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Sports Then and Now

Former MLB Catcher Ed Herrmann Passes Away Following Cancer Battle

Posted on December 22, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Ed Herrmann played 11 seasons in the majors and was an All-Star in 1974.

Ed Herrmann played 11 seasons in the majors and was an All-Star in 1974.

Very sad to learn this morning that former Major League Baseball catcher Ed Herrmann has passed away at the age of 67 following a battle with cancer.

Though I never personally met Ed, I remember getting his baseball cards and reading about him and the Chicago White Sox pitching staff in Sports Illustrated in the mid-1970s.

Then, through the wonderful modern world of social media, we became “Facebook Friends” a few years ago soon after I started Sports Then and Now.

There isn’t a lot that is cooler than getting a glimpse into the world of our sports stars and through Facebook I learned that 30+ years after the end of his baseball career, Ed “Hoggy” Herrmann loved riding motorcycles and enjoying life.

Since he was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, what I have learned through Facebook posts first from Ed and then over the last few months primarily from his family is the story of a fighter who channeled the same determination that helped make him a baseball All-Star into his battle with cancer.

The dignity and love shown in the posts from Ed’s family reporting his condition and especially the many visits from family and friends (including Chopper the Biker Dog) have been inspirational and heartening.

While I, and many others who follow sports, knew Ed primarily as a tough catcher who handled knuckleball pitchers and collisions at home plate with grit and guile, it is clear that behind his persona as a baseball player and later as a biker was a loving man who was deeply loved by his friends and family.

Though his body has lost the battle with cancer, it is without question that Ed’s spirit has won. I would especially like to offer our thoughts and prayers to Ed’s wife Barbara and the rest of his friends and family.

In July, we recognized Ed as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month. Below is the article highlighting the impressive baseball career of Ed Herrmann. He is now a member of God’s All-Star team.

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month for July was an American League All-Star in 1974 and a solid catcher during his 11 year Major League career.

Herrmann used the over-sized catcher's mit shown on this card to catch Chicago White Sox knuckleballer Wilbur Wood.

Herrmann used the over-sized catcher’s glove shown on this card to catch Chicago White Sox knuckleballer Wilbur Wood.

Ed Herrmann had baseball in his blood as his grandfather, Marty Herrmann, did not allow a run or hit during his one inning of action as a major league pitcher for the Brooklyn Robins in 1918.

Fortunately for Ed, his major league career lasted much longer than that of his grandfather.

After appearing in two major league games (and going 2 for 3) for the Chicago White Sox during the 1967 season, Herrmann returned to the majors for good in 1969 and soon was entrenched as the regular catcher for the White Sox.

Over the next six seasons, Herrmann tended to a pitching staff that featured knuckleballer Wilbur Wood as the staff ace and at various points also included other notable hurlers including Tommy John, Terry Forster, Jim Kaat, Stan Bahnsen and a young fireballer named Rich “Goose” Gossage.

Herrmann’s best season at the plate came in 1970 when he hit .283 with 19 home runs and 52 RBI in just 96 games. It marked the first of five straight years in which the left-handed hitter reached double figures in home runs.

He had his best game at the plate on June 24, 1973 when Herrmann dominated Oakland A’s pitchers John “Blue Moon” Odom and Darold Knowles as he blasted a three-run home run, two-run double and two-run single to account for seven RBI in an 11-1 victory over the defending world champions.

In 1974, Herrmann was named to the American League All-Star team for the only time in his career. Ironically, Herrmann did not play in the game as starting catcher Thurman Munson played the entire contest.

In an interesting twist, after a contract dispute with the White Sox following the 1974 season, Herrmann soon became Munson’s backup on a regular basis as he was traded to the Yankees prior to the 1975 season.

After hitting .255 with six home runs and 30 RBI while playing in 80 games (24 behind the plate and the rest as a designated hitter) for the Yankees in 1975, Herrmann was traded to the California Angels.

Having played his high school baseball at Crawford High School in San Diego, it would have been ideal for Herrmann’s homecoming to have been a storybook one, but unfortunately he hit only .174 in 29 games for the Angels before being shipped to the Houston Astros.

Over the next two seasons, Herrmann played primarily in a reserve role for the Astros, though he did hit .291 in limited duty during the 1977 season.

After splitting the 1978 season between the Astros and Montreal Expos, Herrmann retired to conclude his 11 year major league career. He finished his career with 80 home runs, 320 RBI and a .240 career batting average.

After retiring, Herrmann was active as a scout and coaching youth baseball. In recent years he has been active on Facebook.

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