Baseball is in full bloom right now. We’re rooting for the Tigers. Why? Among other reasons, my stepfather, Eddie Mayo also played for them. In fact, he was World Series MVP in 1945. How cool is that?
My mom started seeing Eddie around 1975, after his wife passed away. Eddie had always admired his “Ginny”, largely because he was also her brother-in-law. Yes, you guessed it. Eddie married his wife’s sister.
Hey, it kept the family intact. If you marry your sister-in-law, you don’t have to explain yourself over and over again. Mom and Eddie had known each other for decades, so it made perfect sense. After the wedding, they spent many years on Pacoima Court, spending summers in Maryland where Eddie had a home, before they finally moved to the desert in 1989.
In watching these riveting baseball games, I wonder what it must have been like for Eddie to be a professional athlete. There’s the discipline, the traveling, the fans, and all the pressures from the crowds. I’m sure the celebrity status was trying at times, along with the challenges of raising a family and supporting a wife.
Eddie used to say that baseball was the most difficult sport. You had 1/10th of a second to assess the pitch and decide whether to swing or let it go by. As I watch the pitchers on TV, I wonder about the recipe of a ball before it is thrown. Will it be a fastball, a curve, slider, changeup or something else? Teresa and I used to play softball, and even those slow pitches were sometimes impossible to hit.
Imagine a hardball hurling toward you at 100+ mph, and you can see how difficult it would be for any professional athlete to execute a swing correctly.
According to the Internet, Edward Joseph Mayo, nicknamed "Hotshot" and "Steady Eddie," was an infielder for nine seasons in Major League Baseball, playing for the New York Giants, Boston Braves, Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers.
But Eddie’s best years were with the Tigers, where he played second base from 1944 through 1948. In 1945, he helped lead the Tigers to the American League pennant and to victory over the Cubs in the seven-game World Series. That year, the Sporting News crowned him MVP. The gold and diamond ring he wore was like a large satellite on his hand, and a physical tribute to his athletic accomplishments.
After his career in baseball ended, Eddie ran a very successful tile business, and then did very well as a restaurateur. The competitive spirit was always with him, and after marrying my mom, he even taught my twin sister Teresa and I the fundamentals of golf. Now that’s the toughest game in my book!
Eddie was married to my mom for about 24 years and deeply devoted to her. After she passed in 2000, he continued with life without her, until he passed away in 2006 in Banning, California. At the time, he was 96, and considered the oldest living former Detroit Tiger, and the eighth oldest living former Major League Baseball player.
Eddie and I had our tough moments at times, especially after my mom died, but for the most part, we got along pretty well. And it’s the good times that I try to remember. Life’s too short to harbor negativity.
So, here’s to you Eddie, wherever you may be. May your Tigers be victorious!