Former Yankee farm hand didn’t make it to The Bronx but appreciates the journey
Players call it “The Show,” the big stage that is Major League Baseball. The journey is often long, lonely and uncertain. Players must navigate a route that often begins in childhood, continues through school and into their mid-20s. While the ultimate goal is the big leagues, in reality very few actually make it. Disappointing? Perhaps. However, for some players like Wesley Palms resident Ed Dick the journey, not the destination, was the best part.
“If you look at my career as a chart it looks like a pyramid,” Ed said with a laugh. “It goes straight up but then straight down. But more importantly for me was that I loved that silly game of baseball.”
Ed began his career in the early 1950s, when as a youth, he played in the “park leagues” of Chicago. “In those days, the park leagues were run by the players all under 13 years old. We had no parent involvement. The best player for each team was the captain and he decided who played and who didn’t.”
With a passion for the game at a young age, Ed excelled as a southpaw pitcher, soon finding himself on his high school team and then in the Yankees minor league system beginning in 1954 where during his first year he posted an impressive 7-0 record.
“I signed at 17 for $4,000,” Ed said. “That summer, my father drove me to Owensboro, Kentucky where the Yankees had a minor league team in what was known as ‘Kiddy League.’ It was the first time in my life I was away overnight on my own and I had no idea what was going on. But two months later I didn’t want to go home because I was playing baseball in the minor leagues for the New York Yankees and they were paying me to play this wonderful game that I loved.”
Like many players Ed progressed through the Yankees’ farm system, finding success at each level of competition. In 1958 he was invited to spring training with the big club, an experience that thrills him to this day.
“It was marvelous year and I thought I had a great future ahead,” Ed said. “The first day of spring training I got to the ballpark early. I put on my uniform and started to watch this parade coming through the door … Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer … all of those names I idolized as a kid were in the same clubhouse as me. I’m wearing the Yankee uniform so at that moment I’m one of them.”
One of the highlights of Ed’s career was when he faced future Hall of Famer and St. Louis Cardinals great Stan “The Man” Musial during an exhibition game. “I got to face one of my boyhood idols and I was in awe,” Ed said. “And I got him out. I did get him out. What a thrill!”
For a few more seasons, Ed bounced around the Yankees’ minor leagues playing in Montreal, Canada and in Havana, Cuba (where he met Fidel Castro after his team lost a playoff game to the Cuban team).
After having an exceptional year on the mound, he was poised to join the Major League team. “It was the last day of spring training and I had a good spring,” Ed said. “I was told to pack my bags and send them on to Yankee Stadium. I called my father and told him … I made it! I’m going to Yankee Stadium. But as we traveled north from Florida we stopped in Virginia to play the minor league team there. Unfortunately, Casey Stengel (Yankees Manager) called me, my roommate, and another guy over and said you are great young pitchers but we want to get you more experience. But don’t worry, you will be the first ones we call up when the season begins. And to this day, I’m still waiting for that call. It never came.”
The Yankees eventually traded Ed and he played a few more years in the Reds’ and Dodgers’ farm systems before retiring. “I did not make it to the Major Leagues but it was a wonderful time for me and for baseball,” Ed said. “It was about the journey for me, not necessarily about the destination. It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.”
Ed’s travels as a player regularly took him to San Diego, where he fell in love with the city. He moved there in 1975 with his family and decided to retire there. He has worked as volunteer for the Padres as a fan ambassador and regularly attends games.