dward Augustine Walsh was born in Plains (near Wilkes-Barre), PA on May 14, 1881. He, like many young men from the northeastern Pennsylvania region, seemed destined for a long hard life working in the gruesome coal mines. Fortunately for him, his large 6' 1" frame, weighing 180 lbs. and his ability to throw a baseball led him far away into a baseball world that resulted in Hall of Fame stardom.
Walsh mastered the spitball and became known as the greatest wet ball pitcher ever. He gave credit to teammate Elmer Stricklett, who taught him in his rookie season, how to throw the devastating pitch. In 1920, the pitch became an illegal delivery in the trade, except for the designated 17 hurlers who were permitted to continue usage due to the "grandfather clause." "Big Ed" or "Apollo" were nicknames given to him honoring his impressive physique. His career spanned from 1904-1917 playing exclusively for the Chicago White Sox, with the exception of his final year, barely pitching for the Braves of the National League. He posted 195 wins against 126 losses for a winning percentage of .607! His minuscule ERA over 14 seasons was a mere 1.82, and remains the all-time record. In 1908, Walsh enjoyed his most memorable season when he pitched a record 464 innings, won 40 games (losing 15) and suffered a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Indians in October against Addie Joss who logged in a perfect game. In 1913, Walsh's career came to a slow end during spring training in California when he damaged his shoulder throwing a medicine ball. He pitched in only seventeen games over the next four seasons.
During World War I, he worked in a munitions factory. He settled in Meriden and Cheshire, CT where he made his home for many years. He would be an annual guest at the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown, NY until his death in Pompano Beach, FL on May 29, 1959 at the age of 78. Walsh was an obliging signer in person, almost always responded to mail requests and examples of his signature can be found on Government postcards ($500), 3x5 index cards ($400), handwritten letters (depending on the content $750), black and white Hall of Fame Plaque Postcards (Albertype and Artvue) $1000-1200, single signed baseballs (starting at $2500) and photographs (minimum of $1000). Don't expect to find his signature on baseball bats, gloves, jerseys and other similar ephemera, which are the common targets of forgers. Personal cancelled checks have yet to surface in the hobby if they still exist.
Walsh threw, batted and signed right-handed. His signature would typically be written "Ed. A. Walsh" and would occasionally add Chicago White Sox below. Collectors should be careful that, towards the end of his life, his mail could be answered secretarially. This form generally would lack the same letter formation, overlap irregularly and be oversized with a more acute slant. Walsh rounded his letters starting with a long initial stroke that pieced the top loop in the "E". A break would follow and periods would be inserted after the "d", "A" and sometimes after the "h". All of his letters were large with the exception of the small "a" and "s". His individual characteristic in forming the "s" resembled the number "2" before opening up into the wide looped "h". Handwritten letters of Walsh were written with large letters, widely spaced and have one sentence paragraphs with punctuation. His salutations usually included "Your friend" (to his actual friends) or "Yours Resp." to business associates or fans.
Uncommonly known, Ed Walsh holds the distinction of being the only Major Leaguer to have played, coached (1923-25,1928-30 Chicago, A.L.), managed (1924 for Chicago, A.L.,) umpired (1922 American League), scouted and gain induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1946). His only appearance in the World Series came in 1906 with the "Hitless Wonders" when he was supported by a meager crew of batsmen who compiled 537 runs and batted a collective .224 for the entire year. What's more is that his son Edward Arthur pitched four years for the White Sox from 1928-30 and 1932. The junior Walsh prematurely died in 1937 and remains a rare autograph.
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