Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eddie Joost, 94, last manager of the Philadelphia Athletics dies

Two-time All-Star shortstop and the last manager of the Philadelphia Athletics franchise Eddie Joost passed away Tuesday in Fair Oaks, CA. He was 94.

Joost began his major league career in 1936 with the Cincinnati Reds after starting only three seasons prior with the San Francisco Missions of the Pacific Coast League. Quickly disregarded by manager Charlie Dressen, who said Joost, "will never be a major league player," he became the starting second baseman for the Reds when they won the World Series in 1940.

Eddie Joost with the author @ Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society 8/2008
After his World Series victory, his career was derailed as he committed 45 errors at shortstop for the next two consecutive seasons. Joost was jettisoned to the Boston Braves in 1943 where he hit .185 in 496 at-bats. He skipped the 1944 season to work for a meat packer that was an essential service to the war efforts. Returning to Boston in 1945 rested and refreshed, Joost was off to a strong start when his wrist was broken by Billy Jurges sliding into second base.

The Braves suspended Joost after they claimed he deserted the club once they let him go home following his injury. With his career stalled on the suspended list, Joost thought his days were over. Rescued by the Rochester Red Wings of the AAA International League, Joost flourished. In 1946, he had career highs in home runs and RBIs. This tremendous showing piqued the interest of the legendary Connie Mack.

The 84-year-old Mack was looking for a shortstop after a dismal finish to the 1946 season. When Mack contacted Joost, he reassured the veteran that he wasn't concerned with his rocky past.

"You can play. That's all I care about," Mack said.

Nineteen-forty-seven began a eight-year stay with the Athletics where Joost earned MVP considerations five times along with two All-Star selections. Between 1947 and 1952, Joost slugged 109 home runs, while walking over 100 times in each of the six seasons.

At the end of the 1953 season with Joost now 37 and the Athletics in financial disarray, he was offered the position of player-manager in a cost-cutting move. Once again, Joost was unsure of his abilities. New to managing, Joost expressed his concerns to Mr. Mack. Mack reassured his faith in Joost.

"You've been a great player for me," Mack said. "I know you'll do well."

The Athletics, who had only one starter that hit over .300 that season, finished in last place in the American League with 103 losses. When the Athletics moved to Kansas City following the 1954 season, Joost was not asked to go west with the team.

Seeking a large bonus to continue his career, Joost signed with the Boston Red Sox for $10,000 in 1955. Joost suffered a broken hand early in the season and never effectively recovered to regain his old form. He briefly managed in the Red Sox farm system the following season with the San Francisco Seals, but quit the team quickly when he was turned off by the individualistic nature of their young bonus players.

"They were all individual players, all great, but we kept losing. I quit, and walked away from baseball," Joost said.

After his baseball career had ended, Joost moved to Hawaii, where he worked for Wilson Sporting Goods before retiring. I had the opportunity to meet Joost in 2008 (pictured above) at the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society Museum. Joost was a frequent supporter of the society and at the time was extremely lucid and pleasant. I was impressed by the vigor and firm handshake he displayed at the age of 92 that represented a man much younger than his years. It was this youthful spirit he exuded that kept him going much longer when many others would have perished.

More Info -
Big-leaguer Eddie Joost dies at 94 -
Eddie Joost recalls how Connie Mack revived his big league career - Baseball Digest
Baseball History Podcast: Eddie Joost - Baseball History Podcast

1 comment:

  1. How sad. Our last living link to the 1940 Cincinnati Reds is now gone.