(Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Doc Edwards career as a major league player and lifelong baseball manager.)
By KYLE LOVERN
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Howard Rodney “Doc” Edwards shows no signs of slowing down even at the ripe old age of 75.
The Mingo County native, who grew up in the Red Jacket area, and went on to play major league baseball, is managing the San Angelo Colts of the United Baseball League (ULB).
Upon graduation from high school in 1954, he joined the Navy. After his stint in the Navy, Edwards played football and baseball at a junior college in Oceanside, California. While playing there, a famous scout found him.
Edwards was signed as an amateur free agent in 1958 by the Cleveland Indians. He was discovered by former Pittsburgh Pirate great Ralph Kiner who was serving as a scout for the Indians at that time.
“Kiner was one of my heroes,” Edwards said from his San Angelo office. “I had been playing football at Mir Acosta Junior College near Camp Pendleton in California. I also played baseball that spring.”
Once the scout saw him playing baseball, he suggested that Edwards drive down to San Diego and tryout for the Padres, who at that time were a Class AAA minor league team. After a successful tryout he signed a contract, and the rest is history.
He only spent 3 ½ years in the minor leagues, quickly climbing his way up the ladder from North Platte, North Dakota to Selma, Alabama and eventually he got the call up to the “show” with the Indians.
Edwards was a 6-foot-2, 215 pound catcher and had a solid major league career. He also played for the Athletics, Yankees and Phillies during his big league tenure from 1962 to 1970.
Edwards, earned the nickname “Doc” from his time as a Navy Medic. The name has stuck to him like glue throughout the years. Probably no one would know him as Howard.
He started playing baseball at Matewan High School, where he graduated back in the mid 1950’s. That summer he played briefly for the Varney Redbirds, a coalfield league team mostly made up of family members including his father Howard (who was also a catcher) and six uncles. He said a couple of his uncles and his father were the real athletes of the family.
“The coalfields have a rich history of baseball,” Edwards said proudly. “We used to talk about how Stan Musial got his start there playing for the Williamson Redbirds.”