EDDIE JOOST PASSES ON
For an old Philadelphia Athletics fan, this piece is one of the hardest to write, for in many ways Eddie Joost personified the post-World War II Athletics. Eddie passed away on April 12, 2011, after having been in hospice care for some time.
Eddie was a fine infielder, a manager with a terrible team, and a radiant personality, but Eddie Joost was more than that. He was part of the bone and marrow of the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society, always willing and happy to do what he could for our organization.
Edwin David Joost was born in San Francisco on June 5, 1916, which made him 94 at the time of his death. After graduating from Mission High School, Eddie got into professional baseball in 1933 with the San Francisco Missions of the Pacific Coast League. As a young infielder of promise, he was purchased by the Cincinnati organization, getting his introduction to the major leagues with the Reds on September 11, 1936. In 1937, Joost played for Syracuse before another September callup to the Reds. He played for Kansas City in the American Association in 1938, and in 1939, Eddie made it to the National League to stay, appearing in 42 games for the pennant-winning Reds with a .252 batting average. The following year, Joost, acclaimed for his fielding, played 88 games in the infield. He hit the first home run of his big league career and played all seven games of the World Series for the championship Reds at second base. Eddie had five hits and two RBIs in the Series. In 1941, Joost played 152 games for the Reds, batting .253, and 142 games the following year.
Eddie slipped in 1942 in both his hitting and fielding, and on December 4 the Reds traded him, pitcher Nate Andrews and $25,000 to Boston for the Braves’ Eddie Miller. Eddie’s career in Boston was unhappy, marked by a poor relationship with manager Casey Stengel and a miserable .185 batting average in 421 at-bats. After playing just 35 games with the Braves in 1945, Joost was sent, along with $40,000, to the Cardinals for outfielder Johnny Hopp. The Cards sent Joost to their Rochester farm team, where Eddie had a good enough season to catch the attention of the Athletics’ Connie Mack, who purchased him on September 29, 1946, for $10,000.
It was a near-magic connection, both for Eddie Joost and for Mister Mack’s A’s. For 1947, Joost’s batting average was none too good, but he walked 114 times and sparked an A’s team which emerged from the cellar, winning 29 more games than the year before and moving up to fifth place, the club’s first winning season since 1933. It was the first of six straight seasons in which Joost collected more than 100 bases on balls. Part of that, along with the double figures he posted in home runs for the same six seasons, could be attributed to Joost’s decision to wear eye-glasses on the playing field. Glasses were still a relative rarity in the baseball world, but Eddie talked it over with Mister Mack and decided to go ahead and wear them.
In 1948, the A’s were in a pennant race for the first time since the breakup of the Grove-Simmons-Cochrane dynasty, and Eddie Joost was a major part of it. He lifted his average to .250, hit 16 home runs, and was a catalyst for winning on the field. The club was in first place in mid-August, ahead of Cleveland and Boston, when Joost hurt his hand. Eddie was in and out of the lineup, and in and out of the hospital, for the rest of the season. Without their sparkplug and leader, the A’s gradually slipped back to a fourth-place finish, with a record of 84-70. But fans of the 1948 A’s will always wonder what might have happened with a healthy Eddie Joost.
In 1949, the team fell to fifth, though still with a winning record, and it was this team which set a record which still stands, for double plays in a season. The infield of Fain-Suder-Joost-and-Majeski had a memorable year. For Eddie Joost, it was a fine season, as he raised his average to .263, hit 23 home runs, and drove in a career-high 81, a fine number for a leadoff hitter. Joost was the starting shortstop for the American League All-Star team in 1949, hitting in the fifth spot, just behind Joe DiMaggio. Eddie was 1-for-2 with a walk, his hit a crucial two-out single that drove in two runs in the AL victory at Ebbets Field.
Joost was named to the All-Star team again in 1952; however, he did not get into the rain-shortened game at Shibe Park. He hit 20 home runs that season, as the Athletics pushed their way back into the first division with a 79-75 record. In 1953, as age and accumulated hurts started to take its toll, Joost played in only 51 games and his numbers dropped across the board.
Jimmy Dykes was let go as manager after the 1953 season, and Joost was selected as the third manager in the club’s history. Unfortunately for Eddie, the poverty-stricken franchise was unable to supply him with good players, and the ones he had, like Gus Zernial and Bobby Shantz, were beset by injuries. The 1954 Philadelphia Athletics, with a record of 51-103, were a dismal last and, after the season, were on their way to Kansas City under a new owner, Arnold Johnson. Johnson first told Joost he would be kept on as manager but subsequently changed his mind and hired Lou Boudreau.
Eddie Joost, who had played in but nineteen games in his managerial year, resumed his playing career, went through spring training with the Indians, was let go, and signed on with the Red Sox. He played in 55 games as a utility player for Boston, the last of them on September 25, 1955, ending his playing career.
Joost took a job as manager of the San Francisco Seals in 1956, working but half a year there. After his baseball career, Eddie worked for a number of years for Wilson Sporting Goods in Honolulu, and then returned to the San Francisco area, where he spent the remainder of his life.
In the mid-1990s, Eddie was the guest of honor at the Willow Grove baseball card show, and the long lines which developed for his autograph suddenly indicated the remaining strong interest in the old A’s. From this there sprang an effort, which was successful, to get Eddie Joost into the Bay Area Baseball Hall of Fame and the equally successful creation of the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society. For all the time that the A’s Society sponsored events for the public, Eddie Joost was always happy to travel in from the West Coast to help out.
Eddie Joost was the last living player of the 1940 Reds world champions and the last player who had played a National League game in Baker Bowl. He was immensely proud of the 1949 A’s double-play record, and he made a point of going to Cooperstown to make sure the Hall of Fame gave proper credit to that mark. Eddie Joost was proud of his career in baseball, and we in the A’s Society are proud to have had such a great guy as Eddie so much a part of our organization for so long. He will be sorely missed.
Joost, ex-Philadelphia A’s star and manager, dies
By Frank Fitzpatrick
Inquirer Staff Writer
Eddie Joost, who nearly saved the Philadelphia A’s as their spark-plug shortstop, then managed the once-regal franchise in its final forlorn season here, died Tuesday in California at 94.
Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/20110414_Joost__ex-Philadelphia_A_s_star_and_manager__dies.html
San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Eddie Joost, a San Francisco native who was player-manager for the Philadelphia A’s in 1954, died Tuesday in Fair Oaks (Sacramento County). He was 94.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/13/SPC81IUDSO.DTL#ixzz1JX9xRNbP