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Eddie Solomon

January 28, 2011

What Is the Meaning of the 1978 Atlanta Braves? (card 21 of 25)

(continued from Buzz Capra)

Eddie Solomon was a journeyman, a major league drifter, sometimes able and other times unable to command his pitches. At the time of his 1978 card, Eddie Solomon had played for four teams in the past four years and had during his career compiled a 4.47 ERA and a 7-7 won-loss record. He’d stick with the Braves for a little while, then move on to the Pirates, then the White Sox, then, a little over three years after his career ended, at the age of 34, he would die in a car crash in Macon, Georgia.

The back of Eddie Solomon’s card has an explanation of the rules of “Play Ball” on it, rather than an actual at-bat result, so the Love versus Hate game of “Play Ball” that seems to be nearing its conclusion once again must pause. A batter has just walked, putting the tying run aboard with one out in the bottom of the ninth. It’s easy enough to imagine the card of doomed Eddie Solomon presiding over this tense, fateful stoppage. The sullen manager of Hate, hands jammed in the pockets of his warmup jacket, marches to the mound to gruffly lecture his faltering closer, who after getting the first out of the inning has now surrendered a double and a walk. Due up is the ninth spot in the lineup, a pinch-hitter. A crusty left-handed batsman, a veteran who’s bounced around for years, not a great hitter but a cagey one, never latching on anywhere as an everyday player but continuing to find employment on the margins of one roster after another. He waits in the on-deck circle, attempting to loosen his creaky joints, while Hate’s manager and closer talk past one another in declarative monosyllables and obscenities. As the manager stalks back to the dugout, the pinch-hitter begins, slowly, to move toward the plate.

He’s always been a slow walker on his way to the plate, this fictional character arising from the back of doomed Eddie Solomon’s card. Maybe it started because a coach once told him the struggle between pitcher and batter is all about rhythm, i.e., disrupting his while establishing your own. As his career crystallized into that of a bat for hire, he made this slow walk his would-be trademark (in truth, no one noticed him enough to really care), thinking of himself and his slow walk as an intentional irritant, like he’s a farmer pulling his tractor into traffic for no reason except to make all the drivers behind him late. If nothing else, at least I’ll annoy. But now, late in his underwhelming journeyman passage through the big time, his slow walk has evolved into something else. He has begun to walk slowly everywhere, paying attention to his movement and to the world around him, waking up to an awareness that at any moment the whole big game could end.

6 comments

  1. The ’78 Braves weren’t anything special, so I guess Topps decided they wouldn’t bother to make the effort into creating a single interesting shot of the ’78 Braves. I wonder how aware the Braves were that year of all the fuss around there just a few years before (with Aaron’s HR chase)? It must have felt like being alone in your house after everybody at the party had just left.

    I remember Solomon’s name and he died younger than I am now. That gives me the creeps.


  2. He asked to be called “Buddy J” Solomon for a stretch during his tenure in Atlanta. I seem to recall a few rhetorical eye-rolls from Skip Caray about that.

    There’s no hard evidence I know of that would indict his lifestyle, but the streetwise self-nicknaming, followed by three seasons with the notorious Pirates of the early ’80s and a premature and accidental death speak to the likelihood of a life out of balance.


  3. I knew Eddie on a more personal level. Eddie had a sense of humour and enjoyed joking around. A life out of balance? He had a wife and three children, whom he loved very much. Eddie participated in charitable causes. Eddie was concerned about what he would do after he no longer played baseball, he confided to me. He was considering studying social work. I was deeply saddened to hear of his tragic death, and will always miss his friendship He was a true friend.


  4. Thanks very much for passing along that info about Eddie Solomon, boomkatte. It definitely puts a more human face on a player I only knew from his card.


  5. Sorry, I meant no disrespect to your friend. Tragic circumstances engender a search for meanings and reasons, if only so the rest of us might take a lesson. The “Buddy J” story put this 10-year-old firmly in his corner, and I was sorry when the Braves traded him away.


  6. Eddie was/is called “Buddy J” by some of his family. That’s more likely than not why he asked to be called “Buddy.” He was a warm man, and I remember how much he loved his children, and his then young son, “Mingo.” He was very proud of them, and it’s very sad he was unable to watch them grow into adults. Eddie had a lot of potential and was concerned about what he would do after he no longer was in the major leagues. He hadn’t gone to college, but wanted to pursue social work and working with underprivileged children. He was a kind man, and loved his “bunion” on his foot! Laughing here remembering that! Eddie didn’t go for the bling or the glitz himself. He was an insightful man, concerned for the future. No disrespect taken. We only sometimes know these people, as you mentioned, from a picture on a card. We forget that there is an entire person behind that face, an entire personality away from the public world. I was privileged to know THAT Eddie. He could be quiet in public, but his sense of humor was intact. His birthday is tomorrow, and in his new life, may he celebrate in light and happiness.



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