Born: April 15, 1910
Died: November 27, 2006
Edward Joseph Mayoski was born April 15, 1910 in Holyoke, Massachusetts and grew up in Clifton. His parents worked in the silk industry in Paterson and by the time Eddie was in grade school the family’s name had been shortened to Mayo. Eddie and his older brother were both talented sandlot players, but Eddie’s best sport was basketball. The agile, reed-thin teenager was the star of the Clifton High hoops squad, and received a basketball scholarship from Providence. Eddie chose to join the workforce and play semipro ball on the side. Although he shot right-handed on the hardwood, he batted left-handed on the diamond.
In 1932, Eddie signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers. He mostly played third base and developed decent power on his way to the majors, making his debut as a member of the New York Giants in 1936 after a spring trade. He served as the backup for shortstop Travis Jackson as the Giants won the NL pennant. Eddie saw action in one game during the World Series as a defensive replacement. New York traded him to the Boston Bees that winter and, a year later, he was traded to the Cubs, who sent him to the minors. Eddie switched to second base and became a Pacific League All-Star, earning the nickname “Steady Eddie.”
Eddie would likely have finished his career in the PCL, but the manpower shortages created by World War II put a premium on 30-something players and he returned to the majors as a member of the Philadelphia A’s in 1943. Eddie, who had persevered through a litany of injuries during his career, stayed more or less healthy and played in 128 games, batting .219. A week before the season ended, the A’s traded him to the Red Sox for fellow New Jerseyan Johnny Welaj. When Boston tried to ship Eddie to the minors, he became eligible for the Rule 5 draft and the Tigers reacquired him.
Eddie’s defense, hustle and veteran leadership helped the Tigers win 88 games in 1944 and finish in second place. He was among the team leaders in hits, runs and stolen bases, and received a handful of MVP votes. In 1945, Eddie continued his great work in the field and flexed surprising power, with 10 homers, 24 doubles and 3 triples. He finished second on the team to Hank Greenberg with a .285 average and was named to the All-Star Game (which was not played that year). The Tigers won 88 games again, but this time that was good for the pennant. The AL MVP vote was split that year, with The Sporting News picking Eddie and the baseball writers naming his teammate, Hal Newhouser. Eddie collected 7 hits in 28 at bats in Detroit’s 7-game victory over the Cubs. He scored four times and drove in a pair of runs.
In 1946, Eddie was unable to fully recover from an arm injury suffered the previous summer. His chronically sore back also flared up. A collision with teammate Hoot Evers and another one on a play at second base ended his season, and he underwent surgery for a ruptured disk. In 1947, Eddie put together a 20-game hitting streak, but overall his play had slipped. His final season as a big-leaguer was 1948. The Tigers made him player-manager of their top farm team, the Toledo Mud Hens. In 1951, he joined the coaching staff of his old Detroit manager, Steve O’Neill, skipper of the Red Sox. He moved with O’Neill in 1952 to the Phillies, where coached through the 1954 season.
Eddie got into the restaurant business after his baseball career and was a popular speaker on the banquet circuit. He passed away at the age of 96 in Banning, California.