster in 1966, and he was sent down to the Indians AAA farm club in Portland. After one season with the Pacific Coast League Beavers, he was shipped to the Houston Astros and assigned to their PCL club in Oklahoma City, where he spent the 1967 season before being released.
He was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies in November of that year, and after two years with their AAA affiliates in the PCL in San Diego (1968) and Eugene (1969), the Phillies named him as their bullpen coach for the 1970 season. Ironically, it was this coaching assignment, and not his four years as a AAA player, that would guide his path back to playing in the major leagues. In June 1970, a series of injuries left the Phillies short a catcher and they activated the then 33-year-old Edwards. Doc responded with two-hits and caught a Jim Bunning–Dick Selma two-hitter. In his unlikely return to the majors that season, Doc Edwards would catch 35 games and bat a respectable .269 for the Phillies in what would prove to be the final season of his playing career.
Coaching and managing career[edit | edit source]
In 1973, the 36-year-old Edwards was named Manager of the West Haven Yankees of the Class AA Eastern League, beginning a 40-year journey that would see him manage over 3,800 games in 33 seasons for 12 teams in 13 different cities; located in ten states and provinces across two countries; situated in ten different major, minor, and independent professional baseball leagues.
Following a two-year stint in West Haven, Edwards was hired by the Chicago Cubs where he managed their AA affiliate in Midland, TX in 1975, and AAA club in Wichita in 1976.
From there he skippered the Expos’ AA Quebec Metros (1977) and AAA Denver Bears (1978), before moving over to the Baltimore Orioles, where he was assigned to the International League’s Rochester Red Wings. He spent three years at the helm of the Red Wings, where he managed in one of the most memorable games in minor league lore. In April 1981, the Red Wings and Pawtucket Red Sox played in a 33-inning marathon, which remains as the longest game in professional baseball history.
In 1982, Edwards was presented with the opportunity to return to his home state, and to the big league club that gave him his first shot in professional baseball. The Cleveland Indians assigned him to the AAA International League Charleston Charlies, located in the West Virginia capital not far from his hometown of Red Jacket. He managed the Charlies in 1982 and 1983, before the franchise was uprooted and moved to Maine, where he continued with the team (rechristened as the Maine Guides), for two more years.
His allegiance to the Indians was finally rewarded in 1987, when he was hired to replace Pat Corrales as the manager of the big league club. Unfortunately for Edwards, their futility continued (they had only two winning seasons between 1968 and 1987). Edwards was fired with 19 games remaining in the 1989 season and replaced with scout John Hart.
Doc also managed the independent Atlantic City Surf to the championship during their inaugural season of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball in 1998.
Awards[edit | edit source]
On September 2, 2009, Edwards was awarded the 2009 United League Baseball Manager of the Year award.
Death[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Liebman, Ira. "Baseball Lifer Doc Edwards Passes". https://bill37mccurdy.com/2018/08/21/baseball-lifer-doc-edwards-passes/. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Deane McGowen (1970-06-10). "Roundup: Phils Activate A Coach Who Delivers". p. 54. https://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=FA0E17FA3955127B93C2A8178DD85F448785F9.
- Indians fire Manager Corrales and promote Edwards
- Former Tribe skipper Doc Edwards dies at 81
- Doc Edwards, manager of Indians in 1980s, dies at 81
[edit | edit source]
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
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