Tuesday, October 26, 2010

#418 Johnny Edwards

#418 Johnny Edwards
Judging from the small crowd in the tiny bleachers behind Johnny Edwards, I assume this is a spring training photo. Either that, or Crosley Field was a lot more intimate than I realized.

Fun facts about Johnny Edwards:

-A native of Columbus, OH, Johnny starred at Ohio State University before signing with the Reds in 1959.

-He debuted with the Reds in June 1961 and served as their backup catcher for the remainder of the season. He struggled offensively (.186), but started three games in the World Series and contributed 4 hits in 11 at-bats, including a pair of RBI in Cincy's Game Two win.

-Edwards took over as Cincinnati's starting backstop in his sophomore season, and by 1963 he was recognized with an All-Star spot and a Gold Glove. That year he batted .259 with 11 home runs and a career-high 67 RBI. Behind the plate, he paced the National League in fielding percentage, range factor, and total putouts, and gunned down 46% of would-be base stealers.

-A second straight All-Star and Gold Glove campaign followed, as Johnny boosted his average to .281 in 1964.

-In 1965, he had a power surge, belting 17 homers and making the All-Star team for the third and final time. Five of his home runs came against future Hall of Famers.

-He caught two no-hitters in his career: Jim Maloney's 10-inning no-no on August 19, 1965 and Ray Washburn's gem on September 18, 1968.

-Johnny's batting average dipped below .200 in 1966 as he lost playing time to Don Pavletich. He continued to struggle the next year, and with Johnny Bench ready to take the reins in 1968 the veteran was traded to the Cardinals. He backed up Tim McCarver as St. Louis captured the N.L. pennant.

-After one season with the Cards, he was dealt to Houston, where he regained his status as an everyday player. His offense never rose to the level of his early years (.237 for his Astros tenure), he did remain an elite defender. He topped the N.L. in fielding percentage from 1969-1971, and threw out at least 42% of would-be base stealers in each of those three years.

-Edwards remained with Houston through the 1974 season before retiring. In 14 seasons he batted .242 with 81 home runs and 524 RBI.

-During his playing career, he found work in the offseason as an engineer in research and development in nuclear fuel elements for General Electric. As Baseball Digest's Bill Bryson noted, it certainly bucks the notion of "tools of ignorance"!

#418 Johnny Edwards (back)


  1. A nuclear engineer? I'll bet he didn't have a hard time making a living after his playing career. Smart dude!

  2. Matt - Yep, needless to say, Edwards was the rare ballplayer (esp. in those days) that completed his degree before signing.

  3. I got to meet and talk with Johnny Edwards a few times through a friend. He was very cordial, especially since he really didn't know me other than as a college age baseball fan.

    Ironically Ray Washburn, the guy whose no-no he caught, told my younger brothers to 'Go to hell' when they asked him to sign their programs before a Sunday game in the Dome circa 1968. He was busy doing his running on the warning track, and my brothers could certainly be annoying, but it was pretty uncalled for.

  4. Bob - Glad to hear the first part of your story. As for Ray Washburn, maybe he really hated running! ;)

  5. Maybe Ray Washburn was Randy Moss' idol growing up.

  6. Marc - My money is on Dock Ellis or Dave Kingman.