Born: June 27, 1932
Edward Michael Kasko was born June 27, 1932 in Linden. His father owned a small grocery store. Eddie loved baseball as a boy and snuck away from the shop whenever he could to play. An easygoing young man who loved practical jokes, he eventually excelled as a shortstop in sandlot ball and for the Linden High Tigers. The St. Louis Browns signed him at age 17 and sent him to Class-D Suffolk for the 1950 season.
A gifted fielder with a weak bat, he was dealt to the Phillies the following season and then spent 1952 and 1953 in military service. He spent the 1954 season playing for Richmond, where he met his future wife, Catherine. Eddie’s hitting improved enough in 1955 to bring him to the attention of the Cardinals, who acquired him after the season in a cash deal. With batting tips from former All-Star Dixie Walker, Eddie finished the 1956 seasons strong and earned a shot at a big-league job the following spring.
After watching Eddie in March, manager Fred Hutchinson wanted to use him as the club’s third baseman for the 1957 season. Ken Boyer wasn’t getting the job done defensively, so the Cards moved Boyer to the outfield. Eddie batted a pesky .273 for St. Louis and the team finished in second place, eight games behind the Braves.
After an off-year in 1958, Eddie was part of a six-payer trade between the Cardinals and Reds. He won the everyday shortstop job for Cincinnati and batted a career-best .292. The following season, Eddie was an All-Star and a key part of the Reds’ pennant-winning team. Although he was on the roster for both All-Star Games played that July, he only saw action in the second one. After coming in for Maury Wills he singled in his only at bat for a perfect 1.000 average. Eddie also turned a pair of double plays against the AL. That October, he went 7-for-22 against the Yankees in the World Series, leading the team in hits during a 4 games to 1 loss.
The Reds traded Eddie to the Houston Colt .45s in 1964. He teamed with fellow veteran Nellie Fox. It was the final season for both players as regulars, though Eddie led the NL with a .978 fielding average. Among the young infielders he tutored was Joe Morgan, who mentioned Eddie in his Hall of Fame induction speech. Prior to the 1966 season, Houston sent Eddie to the Red Sox for Felix Mantilla. He played in 58 games and then accepted an offer to manage the team’s Class-AAA club.
After three seasons as a minor-league manager, Eddie became Boston’s skipper in 1970. In 1972, the team came within a half-game of the AL East crown. He was credited for developing Dwight Evans, Carlton Fisk and Bill Lee into valuable contributors, and also stuck with Luis Tiant when no other club wanted him. From 1974 to 1993, Eddie was Boston’s top scout and also its scouting director. He retired to Richmond in 1994. In 2010, he was enshrined in the Red Sox Hall of Fame along with Jimmy Piersall, Tommy Harper, John Valentin and Don Zimmer.