Pro Perspective: Johnny Edwards
Former NL All Star and Gold Glove Award Winner
Johnny Edwards was born in 1938 in Columbus, Ohio. He played college ball in his hometown, at Ohio State University, then was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1959.
Edwards made his major league debut for the Reds in 1961 and he would go on to play for 14 seasons in the big leagues. In addition to the Reds, he spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros.
Edwards was selected to the National League (NL) All Star team for three straight years, from 1963 - 1965. He was an excellent defensive catcher, winning the Gold Glove award in 1963 and 1964.
His best season was arguably in 1965, when Edwards hit .267/.353/.474 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs. That season he also maintained a .990 fielding percentage and 43% caught stealing percentage.
Over the course of his MLB career, Edwards collected more than 1,100 hits, 80+ home runs, and he gunned down 376 baserunners attempting to steal.
He led NL catchers in fielding percentage on four separate occasions (in 1963, 1969, 1970, and 1971). Edwards also caught 109 shutouts during his career, which puts him in the top 25 all time among catchers.
Q&A with Johnny
Johnny is a highly decorated catcher with a huge amount of baseball experience. He has played on all star teams among names like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Mickey Mantle.
This is an incredible man to learn from, so I wrote him a letter a few weeks ago. Below you will see the card he signed for me as well as the answers he gave for my three questions.
I of course wanted to share these responses with the readers of Catchers Home, as his answers are helpful for catchers that want to improve their game.
Here are his responses to my questions, as you'll see in the picture below.
Question 1: What is your favorite memory from playing in the majors?
Answer: 1961 World Series. 3 all stars and 2 gold gloves. One year without (an) error.
Question 2: What do you think is the most important skill that a catcher should have?
Answer: 1. Learn how to relax your arms. 2. With men on base, anticipate the ball being thrown in (the) dirt - block it. 3. Concentrate on getting the pitcher by, find out early his best pitch (and) control. Throw a off speed pitch early when behind, every one on bench is looking and hitters don't like to be fooled.
Question 3: If you could give one piece of advice to a young catcher hoping to one day play professionally, what would it be?
Answer: Learn how to set up hitters, find their strengths and get ahead of hitters.
I love the specificity of his advice. It gives catchers tangible things that they can work on immediately to improve. I also think it speaks to the importance of the leadership that a catcher should have and display during the game.
This advice shouldn't be ignored - remember, this is coming from a legend, a man whom one SABR researcher labeled as the second most dominant catcher in MLB history.
Thanks for Reading
We will continue to share more Pro Perspectives with you. Keep on the lookout for them!