By Tom Knight
Brooklyn Baseball Historian
Bang the drum slowly for Eddie Joost, who died on April 12, 2011, in Fair Oaks, Calif. He was 95 years old. I had the pleasure of meeting Eddie way back in the early 1940s, when he was a young infielder with the Boston Braves.
The San Francisco native was 6 feet tall and weighed 175 pounds. The righthanded hitter did most of his infielding at shortstop and second base.
Many baseball fans remember Joost as a shortstop who spent most of his career as a member of the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Athletics. Others recall that he was the third and last manager of the White Elephants, as they used to be called. Connie Mack, of course, bossed the team forever. Then came Jimmie Dykes, and finally Joost in the A’s last season in Philadelphia, 1954.
Joost didn’t have much to work with, as the club was broke. Before 1955 rolled around, the team was sold and moved to Kansas City. The Athletics, in their farewell to the City of Brotherly Love, somehow managed to win 51 games and lost 103, finishing in the basement, three games behind the Baltimore Orioles, who were in their first year after being transformed from the hapless St. Louis Browns.
As a player, however, Joost was a fine fielder. He was not much of a hitter in his early days. After joining the Athletics, he seemed to find his power. He actually hit 134 major league home runs in 1,574 games. Overall, his average was .239 for 17 seasons.
Joost played for Omaha, the San Francisco Missions, Syracuse, and Kansas City when it was in the American Association. He had minor league experience from 1933 to 1938, plus a couple of spells with Cincinnati. After four full seasons with the Reds, he was dealt to the Braves on Dec. 4, 1942. He was out of baseball due to World War II. A broken toe plagued him in 1945, when he played in only 35 games with Boston.
He dropped down to Rochester in the International League in 1946, then returned to the majors in ’47 as a player for six seasons and one as a player/manager. Joost then put in one final year in the majors as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 1955.
Joost’s best home run record in any season was six in 1942 with the Reds until he joined the Athletics. Then he hit 109 in the next six seasons — an average of more than 18 for each campaign. Joost set various fielding records at shortstop, some since excelled.
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As we do every year at this time, we recall those major league baseball people who have left us during the past year. Bang the drum slowly for those who left us in 2011: Rian Duren, George Crowe, Gus Zernial, Tony Malinosky, Chuck Tanner, Duke Snider, Joe Frazier, Gino Cimoli, Marty Marion, Harmon Killebrew, Jose Pagan, Dick Williams, Jose Vidal, Bobby Larue Thompson, Paul Splittorff, Dave Sisler, Tomas Roberto Silverio, Larry Shepard, Elmer Sexauer, Fred Sanford, Ricky Adams, Tom McAvoy, Bob McNamara, Mike Krsnich, Buddy Lewis, Charley Metro, Dick Myers, Jose Ortiz, Carlos Pascual, Luis Peraza, Ron Piche, Duane Pillette, James Pyburn, Mel Queen, umpire John Rice, Norman Roy, Bob Rush, Roberto Silverio, Ted Gray, Al Grunwald, Bill Harris, Roy Hartsfield, Jim Heise, Howard Hilton, Spook Jacobs, umpire Bill Kennamon, Tom Dunbar, Len Gilmour, umpire Frank Dezalan, Greg Goosen, Billy Baldwin, Reno Bertoia, Red Borom, Don Buddin, Scott Carey, Perry Currin and Wes Covington.