Edward Morgan Lewis, Educator

This article was written by L. Robert Davids

This article was published in 1980 Baseball Research Journal

     The entry of former players into the education field was primarily through the coaching and physical education channels. This was also somewhat true initially of Edward Morgan Lewis, but he quickly broadened his outlook and experience. In making that choice he sacrificed a promising career as a baseball pitcher.

     Ted Lewis was born in Wales in 1872. He came to this country with his family in 1881 and settled in Utica, N.Y. He attended Williams College where he received his A.B. degree in 1896 and where he became an outstanding pitcher on the college team. The Boston National League club signed him in 1896 and he had some good seasons with them. He won 21 games in 1897 and was 26 and 8 in 1898. The Beaneaters won the NL pennant both years.

     Lewis was a rarity in baseball of those days. He not only had a college degree but had deep religious convictions; hence the nickname “Parson.” He had exceptional talent as a teacher and, after completing 31 of 34 starts with the Red Sox in 1901, he concluded his baseball career. He had won 94 games in little more than five seasons, one of those wins being a relief effort on June 22, 1898 where he pitched 13-2/3 innings and did not walk a batter.

     The Pitching Professor had corollary duty as baseball coach at Harvard 1897-1901 and took courses there in the off-season. He received his M.A. degree at Williams in 1899 and taught full time at Columbia 1901-03. He was Assistant Professor of Public Speaking at Williams, 1903-11, but also taught at the Yale Divinity School and Harvard Summer School in this period.

     He gained considerable tenure at Massachusetts State College, 1911-27, first as Professor of English, then Dean of the Department of Languages and Literature, and finally as College President 1926-27. In 1927 he was offered the job of President of the University of New Hampshire and served in that post for the next nine years, until his death in Durham on May 24, 1936. He was 63. At his memorial service, Robert Frost read poetry and Governor Styles Bridges and former Boston teammate Fred Tenney served as honorary pall bearers.

     Professor Lewis was a progressive administrator well respected in the educational community. He was the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates. He established good relations with his students, a task made easier because he was an excellent speaker and a man of personal charm. His popularity caused him to run for Congress as a Democrat from Massachusetts in both 1910 and 1914. He lost on both occasions – a couple of small but unseemly blots on a distinguished career.