Eddie “Slugger” Wells
Graduate of Ashland High School class of 1920, when he played football, basketball, and baseball. He was the “giant” of the football team at 168 pounds, playing left tackle. In baseball it is said that he struck out so many batters that the fielders sometimes sat down in the outfield.
Eddie’s hero was the legendary Ty Cobb, who was then the manager of the Detroit Tigers. While he was in college the Chicago Cubs, Yankees, and Cleveland Indians tried to sign him, but he held out till Detroit gave him a $1000 contract in 1922, where he played for Ludington. In June of 1923 he joined Detroit playing at Boston and was put in a big league park. A few days later in New York he was called from the bullpen in the sixth inning to face Babe Ruth and struck him out on a slow curve. He was sent to Birmingham for more experience that season and on graduation the next year was back with Ty Cobb in Detroit.
In 1927 his arm went bad and he was sent back to Birmingham where he recuperated and the next season won 25 and lost 7. The Yankee bought his contract at the suggestion of Babe Ruth, who had never been able to hit a home run off him. He was with the Yankee four years and he says, “Pitching for the Yankees was the greatest thrill of his life.” His pro career ended with the St. Louis Browns having spent five years in the minors and ten in the big league. Eddie appeared in 431 games, won 152 and 106.
His nickname “Slugger” came not from his prowess as a hitter, but he says, “I couldn’t remember all my customer’s names in Montgomery in the gas and oil business, so I just called them “Slugger” and it stuck with us.”
An enthusiastic golfer, Eddie still shoots in the 80’s.
Nominator: John L. Braun
Presenter” John Krisko