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Ed Blake

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat


Date and Place of Birth: December 23, 1925 East St. Louis, IL
Date and Place of Death:    April 15, 2009 Swansea, IL
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit: 40th Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Edward J. Blake was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, on December 23, 1925. He wasa teammate of Hank Bauer at Central Catholic High School in East St. Louis, and the St. Louis Cardinals showed a lot of interest in Blake at an early age and even had him pitch batting practice during the 1943 World Series when he was 17.

The following year – 1944 - he signed a professional contract with the Cardinals and split the season between three clubs: the Columbus Red Birds of the Class AA American Association, the Allentown Cardinals of the Class B Interstate League and the Mobile Bears of the Class A1 Southern Association.

After the season ended, Blake entered military service with the Army. "Since I had already played pro ball, everyone told me I'd be in the special services and not to worry about all the tests they give you," he told Wally Spiers of the Belleville News Democrat. But he was soon on his way to the Pacific Theater with the 40th Infantry Division as an infantryman in the Philippines. "The next time I saw a ball and bat was when we overran an encampment [Japanese] and I found an old Mel Ott bat and a couple of balls," he said. "We used them to play catch."

Blake was wounded while in the Philippines and recovery took nine months, but he reported for spring training with the Cardinals in 1946. He was assigned to the Columbus Cardinals of the Class A South Atlantic League, where he opened the season with three straight losses. "I was really depressed," he said. "Then I won 13 straight."

The young right-hander finished the season with a 16-8 record and a 3.51 earned run average. He split 1947 between the Columbus Cardinals and the Columbus Red Birds of the American Association, moving up to the Rochester Red Wings of the Class AAA International League in 1948, where he worked mostly in relief. Blake was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1949 and spent the next two years with the Syracuse Cliefs of the International League, back in a starting role.

He finally made it to the major leagues in 1951, aged 25, making his debut as a relief pitcher against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 1. Blake made two more appearances with the Reds that year before finishing the season with Columbus of the American Association. In 1952, Blake made a further two relief appearances for the Reds while playing most of the year with Milwaukee of the American Association. He was back for another single relief appearance for the Reds in 1953 and was 14-7 with Indianapolis of the American Association.

Blake was purchased by Toronto of the International League in 1954. Over the next three seasons he was 15-9, 17-13 and 17-11, and was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in December 1956. The Athletics almost immediately tried to trade Blake to the Tigers in an eight player deal, but Commissioner Frick wouldn't approve the deal, stating that Blake, now 31, should be retained at least through March 25 and be given a thorough trial by the Athletics.

After an absence of three years, Blake was back in the major leagues in April 1957, and made two relief appearances for the Athletics before joining Toronto. He continued to pitch in Toronto through 1959 and ended his professional career the same yea with the Houston Buffs of the American Association.

After baseball, Blake spent nearly 50 years in the plumbing business and was a past president of Plumbers Local 360. Blake's son, Ed Blake Jr., also was a talented baseball player who spent four years in the minor leagues from 1970 to 1973, after being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles.

After a long illness, Ed Blake passed away at Rosewood Care Center on April 15, 2009, in Swansea, Illinois, aged 83. He is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Belleville, Illinois.

Date Added December 19, 2017

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