Edwin Lee "Eddie" Mathews (1931 - 2001)

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Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About Edwin Lee "Eddie" Mathews

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Mathews

Edwin Lee "Eddie" Mathews (October 13, 1931 – February 18, 2001) was an American Major League Baseball third baseman. He is regarded as one of the greatest third basemen ever to play the game.

Early life

Born in Texarkana, Texas, Mathews was six years old when his family moved to Santa Barbara, California where he developed into a star high school player. A baseball diamond located behind the Santa Barbara High School bears the name Eddie Mathews Field. Signed by the Boston Braves in 1949, he continued to shine in their farm system as a left-handed hitting third baseman who hit towering home runs.

Baseball career

Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta Braves

Brought up to the major leagues in 1952, Eddie Mathews hit 25 home runs, including three in one game. In 1953 the Braves moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he batted .302, hit 47 home runs, and drove in 135 runs. For nine straight seasons he hit at least 30 home runs, including leading the National League twice (1953, 1959).

As one of 1954's superstars in American sports, Mathews was chosen for the cover of the first-ever issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. Around this time, Ty Cobb said of Mathews: "I've only known three or four perfect swings in my time. This lad has one of them."

Mathews was a powerful pull-hitter, and for many years of his career teams would implement the "Mathews shift" when he came to bat. The second baseman would shift well to his left, toward first base, and the shortstop would come to the second base side of the bag, leaving a gaping hole between second and third base. Mathews delighted in occasionally punching the ball through that hole.

The Braves won the 1957 National League championship. In the World Series, Mathews hit a game-winning home run in the tenth inning of game four. The Braves went on to defeat the New York Yankees to win the Series. Mathews made the final out of the Series, a forceout of Gil McDougald on Moose Skowron's hard-hit grounder.

Mathews was regarded as one of the strongest power hitters of his time, often being compared to American League contemporary Mickey Mantle, in terms of power hitting strength. Hall-of-Fame teammate Warren Spahn once said of the two: "Mathews is just as strong as Mantle. They don't hit the same – Mantle gets all of his weight into his swing; Mathews uses his wrists more." Spahn's comment on Mathews' use of his wrists was in reference to his unique swing, as believed by many to be one of the more graceful swings in baseball history. He is the only player to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta.

Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers

Mathews was traded to the Houston Astros before the 1967 season. That year, he became the seventh player to hit 500 career home runs, becoming a member of the 500 home run club coming off pitcher Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants. During the 1967 season, Mathews was traded from the Astros to the Detroit Tigers. In the 1968 World Series, he made his final appearances in two post-season games as the Tigers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals. Upon his retirement, he was seventh in all-time home runs with 512. Over his career, he was named to the All-Star team nine times, played in three World Series, and drove in 100 or more runs five times.

Between 1954 and 1966 he and Braves teammate Hank Aaron hit 863 home runs (Aaron 442, Mathews 421), moving ahead of the Yankees duo of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as the all-time leaders in major league history.

Managing

He managed the Atlanta Braves from 1972 to 1974. He was the manager when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run. He is also one of the few players to play, coach, and manage for the same baseball team.

After baseball

Eddie Mathews's number 41 was retired by the Atlanta Braves in 2001.

Mathews was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1976.

In 1978 Eddie Mathews was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and today still ranks second all-time among third basemen in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage and total bases.

In 1999, he ranked Number 63 on The Sporting News list of Baseball's Greatest Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Mathews died from complications of pneumonia in 2001 in La Jolla, California. Later that year, the Braves honored his memory with the placement of patches bearing his retired uniform number, 41, on their jerseys.

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Eddie Mathews's Timeline

1931
October 13, 1931
2001
February 18, 2001
Age 69