(Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series on Doc Edwards career as a major league player and lifelong baseball manager.)
By KYLE LOVERN
SAN ANGELO, Texas - Doc Edwards just recently won his 300th game with the San Angelo Colts, a Texas minor league baseball team, in his seventh season with that franchise.
A Matewan High School graduate, Edwards is in his 55th season in pro baseball, as a player, coach or manager.
Edwards was glad to get his 300th win, but the modest West Virginia native wasn’t about to take all the credit for it.
“I’m just an old country boy who believes the players win,” Edwards said. “The manager sits in the dugout and claps his hands. The players should get all the credit. They win the games.”
However, Edwards has won thousands of games over his long career. He has no idea how many. After all, he has played, coached and managed for over 50 years. Prior to coming to San Angelo, Edwards managed at the minor league level with the Quebec Metros, Charleston Charlies, Rochester Red Wings, Sioux Falls Canaries and the Atlantic City Turf.
He also had the two year stint (1987-88) with the Cleveland Indians and managed winter ball for many years in places like Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
He recalls fondly the two seasons he spent in West Virginia’s state capitol in 1982-83 managing the Charleston farm team, which at that time was affiliated with the Cleveland Indians.
In 1981, the Red Wings and Pawtucket Red Sox played a 33-inning marathon that is still the longest game in pro baseball history. So Edwards is an important part of a historic record that may stand a long time.
Three years ago, Edwards was named the ULB Manager of the Year after leading the team to the championship series before falling to Amarillo.
He has many fond memories of his days on the baseball diamond. The profession has taken him to many cities and he has made many moves throughout the years.
But, he says San Angelo will be the last. He and his wife love the town. Edwards said even if he retires from managing, he hopes to stay a part of the Colt’s franchise. “I would like to stay involved, maybe with player procurement,” he added. “We seem to always find some good talent, even former major league players who want to still play.”
The longtime baseball skipper caught the legendary Satchel Paige once in an old timer’s game. Paige, a star in the old Negro Leagues, who also played for Cleveland, became the oldest rookie ever in the majors at 41 years old.
Edward was always known as a solid defensive catcher. His career fielding percentage was .985.
Edwards is proud of the fact he became a Major League expansion scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was very instrumental in putting the original Diamondbacks roster together with former manager Buck Showalter. The expansion draft was in 1997. In 200,1 the Diamondbacks won the World Series in just their fourth season of existence.
Over the course of his career, Doc Edwards has managed the likes of Hall of Famers Phil Niekro, Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Joe Carter, Ron Guidry and Bruce Sutter. “You knew that with the mentality that Eddie and Cal had and their work ethic – they would make it,” Edwards said.
“It’s been an honor to represent that area,” Edwards said of the Tug Valley region. He is one of the few local natives that made it to the major leagues.
“I would love to come back, talk to some classmates and reminisce about Matewan, Williamson and Mingo County,” an emotional Edwards said. “That was a great part of my life.”
Edwards isn’t for sure when he’ll hang up the uniform. He has spent 54 years of his life playing, coaching or managing in professional baseball.
But the minor league life is not as luxurious or easy as the big leagues - small towns, long bus rides and sleeping in hotels.
“I’m going to take it a year at a time,” Edwards said. “At the end of September, or early October, I will think about whether I want to keep riding buses. Think about the toll it has taken on me.”
“Come November I may decide I can’t give it up,” Edwards concluded.
So don’t be surprised to see Edwards back in the dugout next spring. Baseball is ingrained in his soul and it will always be a part of his life.