Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Final Card - Doc Edwards

Doc Edwards (#239) was a backup catcher for the Indians, Athletics, and Yankees in the mid-1960s.

He was signed by Cleveland in 1958 and played 4 full seasons in their farm system, before making his major-league debut with the Indians in April 1962. As the backup to Johnny Romano, Doc started 34 games as a rookie, mostly in August and September.

In May of the following season, he was traded to the Athletics for catcher Joe Azcue and shortstop Dick Howser (quite a haul for an unproven 2nd-year backup catcher!) Edwards alternated with Haywood Sullivan for a month, then shared the job with Charley Lau (acquired from the Orioles on July 1st) for the rest of the season. Kay-Cee used 4 backstops that season, with Edwards getting the most starts (58).

Doc was the #1 catcher in 1964, making 71 starts while sharing the load with Billy Bryan (who had opened the ’63 season as the starter before returning to the minors) and Lau.

1965 began with Edwards and Bryan splitting the catching duties again, but a month later Doc was traded to the Yankees for catcher John Blanchard and pitcher Rollie Sheldon. Edwards started 34 games behind Elston Howard over the next 2 months, but was sent down to the minors for the 2nd half of the season when the Yankees decided to go with young Jake Gibbs as the backup.

In January 1966, he was returned to the Indians in exchange for outfielder Lou Clinton, but spent the entire season in triple-A. One year later, the same thing: traded to the Astros with outfielder Jim Landis for outfielder Lee Maye, but played all of 1967 in the minors.

Edwards major-league career appeared to be over, as he moved on to the Phillies’ organization and played in triple-A for the ‘68 and ’69 seasons.

Prior to the 1970 season, the Phillies installed a new manager (Frank Lucchesi) and a new coaching staff, with Edwards as the bullpen coach. It appeared he would settle into the coaching ranks, until both Phillies’ catchers (Tim McCarver and Mike Ryan) broke their hands in the same inning of a game on May 2nd. The Phils called up their 2 AAA catchers Mike Compton and Del Bates the next day. (Neither played in the majors before or after 1970.)

After 1 month, Bates and his .133 batting average was sent back down, and Edwards was activated to help out. Doc got into 34 games (28 starts) over the next 3 months alternating with Ryan (who had returned in early July) and Compton. McCarver returned to active duty on 9/1, spelling the end Doc’s playing career.

Edwards coached for the Phillies for a few more seasons, then managed in the minors from 1973-85.  After managing the Indians from 1987-89, he again managed in the minors from 1993-2012.

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