Thursday, July 07, 2011

#35 Ed Charles

#35 Ed Charles
This card gives us a really close-up look at the Athletics' kelly green undershirt/gray vest/yellow insignia combination. It's easy to forget, given the explosion of gold and green polyester that the A's wore in the 1970s, but this early incarnation was a pretty sharp design.

Fun facts about Ed Charles:

-Ed was born in Daytona Beach, FL, and signed with the Braves as a teenager in 1952.

-His ascent to the major leagues was delayed by two years of military service and the presence of stalwart Milwaukee third baseman Eddie Mathews. After four consecutive seasons at AAA, he was finally freed up by a trade to the Athletics in December 1961.

-Installed as the regular third baseman in Kansas City in 1962, Ed hit .288 with 17 home runs and 74 RBI, was second on the club with a .454 slugging percentage, and stole a team-high 20 bases. He was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team.

-Charles was solid again in 1963, with a .267 average, 15 homers, 15 steals, and career highs of 28 doubles and 79 RBI. The following year he delivered 16 home runs and 63 RBI, but a backwards shift of the fences in K.C. sapped his power thereafter.

-He began writing poetry during his time in the minors, and was later dubbed "The Poet Laureate of Baseball".

-Ed was traded to the Mets early in the 1967 season, leaving the A's as the team's leader in games played (726) and total bases (1,065) during their short-lived Kansas City era.

-On May 20, 1968, he had a memorable game. His two solo home runs accounted for the only runs allowed by Pirates hurler Bob Veale. The second longball led off the bottom of the ninth inning and sealed a 2-1 walkoff win for the Mets. Overall, he was 3-for-3 with a walk on the day.

-Though he hit just .207 in 61 games for the Mets in his final season (1969), Charles did go out as a champion. He played in four of the five World Series games that year, singling and scoring the winning run off of Dave McNally in the ninth inning of Game Two.

-He retired with a .263 average, 86 home runs, and 421 RBI in 8 seasons.

-Among his later pursuits, Ed did some promotional work for Buddha Records (known for novelty releases and bubblegum pop), spent nine seasons as a scout and instructor with the Mets (notably signing reliever Neil Allen), and eventually settling into a life in New York's Washington Heights. There he has spent decades offering guidance to juvenile offenders while working with the Department of Juvenile Justice and Youth Options Unlimited.
#35 Ed Charles (back)

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