TOMMY STUBBS REMEMBERS ED ARMBRISTER

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( The writer is a well known sports journalist and commentator. He does a weekly internet based talk show and is the owner of the wedding business:

Ed was a gentleman, peace-maker, quiet, humble, a true ambassador for the Bahamas through baseball. 

The first time I met Ed was in late 1970s. I was a teenage rookie catcher for Beck’s Bees of the Bahamas Baseball Association. Taking batting practice at Haynes Oval cricket pitch at Fort Charlotte, Ed interrupted and showed me how to hold and swing the baseball bat for better performance.

After that brief introduction, I followed Ed’s career which led him from the Houston Astros to my favourite Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, better known as the Big Red Machine. The Bahamian outfielder was part of a trade that brought MLB Hall of Famer Joe Morgan to the Reds.

A very talented Reds team, which included Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Dan Driessen, Johnny Bench, George Foster, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffy, Cesar Geronimo, reduced Ed’s playing time. 

He was used mostly on defense and to execute the sacrifice bunt to advance base runners.

This became the hallmark of his career which played a pivotal part in the 1975 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

Of all the persons in Ed’s life, even before we became close friends, Ed would ask me to speak on his behalf during his induction into the Bahamian Sports Hall of Fame. I remained honoured to have accepted.

He and I still wait for the responsible parties to display two-time (not one-time) World Series champion on the Wall of Fame at Sir Lynden O. Pindling International Airport. 

He, along with Nat Butler Sr. and the late Frankie Sweeting Sr., coached an all-star team at a tournament in Raleigh, NC, where the Bahamas won its first and only senior baseball championship. His brother Kelson and nephew Lorenzo Carter were among our teammates. 

He, Bertie Murray Sr. and Nat Butler Sr. coached Buttons baseball team at another senior tournament in Atlanta. Key injuries may have played a role in the team’s lost in the championship game at Kennesaw University stadium. 

At the tournament, many opposing team members came to meet Ed and receive autographs. He seldom got that kind of attention in his own home country dish which never seemed to bother him. 

During that trip, Ed and Buttons team – traveling as Bahamas champions – were special guests at a minor league baseball game. The crowd gave Ed and Buttons players a warm welcome on the PA system.  

To recognize his contributions, with major assistance from Mike Butler, Mario Ford and Andy Percentie, I led the establishment of the Ed Armbrister Baseball League at Windsor Park in 2011. 

He personally join us to restore the park and make it playable for baseball. He welded the backstop screen. 

Ed was overwhelmed and humbled by this effort. 

He also spearheaded a week-long baseball clinic for physical education teachers as we campaigned to encourage high school baseball.

Ed got deeply involved in local baseball in 1994 – many years after retiring from his professional playing days. 

I spotted Ed in the stands attending a Nassau Baseball League senior game. Not many at the game knew who he was. 

I introduced Ed to the late Gordon Rodland, owner of TCBY who invited Ed to manage his Wafflecones team, which was under the leadership of player/coach Jeff Francis at the time. 

Ed’s young brother Kelson and their nephew Lorenzo Carter joined Armbry to make TCBY a contending team in the league. The three, along with Ed’s other brothers Johnny and Keith, joined forces again on KC Construction team in the  New Providence Old Timers Softbal Association at the Southern Recreations Grounds.

The demolition of the old Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium took many more quality years away from Ed’s contributions to his favourite sport. 

He managed New Providence senior team to Bahamas Games gold medal.   

The name Ed Armbrister is popular among baseball historians.  

An elderly, white American gentlemen once travelled to Nassau to meet Ed. His taxi driver told him that I would know how to locate Ed. 

The gentleman wanted to get Ed’s autograph, take a photo and present Ed with a book on “The Big Red Machine” Cincinnati Reds. 

One of the man’s life dreams was to meet every member of the champion teams.