This article was written by James Lincoln Ray
World War II interrupted Ed Chandler’s dream of pitching in the Major Leagues; but the time he spent in the service proved to be a blessing. It was there, with the guidance of two Major League pitchers, Chandler truly learned to pitch. The scouts were interested, but it was unlikely they would sign a twenty-nine-year-old prospect. Certainly, there was nothing Chandler could do about his age, or was there?
Edward Oliver Chandler was born in Pinson, Alabama, a small town twenty miles northeast of Birmingham. Although baseball reference works have usually listed Chandler’s birth date as February 17, 1922, U.S. Census records, army enlistment records, and family members indicate he was actually born on January 31, 1917. Chandler’s parents were William M. and Susie Caroline Chandler. The Chandlers had fourteen children; Edward was the seventh of nine sons. Nine boys is the perfect number for a baseball team, allowing the Chandler brothers to field teams in amateur and semipro leagues around the Birmingham area.
By 1941 Eddie, as he was known, was working as a traveling salesman. While on a trip to southern Idaho, he tried out for the Class C affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The tryout was successful and on August 26, he signed to play for the Pocatello Cardinals of the Pioneer League. The six-feet-two, 190-pound right-hander made only four appearances for the Cardinals. He posted a record of 1-1 and was advised to give up baseball. Undeterred, Chandler attended Idaho Southern University (now Idaho State) and played on the Bengals baseball team. While his overall record for ISU is not known, it is known that in one game in 1944, Chandler struck out nineteen batters through nine innings and twenty-three overall when the game was declared a tie after twelve innings.
World War II interrupted many careers and Chandler’s was no exception. Eddie enlisted on September 19, 1944 and served in the Pacific with the Army Air Corps for the remainder of the war. About this time, Chandler married the former Ferne Streveler, an Iowa native. (It was the second marriage for Eddie.) The newly married Chandlers were living in Los Angeles, where Ferne Chandler gave birth to Edward Oliver Chandler, Jr. on April 18, 1945. Later the couple had another son and a daughter.
Major League pitchers Red Ruffing and Tex Hughson had given Chandler pitching tips while the three were in the service. Eddie benefitted from their advice and pitched so well in service games in Guam, he attracted the attention of big-league scouts. Tom Downey of the Dodgers eventually signed Chandler and told him to report to Brooklyn’s 1946 spring training camp in Daytona Beach. (Both the Dodgers and the press thought Chandler’s age was twenty-four, not twenty-nine.) On April 2 Chandler pitched for the “regulars” against the Dodgers’ Class AAA affiliate, the Montreal Royals, allowing only one run through seven innings.
Chandler traveled north with the Dodgers in 1946, but was optioned to the Fort Worth Cats of the Class AA Texas League, where he had a remarkable season. He won a team-high twenty games, lost only six, posted a 2.00 ERA while striking out a career-high 174 batters, and was selected to the Texas League All-Star team. Led by Chandler’s performance, the Cats won the Texas League regular season title, but lost in the playoffs to the Dallas Rebels.
Eddie’s stellar 1946 season attracted the attention of the Dodgers management, and in 1947 he was again invited to spring training. The team used him as both a starter and a reliever that spring, and he performed admirably in both roles. Roscoe McGowen, sportswriter for the New York Times predicted that Chandler’s poise and determination would guarantee him a spot on the roster. He turned out to be right. When the Dodgers broke spring training, Chandler was on the team.
Ed Chandler made his Major League debut on April 18, 1947. The Dodgers were playing the New York Giants, in the Giants’ home opener at the Polo Grounds. After the Dodgers’ starter, Vic Lombardi, was roughed up, Chandler entered the game in the fourth inning, his team down, 4–2. He held the Giants scoreless for two innings before giving up back-to-back home runs to Bobby Thomson and Willard Marshall. Two weeks later, on May 1, Chandler had a strong relief performance against the Cubs, which the New York Times called “a brilliant rescue job.”1
On May 11 Chandler made his only start for the Dodgers, taking the loss in the second game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. Over the next month Chandler made six appearances in relief, with varying degrees of success. On June 17 the team optioned him back to Fort Worth, subject to a twenty-four-hour recall. Chandler remained with Fort Worth for the rest of the season as a starting pitcher. He compiled a 6-5 record with an impressive 2.78 ERA.
Apparently encouraged by Chandler’s late-season success at Fort Worth, the Dodgers brought him back to spring training in 1948. But he failed to make the team, and again found himself headed to Fort Worth. The Cats finished first in the Texas League and won the league championship, although Chandler was just 12-13. Chandler was the Game One starter for Fort Worth in the Dixie Series against the Southern Association champions, the Birmingham Barons. Eddie pitched a five-hitter in winning, 5–1, before a raucous crowd at Birmingham’s historic Rickwood Field. It was a very satisfying homecoming for a native son.
In February 1949 Chandler was recalled to the Dodgers, but he was returned to Fort Worth at the end of April without appearing in a regular-season game. For the Cats in 1949, Eddie was 13-9, and the team won its third Texas League regular title in four years. In those three seasons, Chandler was 45-31 with a 2.80 ERA and was selected to the Texas League All-Star team twice.
In October 1949 the Dodgers moved Chandler to the St. Paul Saints, their Class AAA affiliate in the American Association. Chandler posted a 9-7 record for the 1950 Saints, but his earned run average climbed nearly a full point, which may have been a factor in the organization’s decision to leave him unprotected in the off-season minor league draft. On November 16, 1950, he was selected by the Chicago Cubs.
Eddie went to spring training with the Cubs in 1951 and made the opening-day roster. He did not get into a game with the Cubs, however, and was released to the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago’s affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. Chandler worked mostly in relief during the ’51 season, winning five games against seven losses, while pitching only ninety innings, his lowest full season total since Pocatello in 1941. His earned run average ballooned to 5.50. In 1952 Chandler returned to the starting rotation and pitched much more effectively. In thity-six starts, he was 16-14 with a 3.51 ERA for the sixth place Angels.
Chandler dropped to 7-12 in 1953, and then, early in the 1954 season, he was dealt to league rival San Francisco. He rebounded nicely and surpassed his ’53 win total by mid-July. Overall, Chandler was 12-11 with a 3.34 ERA for the Angels and Seals. After appearing in only seven games in 1955, the Seals released him, ending his professional baseball career.
After baseball, Chandler remained in the Los Angeles area and pursued two passions, the stock market and golf. By 1960 he had created his own investment firm, Chandler and Company. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season, Chandler rekindled many of his old friendships with people he knew throughout their organization. He would often pitch batting practice for the Dodgers at the Coliseum, and when he started his own investment firm he was quick to sign Dodgers as clients. In 1966 Chandler started his own mutual fund and was also involved in real estate.
Chandler pursued golf with the same vigor he pursued stocks. The sports pages in Los Angeles in the late 1950s, the 1960s, and even into the 1970s are peppered with references to Eddie Chandler winning or placing in amateur golf tournaments. He played in many pro-am events as well and seems to have been always available to play in golf tournaments involving current and former ball players. As Chandler approached age sixty, the tournament success, quite naturally, dwindled.
Ferne Chandler died in Los Angeles in 1990. At some point, possibly after his wife died, Chandler moved to Las Vegas. He died there on July 6, 2003, at the age of eighty-six. While Eddie Chandler had little success in the major leagues, just fifteen games with no victories, one loss, and a 6.37 ERA, he did have a good minor league career. He played on one championship team and on three others that won regular season titles. He won 103 games against eighty-six losses, and finished with a lifetime ERA of 3.50.
1. “10 Cubs Passes Help Brooks Win by 5-2,” New York Times, May 2, 1947.
Chicago Daily Tribune, November 17, 1950.
Dallas Morning News, May 26, 1946.
Dallas Morning News, April 29, 1949.
Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1956.
Los Angeles Times, October 18, 1956.
Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1958.
Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1961.
New York Times, March 8, 1946.
Pittsburgh Courier, April 6, 1946.
Washington Post, March 5, 1946.
Washington Post, April 3, 1946.
“Angels Grab Pair to Win Oak Series,” Los Angeles Times, June 16, 1952.
“Brooks Defeated by Cincinnati, 9-6,” New York Times, June 10, 1947.
“Cards Turn Back Brooks in 10th, 5-4.” New York Times, June 3, 1947.
“Dodgers Acquire 8 Farm Club Aces,” New York Times, October 16, 1949.
“Dodgers Lose Pair to Cards, 5-3 and 12-2,” New York Times, June 15, 1947.
“Durocher Off List as 32 Dodgers Draw Full World Series Shares,” New York Times, October 16, 1947.
“Phils Set Back Brooks, 7-3 and 5-4, Before 40,952 Fans at Shibe Park, New York Times, May 12, 1947.
“Rackley Protests Brooklyn Release,” New York Times, June 18, 1947.
“Reese Homer Wins For Brooklyn, 7-6,” New York Times, May 7, 1947.
“Yanks bow in Exhibition in Caracas, 4-3; 2 Rivals Jailed When They Refuse to Pitch,” New York Times, March 2, 1947.
“9,000 See Bombers Beat Brooklyn, 4-0.” New York Times, March 7, 1947
“10 Cubs Passes Help Brooks Win by 5-2.” New York Times, May 2, 1947.
“3 Rookie Pitchers Sign With Dodgers.” New York Times, February 16, 1948
Phone interview by author with Johnny Chandler, August 31, 2009
Edward Chandler’s clipping file from the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center at the Baseball Hall of Fame.