Ed Mayer

This article was written by Jim Sargent

Edwin David Mayer, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound left-hander from San Francisco who pitched for the Chicago Cubs during parts of the 1957 and 1958 seasons, won two and lost two of the 22 games he pitched in the National League. At first glance he may seem like an unlikely hero. But despite wearing glasses, toiling six years in the minors for three major-league organizations (the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Cubs), and wearing down his arm before reaching “The Show,” Mayer chased the baseball dream that was shared by thousands of boys in America during the 1950s.

Born in San Francisco on November 30, 1931, Eddie grew up in a close-knit family. His father was a good semipro third baseman. But Ned Mayer couldn’t take a shot at professional baseball because he had to support his family during the Great Depression. Inspired by his dad’s love for the game, the lanky left-handed son grew up playing baseball and basketball.

“When I was playing pro ball the first couple of years in the minors,” Mayer recollected in a 1999 interview, “in the wintertime we’d come back and play here on the sandlots. I played with guys like Jim Gentile, Don Mossi, Jim Baxes, and Gus Triandos. We’d all come here and play in the wintertime, because you can play here all year round.

“I went to Lowell High School in San Francisco, and the high-school ball was really, really good. Jerry Coleman, Mark Koenig, and several big leaguers played ball there. I was named All-City as a senior. In 1947, when I was 15 years old, Babe Ruth, who was hired by the sponsor, Ford-Mercury, was going around to American Legion all-star games to present the MVP trophy to the winner. Babe Ruth personally gave me this beautiful big trophy as the game’s most valuable player that year. I still have the trophy, and that’s one of my wonderful memories about baseball.”

After graduating from Lowell High in 1949, Mayer attended the University of California at Berkeley, and he played on the frosh team in 1950, then varsity baseball for two seasons. Signing a professional contract during the spring of his junior year, Eddie began his eight-year baseball odyssey.

Bright, friendly, and likeable, Mayer, with brown hair, brown eyes, and a charming personality, enjoyed his best college game on May 4, 1952. That sunny afternoon the junior twirled a one-hitter against Santa Clara, facing faced 28 batters, fanning seven, allowing one hit, and going 2-for-4 at the plate, lifting Cal to the memorable 1-0 victory.

“But I wasn’t too happy in my junior year with my major,” Eddie recalled. “I went to the school counselor and said, ‘I don’t really enjoy my major, business administration.’ So she gave me a battery of tests. It came out that I didn’t want to do anything. So she said, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’ I said, ‘I want to go play professional baseball. That’s my dream.’ She said, ‘Go play.’

“My father contacted a scout for the Boston Red Sox. Charlie Wallgren, a really nice guy, signed me. The Red Sox sent me to San Jose in the California League, which was Class C. They wanted to see what my arm was like and all, so I was pitching and batting and practicing with the team.”

The Red Sox liked his talent, skill, attitude, and work ethic. Thus, while most new players in the 1950s started in a Class D league, Mayer was assigned to Class C. Learning to pitch as a professional, he adapted to life on the road between the eight league cities, trips he enlivened with his wit, the songs he wrote and played on the piano, and the jokes and anecdotes he enjoyed. He was a good ballplayer and one of the boys.

Mayer pitched six games for San Jose, posting a 1-1 record and a 2.32 ERA in 31 innings. On July 24 San Jose optioned the hard-throwing southpaw to Yuma of the Southwest International League, another Class C circuit. In his first game, on August 4, Mayer topped Mexicali, 9-2, striking out nine, walking four, and giving up four hits, including two solo homers. Overall for Yuma, he pitched 20 innings in four games and compiled a 1-3 mark with a lofty 5.40 ERA. Needing more experience, Mayer was sent back to San Jose for 1953.

Pitching the full season at San Jose, the San Francisco prospect showed he had the right stuff. “In 1953 I had 17 wins and 8 losses for San Jose,” Mayer recalled in 1999. “The next year I went to spring training in Florida with the Red Sox farm kids. They sent me to Greensboro in the Class B Carolina League, and I had 17 wins and 8 losses there. So in my first two seasons, I had 34 wins and 16 losses. I was smokin’.”

First, however, Mayer married his college girlfriend Carol Carlson before starting the 1953 season with San Jose. His first wife is deceased; they had three children, Lynne (Mayer) Phillips, born in 1953; Laura (Mayer) Gardner, born in 1956; and David Mayer, born in 1957. Not unusual in those times, Eddie took his wife and family with him wherever he pitched during his baseball years. Along the way, the couple and their children made many friends.

As a pitcher, Mayer was improving, learning the tricks of his trade, and moving up the organization’s ladder, but slowly. Faced with talented pitchers at every level, his progress was slower than he expected: “Next year the Red Sox took me to spring training with Louisville, which was a Sox farm in the Triple-A American Association. They sent me to Montgomery, Alabama, in the Sally League, which was A-ball. I had 11 wins and 7 losses there.”

Because he was Jewish, Mayer was more aware of the discrimination and even danger faced by black players when traveling in the South. Once during the summer of 1955, the Montgomery team was riding to a game in Georgia. (He didn’t remember the city.) The bus stopped in a small town for gasoline, and, as was often the case, the players got off to get snacks and soft drinks. The first guy put a nickel in the Coca-Cola machine, opened his bottle, and walked away, and Earl Wilson, next in line and standing in front of Mayer, stepped up to the machine. At that point, Mayer remembered, the station attendant came out of the store with a gun, pointing it at Wilson, a black athlete from Ponchatoula, Louisiana, who later pitched 11 years in the majors, and said, “No n—– is going to buy a Coke in my machine.”

Mayer grabbed the forthright Wilson by the shoulders, turned him around, pushed him back to the bus, and said he would buy Earl a Coke. Reflecting on the incident in 2014, Eddie observed, “In those days, if the guy shot him and claimed Earl jumped him, the white attendant wouldn’t have been prosecuted down there in Georgia.”

The San Francisco native also faced discrimination because he was Jewish. He related a time in 1956 when he was pitching in Indianapolis for Omaha, Nebraska, a Cardinals Triple-A team: “Out there on the mound, I hear this guy yelling stuff about me because I was Jewish, and I didn’t pay any attention to him, but he was getting on my a– about it.”

The Cubs were not unusual in terms of the players’ backgrounds and beliefs: “One of my teammates on the Cubs, who I won’t name, didn’t like Jews at all,” Mayer commented. “He was overtly anti-Jewish, and you could tell. That wasn’t good.” At Cal-Berkeley, when Eddie pledged a fraternity, he was told a week and a half later that the fraternity was for Christians, not Jews, and while he was liked, he couldn’t stay. Unfazed, the freshman collected his belongings, walked up the street, and pledged one of university’s two Jewish fraternities.

One unusual incident occurred in Havana in the winter of 1957. One of Mayer’s friends, Alberto Baro, an outfielder and a teammate from Omaha, was a black Cuban. Eddie and his wife and children were living at Reparto Nautico, an upscale housing complex on the ocean in Havana. Mayer and Baro were not only friends, but their wives also were friends, and their kids played together while the Omaha team was on the road. However, Baro was black, and in Havana, he told Eddie that he wasn’t allowed to go to the exclusive Reparto Nautico.

“So I couldn’t have a friend of mine, who was a Cuban, come and visit me in Cuba,” Eddie remarked in 2014. “How’s that for discrimination? He was from Havana, but he wasn’t allowed to come because he was black. Nobody cares now, but in those days, people cared.”

On the diamond, Mayer’s best pitch was his sinking fastball. He threw a good curve and a change, and as long as his control was good, he was an effective, hard-throwing pitcher. His main asset, however, was being a durable left-hander, because major-league teams wanted two or three lefties for the 10- or 11-man rotation. Still, he pitched 208 innings in 1953, 222 in 1954, and 171 more in 1955, making nearly 600 innings of work in three full seasons. Like any pitcher, he needed rest between games as well as time away from baseball in the offseason, but like hurlers of his era, he always stepped up when called upon by his manager.

Despite his success, the Red Sox didn’t protect Mayer in the winter draft, and the St. Louis Cardinals acquired his rights on November 27, 1955.

“That spring they sent me to Rochester, their Triple-A team in the International League,” Eddie said in 1999. “Rochester later sent me to Omaha of the American Association, which was the other St. Louis Triple-A farm club.

“I did my best pitching at Omaha. The manager was Johnny Keane, who later managed the Yankees [as well as the Cardinals]. Johnny Keane was an excellent, excellent manager. He had a system where pitchers could get themselves in perfect shape. He had a list that showed the starter today and tomorrow, the long relievers today, and the short relievers today.

“Keane would go by that list. If you had days where you weren’t going to pitch, you could run yourself ragged. I had a fine catcher there, a veteran guy, Nels Burbrink. He had played in the Coast League, and he was such a good catcher that he made me a better pitcher.

“My record at Omaha was 6-5, but I pitched real well. In those days, Triple-A ball was very close to the big leagues in terms of the quality of the players. There were only 16 teams then, so that means there were only 200 players in each big league.”

Omaha had a good pitching staff. In addition to his winning record, Mayer posted the team’s lowest ERA, 2.80 in 18 games and a total of 90 innings. Of 16 pitchers used by Omaha in 1956, only four later failed to make the majors. The top four hurlers, all of whom later pitched in the big leagues, won in double digits: Frank Barnes, who had a 13-5 record; Gordon Jones, who was 13-8; Herb Moford, with a 12-9 ledger; and Tom Cheney at 10-5. No other Omaha pitcher won more than nine games, but Keane, who used his mound staff more effectively than most managers, piloted the team to third place in the American Association behind the Yankees’ Denver Bears and Cleveland’s Indianapolis Indians.

The competition to advance was keen, but Mayer had impressed the Cards’ front office. He recollected, “They liked how I pitched in Omaha, so they asked me if I wanted to pitch winter ball in Havana. I said, ‘Sure,’ because they paid a lot of money. I drove to Miami and put the car on the boat and went to Havana.” Asked in 2014 about the money and living conditions in Cuba, Mayer remembered that players were paid in cash, and they paid no US taxes. Bringing their two small daughters, Lynne and Laura, to Havana, Eddie and Carol paid rent, bought food, hired a maid, and went to a few clubs. After the season, when the Mayer family boarded the plane for Miami, Carol had $2,000 tucked into her bra.

In any event, Mayer hoped that pitching in winter ball would open the door to moving up to the major leagues. He hurled for Havana, a weak-hitting club in the four-team Cuba League. For example, pitching one night in the middle of November, Mayer produced a 14-inning scoreless tie. He pitched more than once a week, and by mid-January, The Sporting News reported the tall lefty had developed a sore arm. Arm problems, however, were an occupational hazard for all pitchers, and Mayer hung in there. He worked out for two weeks, and he finished the season with a 3-10 record on a team that scored too few runs. Proving his worth, he posted a solid 2.34 ERA in 123 innings. He won his third game in the last week of winter ball, traveled to the Cardinals’ early spring camp in St. Petersburg on February 14, 1957, and resumed pitching. Despite looking good in St. Pete, Mayer was sent back to Triple-A Omaha when the major-league season opened.

Regardless of going back to the American Association after having pitched with no real break in the US and Cuba in 1956 and early 1957, Mayer, an upbeat family man, had positive memories of those years: “I went to spring training with the Cardinals in 1957. They sent me to Omaha, and they traded me to the Chicago Cubs. I was the player to be named later in the Cardinals-Cubs trade. Jim King went to St. Louis, and Bobby Del Greco and I went to Chicago.” The Cubs sent him to Double-A Fort Worth.

One of 15 pitchers used by Fort Worth in 1957, Mayer, showing a bit less speed on his sinking fastball, worked 165 innings, won 8 games, lost 13, and produced an ERA of 4.04, but he still showed flashes of brilliance with sixth-place Fort Worth. Eddie recalled, “Charlie Grimm and Fred Fitzsimmons, who worked for the Cubs, saw me pitch there. That’s how I got to Chicago, at the end of the ’57 season.

“But the toll of all that pitching had an effect on my arm. My arm was getting pooped out. That’s the trouble. To work yourself up to the majors in those days, you had to climb the ladder, C-ball, B, A, Double-A, Triple-A. You didn’t just go jumping around like they do now. It took me all the way from 1952 to the end of 1957 to get a shot at the big leagues.”

John B. Holland, the Cubs’ president, indicated why Mayer wasn’t more impressive at Fort Worth to The Sporting News on September 11, 1957. “He pitched winter baseball before coming into the current season,” Holland said, “and that was too much for him. He’s tired, and he’s lost some of the zip that stamped him as such a bright prospect earlier.” The Cubs official added, “Mayer, in fact, is the reason why we won’t permit any of our young pitchers to play winter ball this year. We want them fit and ready and strong for our own spring training plans.”

Upon arriving in Chicago with his family, Mayer found a hotel, unpacked, and went to the Cubs front office. Being a rookie, he had to take what was offered. “When I got there, Chicago said to me, ‘Look, do you want to be a relief pitcher in the big leagues, or a starter in the minors?’ Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that I suddenly became a relief pitcher. What am I going to say, ‘No, send me down?’

“When I put on that Cub uniform and walked on the diamond at Wrigley Field, that was the biggest thrill of my life. It was a beautiful park, wonderful fans, great city. We played day games. They often make fun of the Cubs. But from my point of view, it was great being a Cub.”

Mayer, 25 when he was recalled, recounted what happened in his first big-league game, on September 15, 1957, the second game of a twin bill against the New York Giants at Wrigley Field. Making his only major-league start, Eddie pitched five innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, including two home runs. Willie Mays hit a one-out solo homer in the first inning, Ray Jablonski singled, but Mayer retired slugger Hank Sauer on a grounder and Daryl Spencer on a fly ball to center. Mayer worked through the second with no trouble, but Mays ripped an RBI double in the third. After pitching a scoreless fourth, Mayer surrendered a three-run homer to Sauer in the fifth, giving the Giants a 5-3 lead. The Cubs came back to win, 7-6, tying the game at 5-5 in the fifth and taking a 7-5 lead on a pinch two-run single by Eddie Haas in the seventh. Don Elston (6-7) pitched two innings for the win, and Turk Lown worked the last two frames for the save.

Mayer made two more relief appearances, allowing one hit and no runs in a total of 2? innings in 1957, giving him a 0-0 record but a lofty ERA of 5.87 in three games for Chicago.

Eddie explained in 1996, “In 1958 I went to spring training with the Cubs, and they said, ‘You’ve got to make the ballclub.’ I did. I pitched pretty good in spring training. The Cubs did really well at the start of the ’58 season. We were right at the top of the National League for the first month. We opened at St. Louis and in the second game, I came in and got the save.”

On Thursday, April 17, at Busch Stadium, the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 4-3. Chicago right-hander Glen Hobbie pitched 5? innings. Dave Hillman, another righty, was called from the bullpen with two outs and a runner at first in the bottom of the sixth to protect a 3-2 lead. After ending the inning on Hobie Landrith’s grounder to second base, Hillman pitched a scoreless seventh. The tall right-hander tired in the eighth, giving up a leadoff single to Stan Musial and a walk to Del Ennis. Ken Boyer bounced into a force, pitcher to third base, but Wally Moon singled to cut Chicago’s lead to 4-3. Mayer came from the pen with one out and runners on first and third, and, using his sinker, he got Hal Smith to hit into an inning-ending double play.

In the ninth inning, Cards reliever Billy Muffett set the Cubs down in order, and Mayer opened the bottom of the frame by fanning Billy Smith. Gene Green, batting for the pitcher, drew a walk, and Dick Schofield ran for him. Bearing down, Mayer ended the game on groundouts by Don Blasingame and Alvin Dark, saving the victory for Hobbie (1-0).

What were his best pitches? “I had a good sinking fastball,” Mayer said. “The ball would really move. My curve was OK, and I threw a good changeup. I threw mostly three-quarter, and my ‘out’ pitch was the sinking fastball. I also liked to hit, and I got a couple of hits with Chicago.”

On April 19, 1958, at Wrigley Field, Mayer, now 26, made his third relief appearance of the week, picking up his first major-league victory and Chicago’s fourth win in a row. Taylor Phillips hurled the first five innings against St. Louis, allowing two runs on five hits, and Dolan Nichols worked two scoreless innings. Turk Lown came in to start the eighth, but he gave a single to Ken Boyer and a walk to Wally Moon. Don Elston replaced Lown. After a 15-minute rain delay, Elston hit Irv Noren in the leg to load the bases, struck out pinch-hitter Hobie Landrith, and left for the showers. Called upon to stop the bases-loaded rally, Mayer fanned Joe Cunningham for the second out, walked Don Blasingame to force in a run that gave St. Louis a 3-1 lead, and put out the fire by retiring Alvin Dark on a fly ball.

In the bottom of the eighth, Chicago’s Moose Moryn smashed a three-run home run, and Dale Long soon followed with a two-run homer, giving Chicago a 6-3 lead. In the ninth, Mayer allowed an opposite field single to Stan Musial and a bunt single to Del Ennis. But the rookie, relying on his sinker, got Boyer to hit into a double play and retired Moon on a groundout.

Mayer was up and down in the bullpen, warming up almost daily in April and May, and manager Bob Scheffing continued to use the tall southpaw, notably against left-handed batters. Mayer pitched scoreless ball for 1? innings against the Cardinals on April 19, and he retired one batter, left-handed-batting Willie Kirkland, to end a game against the first-place San Francisco Giants on April 26. In his fifth relief stint, at Wrigley on April 29, Eddie lost his first game.

At that time the Cubs were 7-4 and tied for second place with the 1957 World Series champion Milwaukee Braves (7-4). The Giants (8-4) led both clubs by a half-game. Warren Spahn started that afternoon for the visiting Braves. Bob Scheffing started promising rookie Gene Fodge (1-0), who had turned in a complete-game 15-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers five days earlier. Fodge gave up a run-scoring double to Harry Hanebrink in the fourth inning, and in the fifth, Del Crandall reached base on an error, Spahn sacrificed the runner to second, and Red Schoendienst walked. Mayer came out of the pen, walked Andy Pafko, but ended the inning by retiring Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron on fly balls.

In the bottom of the fifth, Spahn allowed a run-scoring single by Chicago’s Johnny Goryl, tying the game at 1-1, and Mayer warmed up, hoping to hold the Braves. Instead, Joe Adcock led off the sixth with a double, Felix Mantilla ran for Adcock, and Hanebrink worked Mayer for a walk. Scheffing called for Dolan Nichols, but the rookie right-hander gave up Crandall’s RBI single and Spahn’s two-run double before the inning ended with the Braves ahead, 4-1. Scheffing used three more relievers, but the Braves scored four more runs to win, 8-4, and Mayer took the loss.

On May 8 Mayer pitched well against the Cincinnati Reds but was bailed out of a jam in the seventh inning by Don Elston. In the ninth, however, Elston and two relievers couldn’t stop the Reds, who came from behind to win, 10-8. Although Eddie and the Cubs didn’t win the game, he had pitched 12? innings and given up just one run in his last three outings, and that run scored when the Cubs were trailing the Braves, 6-0, in a game that Chicago won, 8-7, on May 2.

At that point fast-starting Chicago was second in the National League with a 13-8 mark, percentage points behind the Braves at 12-7, and Mayer ranked second in ERA with a 1.62 average in nine appearances.

Coming on in relief in the eighth inning of the second half of a twin bill against the Cardinals in St. Louis, Mayer suffered his toughest outing, losing 6-5 in the ninth on an error. With the Cubs ahead, 5-3, the southpaw gave up a leadoff single to Hal Smith. Going with his sinker, he induced Al Dark to ground into a double play and ended the inning on Dick Schofield’s liner to left field.

Chicago didn’t score in the top of the ninth, and in the last of the frame, Mayer began by walking Don Blasingame, but he retired Stan Musial on a grounder to third base. Slipping, Mayer hit Irv Noren with a pitch, and he walked Ken Boyer to load the bases. Bearing down, Eddie fanned Wally Moon for the second out. Scheffing, playing the percentages, called on Gene Fodge to face tight-handed-batting pinch-hitter Hobie Landrith, but the strategy backfired when Landrith singled to center. Two runs scored for a 5-5 tie, and Bobby Thomson, playing center, made a bad throw to the plate, allowing Boyer to score the game-winner and handing Mayer (1-2) the loss.

After five more appearances in which he handled well the pressure of being a major leaguer while yielding just one run (he pitched in 19 games in 1958), Mayer recorded his second and last win on May 30. The Cubs swept both ends of a Memorial Day doubleheader from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game two was a slugfest, won by the Cubs, 10-8, and Mayer earned the victory by retiring two batters in the top of the ninth. The loser was Sandy Koufax, who worked the bottom of the ninth for LA.

In this contest neither starter, Taylor Phillips for the Cubs and Don Newcombe for the Dodgers, lasted four innings, both teams used five pitchers, and the victory left Chicago (22-23) in fourth place, six games behind the league-leading Giants (27-16). Gene Fodge entered the game for the Cubs in the top of the ninth, gave up a single to Charley Neal, and retired Don Zimmer on a sacrifice bunt. Mayer relieved him, and, facing pinch-hitter Pee Wee Reese, he retired the Dodger star on a fly ball to short right. Mayer ended the inning by getting Randy Jackson to ground out to second base, preserving the 8-8 tie.

In the Cubs’ ninth, Koufax came on to replace Ed Roebuck, but Ernie Banks greeted the hard-throwing left-hander with an infield single. Facing Walt Moryn, Koufax made a mistake, and Moryn blasted his 11th homer of the season, lifting the Cubs to the victory.

“I call that game my 15 minutes of fame,” Eddie said, laughing, “because I beat Sandy Koufax.”

Mayer’s record was now 2-2, and he stood 11th in the NL with a 3.04 ERA. He made one more appearance, also at Wrigley, on June 5 against the Philadelphia Phillies, but his performance was less than memorable. Starter Glen Hobbie entered the seventh inning with a 6-2 lead, but he walked Dave Philley, and Richie Ashburn’s single to center moved the runner to second base. Hobbie was tiring, and Bob Scheffing brought in Mayer to face left-handed-hitting Solly Hemus, but Eddie, working with a sore arm, threw one too far inside, hitting Hemus and loading the bases. Harry Anderson promptly doubled to score three runs and cut Chicago’s lead to 6-5. Scheffing signaled for righty Don Elston, but Elston blew the save and took the loss when, after Rip Repulski grounded out, Stan Lopata hit a two-run homer that led to Philadelphia’s 7-6 victory.

When Chicago made final cuts for the 25-man roster in mid-June, Eddie was farmed out to Portland in the Pacific Coast League. For the remainder of 1958 he toiled for Portland, going 2-6 with a 5.43 ERA. The bottom line was that his once strong left arm was almost worn out.

“I pitched to the June cutdown date,” Eddie recalled in 1999. “By then my arm was starting to be not so good. The Cubs noticed it. Fortunately, they sent me to Portland, and that was the end of my big-league career. I kicked around for a year in Portland, played two games in Monterrey, Mexico, in the Mexican League in 1959, and I finished the ’59 season with Denver of the American Association. After that, I stopped because I couldn’t throw hard any more.

“I have no regrets. I pitched better than anybody thought I would. I had a really good time. I traveled all over and I got to see everything.”

After leaving baseball in 1959, Mayer came home to San Francisco and worked in business for six years. After completing his undergraduate degree at Cal-Berkeley in 1969, he began teaching in Pacifica, a town just south of San Francisco. Eddie enjoyed teaching at middle schools in Pacifica for 25 years.

A big-league athlete, a dedicated father, and a first-class teacher, the former Cub and his wife, Younga, as of 2014 enjoyed eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. For fun, Eddie was a “wordsmith.” Going back to the long road trips of his baseball years, he would enliven the train rides by writing songs, poems, and puzzles. Some of his crossword puzzles have been published in Games Magazine. On the piano he was a boogie-woogie specialist. The former Cub southpaw and his wife spent time traveling to a variety of foreign countries.

A few years ago Mayer renewed his interest in baseball after SABR member John Infanger invited him to join the Society for American Baseball Research. Eddie also joined several “old-time” baseball organizations, attending two or three reunions a year.

Mayer was proud to wear the Cub uniform. His license plate displayed the apparent oxymoron, Old Cub. His Chicago favorites included Ernie Banks, Lee Walls, Walt Moryn, Dale Long, Tony Taylor, Bobby Adams, Dave Hillman, Moe Drabowsky, Dick Drott, and Bob Rush.

“I’m happy about my career,” Mayer reflected, “even though it got cut short. I was a skinny kid in junior high, and nobody thought I would ever play pro ball, let alone make the big leagues. Now I’m retired, and it’s time for me to talk about baseball and touch all the bases.”

Finally, Eddie Mayer received one particularly prized honor. In October 2003 he was inducted into Lowell High School’s Sports Hall of Fame. Considering that athletes from Lowell included the likes of Yankee infielders Mark Koenig and Jerry Coleman, Eddie called his induction “quite an honor.” He loved teaching and he enjoyed many other interests, but Mayer treasured what he called his “15 minutes of fame” during baseball’s postwar Golden Age.

Mayer died on December 29, 2015, after a battle with cancer. Read his obituary at SABR.org, written by his friend Maxwell Kates.

Last revised: September 10, 2023 (zp)


In preparing this article, the author used copies of several Eddie Mayer scrapbook clippings from 1950s, including Mayer’s two victories as covered in Robert Cromie’s “Moryn, Long Hit Homers in 5 Run Eighth,” Chicago Sunday Tribune, April 20, 1958, and “Cubs Take Two Games 3-2, 10-8 /Three Homers,” Chicago Daily Sun-Times, May 31, 1958. There is useful material in the Mayer file at the Giamatti Library of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York. I interviewed Mayer by telephone several times, notably on April 19, 1999, and January 29, 2014. His statistics can be found on Baseball-reference: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mayered02.shtml. Among others, I have letters from Mayer dated May 21, 1999, October 10, 2003, December 28, 2003, and December 17, 2013. I also read various items in The Sporting News, including a story about winter ball by Leo J. Eberenz, “Smokers Slowed, Race Resembling Two Recent Ties,” January 30, 1957, p. 26, and another abut the Cubs by James Enright, “Holland Posts 5-Point List of Cubs’ Needs,” September 11, 1957, p. 20.

Full Name

Edwin David Mayer


November 30, 1931 at San Francisco, CA (US)


December 29, 2015 at San Francisco, CA (US)

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