Sports: Basketball & Baseball
Born: January 1, 1900
Died: Decemebr 21, 1949
Edward Joseph Kearns was born on the first day of the 20th century in Trenton. Smart and athletic with a rock-solid build and a shock of red hair, Teddy was a fixture in the gymnasiums of Trenton, where basketball was king. He grew up playing with and against George Glasco and Rusty Saunders. All three were standout baseball players, too. In his obituary, Teddy was remembered as one of the state’s most outstanding all-around high school athletes. Teddy and Rusty actually signed minor-league contracts and both had cups of coffee in the majors. Teddy saw action with the hometown A’s and he Cubs in the 1920s but spent all but a few weeks in the bush leagues. All thee pals would make their names as pro hoops pioneers.
After several years as a standout in semipro ball, Teddy made his professional debut at age 20 in the rough and tumble Eastern Basketball League with the Trenton Bengals in 1920–21. At 5’11” 180 lbs., he was a force on defense and displayed cool confidence when his team had the ball. Nowadays fans would characterize Teddy as a player who made his teammates better. He spent most of his early career playing pro ball for clubs in Trenton. In 1925–26, with the formation of the American Basketball League, he joined the Washington Palace Five, a great team owned by laundry magnate George Preston Marshall. Saunders and Glasco were reunited on the club, which went 22–8, finishing in second place I both halves of the bifurcated ABL season.
Teddy remained a top player during his years in the ABL, playing for the Philadelphia Warriors, Trenton Royal Bengals and Syracuse All-Americans before the league folded under the weight of the Depression. Teddy retired as a player in his early 30s but kept his hand in the game as a coach, organizer of the Trenton Moose club (which starred Glasco, Saunders and Hall of Famer Honey Russell) and later as Athletic Director for the Roebling Co. in Trenton. He passed away at age 40 from a heart attack.