Goodbye to Cubs pitcher Ed Mayer

Mayer was an All-Star when it came to TTM. (Photo courtesy Brian Salgado)
Mayer was an All-Star when it came to TTM. (Photo courtesy Brian Salgado)

A tip of the cap to Ed Mayer, who has passed away at age 84.

I appreciated his past letter from 2010, one worth a curtain call. I praised his 25 years of public school teaching. Forever a teacher, Mayer was famed for sending back personal letters to collectors, praising them on their baseball knowledge.

Too often, obits reinforce how someone died. Here, I’d like to remember how Ed lived. Enjoy this feature showing one old Cub’s gratitude. His wife even mentioned Ed’s fan mail!

Former Chicago Cubs Pitcher Ed Mayer Reminds Us Why Autographs Matter

Photo courtesy Brian Salgado
Many thanks to collector Brian Salgado for this great update:
“I wrote to Mayer asking for a signature on his 1958 Topps card because he threw out the first pitch at my four-month-old son’s first game at Wrigley Field. Not only did he sign the card, but he sent the letter pictured in the attachment. 
It reads:
“Hi Brian:
“Thank you for the nice letter. I’m glad that your family enjoyed the game and Noah was a winner! 
“Say hi to Noah’s grandparents for me. Real fans like you make the game of baseball special and I am proud to have played ball for the Cubs. 
“I have a nice article on the internet. Google search Eddie Mayer/Cub and pop on the entry that says ‘Almanac.’
“I hope you enjoy it.
“Best Wishes,
Ed Mayer”
“This is unofficially my son’s first autograph through the mail and his first letter from a former player. He’s off to a good start, I’d say! “
When I wrote about Ed Mayer back in 2010, sharing his letter, I learned he was a former teacher, too.
I love the lesson the ex-hurler delivers, a lesson for all of us.
Brian’s example shows that a personal letter matters. You won’t always get such a class response as what Mr. Mayer sent. However, you’ll land the former player’s major league effort when you share of yourself.
Additionally, the Ed Mayer victory for Brian unlocks the secret of the hobby.
The thrill won’t come from a price guide. Sharing the stories behind the signatures: that truly matters.

Saul Rogovin: A Baseball-made Teaching Hero

Collect your teacher’s autograph!

Saul Rogovin became a star after his playing career.

He became a teacher. Forget his stats. Read Ralph Berger’s stirring profile (linked above) from the SABR Bio Project. Rogovin started his education career at age 51, serving students for 12 years. The feature says that Rogovin had to produce his baseball card to convince classes of his earlier career!

One of the most eloquent replies I’ve received came from former Cub Ed Mayer. Mayer taught for 25 years after his pitching days ended.

That’s what led me to seek out more players-turned-teachers to contact.

Here’s my magnificent seven from the past week:

Dave Fleming
Rich Beck
Don Wengert
Ford “Moon” Mullen
Bob Lacey
Jeff Keener
Jim Morris

Who would you add to this list? Yes, I’ll write them, too. Teachers are my heroes. If you serve a classroom (or more), you have my thanks and admiration. In my eyes, you’ll always be an all-star.

Anti-Semitism Sidelines a Chicago Cub

Mayer: “I’m happy with the card.
The picture was taken at Wrigley
Field. I didn’t think about the card then.”

 Pitcher Ed Mayer is a true all-star in my book. After his arm ended his decade in professional ball, his heart led him to teaching. Although a quarter-century in the schools didn’t get him on any more trading cards, he remains in the hearts of students he inspired.

Mayer wrote me:

“Thank you for the nice letter. You are a true fan. I played pro baseball for 10 years. I had to work my way up each year.”

Writing by hand,  he listed his climb up the minor league ladder, starting in 1952, including each team, class of league and won-loss record. At the end of the 1956 season, the Cardinals prospect pitched winter ball in Cuba. The non-stop action (winding up with more winter ball in 1957) wore his arm out, Meyer said.

Nevertheless, the Cubs promoted Meyer from Fort Worth in 1957. He remained on the Chicago roster in 1958.

I wrote him one question:

“The List of Jewish players from the 1950s isn’t huge. How many people (fans, teammates, media) knew of your faith? Any bad reactions?

He replied:

“I only had two experiences in 10 years. But we didn’t care about religion in those days.

Incident #1 was in Indianapolis. A fan was yelling anti-Semitic statements at me while I was pitching for Omaha in AAA. I didn’t pay any attention.

2. I was not allowed to go to the Olympic Club in Phoenix with the rest of the team in 1958 spring training.”

The team. As in THE CHICAGO CUBS. This wasn’t a rag-tag minor leaguer. Mayer had ended the year on the Chicago roster. He belonged. Who cares if it was a private club? He was a teammate, someone to stand up for.

I’ve read the articles. I watched Undercover Boss. The Ricketts family have big ideas about owning the Chicago Cubs. I’d be proud to see the new owners fix an old chapter of team history before starting a new season.

Look up 79-year-old Ed Mayer. Bring him to Arizona for one more spring training, a guest of the team. He deserved better. Once a Cub, always a Cub?

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