SABR

Ed Walsh

This article was written by Stanley Dziurgot.

He was referred to as Ed Walsh Jr., the son of Hall of Fame pitcher Big Ed Walsh. In reality he wasn’t really a junior because his middle name was Arthur and his father’s middle name was Augustine. He was also called Young Ed Walsh or Little Ed. Big Ed was listed at 6’1 and 193 pounds; Little Ed was also about 6’1 and weighed about 180 pounds.

Young Ed was born on February 11, 1905 in Meriden, Connecticut.   His father had pitched in Meriden in the Class D Connecticut League on his way to his Hall of Fame career with the Chicago White Sox. While playing in Meriden, Big Ed met his wife Rosemary Carney, who became Little Ed’s mother. She sold ice cream at the ball park in Meriden. The family settled in Meriden and lived there during Big Ed’s career in the major leagues and after his retirement. Another son, Bob, was born in 1907 and would also play professional baseball but never made the major leagues. Little Ed played baseball and football at Meriden High School. The school was on Liberty Street in a building that now houses the town’s Board of Education. After high school he went to St. John’s Prep School in Danvers, Massachusetts where he played baseball, football, and hockey. In the summer he pitched for two semipro teams, one in South Meriden and also with Insilco, the International Silver Company team. 

In 1925 Walsh enrolled at Notre Dame University at South Bend, Indiana. He made the football team as a punter under legendary coach Knute Rockne, but never played in a game because of a knee injury. Coach Rockne was also the school’s athletic director. He hired big Ed Walsh as a pitching coach on the school’s baseball team. Bob Walsh also went to Notre Dame and briefly played baseball before switching to track and field. Young Ed’s record as a pitcher on the baseball team was 18 wins and 6 losses. According to Bob Walsh, pitching coach Big Ed Walsh could be very demanding of the boys when they pitched at Notre Dame. The elder Walsh was a tough taskmaster. Bob told of losing a 1-0 game and having his father criticize him for throwing the wrong pitch, rather than offer words of encouragement. 

When his collegiate career was over in June 1928, Walsh signed with his father’s old team, the Chicago White Sox. Big Ed then joined him, as a coach on the White Sox. The 1928 White Sox finished with a record of 72-82. The manager at the beginning of the season was future Hall of Fame catcher Ray Schalk. He was relieved of his duties in July of that year and Lena Blackburne took over the team on July 6.  Ray Schalk and Lena Blackburne had been tied together in a trade in August of 1912. Both players came to the White Sox that year from Milwaukee of the American Association League.

Little Ed made his major-league debut on July 4, posting a record of 4-7 with a 4.96 ERA with 10 starts in 14 total appearances. The team finished in fifth place, 29 games behind the pennant-winning Yankees. Tommy Thomas won 117 games, while future Hall of Fame pitcher Ted Lyons won 15 and Red Faber won 13. The top hitter on the team was Willy Kamm who batted .308. The team in general was a punchless group with a .270 batting average with 24 home runs. 

Little Ed’s major league career ran between 1928-1932 and was book-ended by Yankee pennant winners in 1928 and 1932 and Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s pennant winners of 1929-1931. In 1929 Walsh pitched in 24 games with 20 starts, going 6 -11 with a 5.65 ERA. 

The 1930 season saw Walsh get into 37 games but with just four starts under new manager Donie Bush. He had a record of 1-4 with a 5.38 ERA. Even though Ted Lyons won 22, games the team finished seventh at 62-92. Tommy Thompson slumped to five wins for the season and Red Faber won eight games. The offense only hit 63 home runs with a batting average of .276. Even with the arrival of future Hall of Fame shortstop Luke Appling, the team finished 40 games behind first-place Philadelphia. 

In 1931 Walsh was sent down to Louisville of the American Association. The White Sox gave him a final shot in 1932 but he only pitched in four games with an 0-2 record and an 8.41 ERA.   

Lew Fonseca managed the 1932 season White Sox. The team finished in seventh place again with a record of 49-102, well behind the first-place Yankees. The leading pitchers on the teams were two 10-game winners, Ted Lyons and Sad Sam Jones.

The final game of Walsh’s major-league career came on September 25, 1932, the final game of the regular season, at Cleveland. It was the second game of a double header and the White Sox and Indians played to a 5-5 tie. He gave up all five runs on five hits in five innings pitched. His final major-league totals were 11 wins and 24 losses with a 5.57 ERA.   He started 38 of his 79 games, with 107 total strikeouts.   

According to those who knew him Young Ed could be found hanging out at the Meriden House Restaurant in South Meriden whenever he visited his parents. The building is now home to Four Corners Pizza. He married and moved to his wife Lorraine Terry’s hometown of San Antonio, Texas. It was there that he spent the summer of 1937 after being stricken with rheumatic fever. 

Before the 1933 season, Walsh he was bought by the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League where his claim to fame was stopping a young Joe DiMaggio’s minor league-record 61-game hitting streak. In 1911 his father had stopped Ty Cobb’s 40-game hitting streak and in 1912 Big Ed stopped Tris Speaker’s hitting streak at 30 games. Young Ed was still playing in the minors in 1937 when he came down with rheumatic fever while playing in the American Association League in Minneapolis. He was basically confined to his bed all summer. On Labor Day he returned home to his parents in Meriden. He had been carried off a train on a stretcher and was taken to his parents’ 738 Hanover Street home. He lapsed into a coma and never regained consciousness the last week of his life. He died on October 31, 1937. The official cause of death was listed as acute heart ailment induced by chronic rheumatism. 

Walsh is buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery on Gypsy Lane in Meriden. Jack Barry is also buried in the same cemetery. Little Ed was survived by his widow, his parents, and his brother Bob. His mother died in May 1949, his father died in Florida in 1959 and his brother Bob died in 1984. Neither son had children. 

Sources

Allen Weathers Meriden Historical Society

Leon Bartholomu

Fred Buccheri

Smiles, Jack.  Ed Walsh; The Life and Times of a Spitballing Hall of Famer (Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co., 2007)

Meriden Morning Record November 2, 1937

Retrosheet.com

Baseballreference.com

Hartford Courant, March 28, 2008

Meriden Record Journal, March 28, 2008


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