EDISON ‘Ed’ Armbrister was remembered on Saturday not only for his controversial Bunt in Major League Baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, but also as one of the few Bahamians to have won two world titles in each sport.
Armbrister, who died briefly on March 17 at the age of 72, was buried in the Bahamas Faith Ministries, where Pastor Dave Burrows remembered their Harlem youth when they named their neighborhood.
Burrows said in his eulogy that growing up with Armbrister’s brother, Jonathan, he met Ed, whom they later served at BFM like so many other family members, including their late parents.
After going down a colorful memory trail, Burrows said what his connection with the Armbrister family was like as teenagers when they went on some well-known adventures in Harlem, he said baseball was a big part of their life and (Ed) Armbrister was considered a celebrity .
“Everyone was talking about his baseball exploits,” said Burrows. “I got to know him a lot better when he came to BFM because I was a baseball player who also excelled at basketball.
“We talked about baseball and about life and different things and then I had the opportunity to take a player to college.”
Burrows said after speaking with Armbrister to tell the coach that the league they were playing in was the minor league from single A to AA.
When he called the trainer back and told him who his reference was, the trainer did not hesitate to give the young man the scholarship.
“He was the first in a very small group that included Mychal Thompson, Rick Fox, and Klay Thompson. These are Bahamians with two world championship rings, ”said Burrows. “He was really part of a very rare group.
“And sometimes we celebrate our heroes and sometimes we forget our heroes. We forget their achievements. I pray that a book, film or something else will be made so that we can truly immortalize his memory in Bahamian history, so that people know who it was who walked this path. “
Of this controversial Bunt who changed the series, Burrows said whenever he met Boston fans and he told them he was from the Bahamas and he knew Armbrister, they wanted to curse him.
According to Burrows, Armbrister was in good company when he settled on his team with legendary players like Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Ken Griffey Sr.
“After returning home, he decided to give something back to look after young men,” said Burrows. “I’m sure a lot of young men can testify because when he spoke to Jeff Francis (a baseball fanatic and member of BFM) he told me about the work Ed and others did taking care of young men.”
In a fitting tribute to the Community Baseball League in which they have worked with so many young men, Michael Butler said Armbrister has a humble spirit but is ready to turn to those in need with compassion.
“Ed was very patriotic and had a great love for his country and his compatriots,” said Butler. “That’s what I remember most about him.”
About 26 years ago they became friends in the Nassau Baseball League, where Armbrister was the manager of TCBY Waffle Cones while Butler was a player at Buttons Formal Wear.
“I then worked with Ed Armbrister to create the Community Baseball League, which came a few years later after the Ed Armbrister Baseball League was founded in 2011,” recalls Butler.
“There were other camps that we could partner with and start the Community Baseball League at Flamingo Park on Carmichael Road because we wanted to use all of our resources to reach out to more young people.”
Butler said he hopes they can be part of the negotiations on anything to commemorate Armbrister because they are well aware of his commitment and dedication to the young people of the Bahamas.
Armbrister did all of this after returning home from his Major League game. He was just one of seven Bahamians to play at the highest level in the sport, but the only one to win two world titles with Cincinnati from 1972 to 1976, when the Reds also captured three pennants.
He was a utility player for the Reds, better known as the Big Red Machine. Best remembered, he successfully ran a controversial Bunt in the tenth inning of the 1975 World Series third game.
At the time, Carlton Fisk, the catcher of the Boston Red Sox, argued that Armbrister interfered with his pursuit of the Bunt, which moved teammates Cesar Geronimo from first to third base, bringing Armbrister to second place with Fisk’s throwing error.
Three batters later, Joe Morgan’s single to center Geronimo scored and the Reds won the game 6-5 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Long-time baseball manager Athama Bowe, who also spoke during the service, said Armbrister’s name has been revived everywhere he goes as a Bahamian in the Major League.
Bowe formulated Armbrister’s initials in his name as ERA (Earned Run Average), who went to the United States to showcase the Bahamas and make some money.
He said the bunt could easily have been called the Nassau Street slide, now you’re seeing it, not now because it worked for Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who dived across the finish line for her Olympic gold medal.
“Ed was silent,” said Bowe. “God brought us here to change the lives of others and not be caught up in ourselves. So I got close to him to find out a few things about him. “
Armbrister was the last of the early group of five baseball players who later played for the majors. His death follows the departure of Andre Rodgers, Tony Curry, Wenty Ford and Wilfred Culmer.
The only remaining major league baseball players are Antoan Richardson, who played for both the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees and is now the first coach of the Miami Marlins along with Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm, who plays for the San Francisco Giants.
Social Services Secretary Frankie Campbell, who also paid tribute, said Armbrister left a legacy as a reputation and name for his family. “We can say that this afternoon without fear or protest because Ed lived a full life, three points and ten plus two,” he said.
“He had an opportunity many only dream of.
“After we are in the spotlight, we can still remember him as a humble gentleman walking through the Sunset Park community. I hear he was silent, but I may have messed him up a bit. He said, ‘You and your people moved my baseball things. Get her back so I can take care of my people. ‘“
On behalf of the government and the people of the Bahamas, Campbell said that Armbrister had lived a life that made everyone proud and that his life would inspire young people to do more because of the bar he set.
Though he didn’t speak, longtime baseball / softball player Roosevelt Archer said one of the best ways the Bahamas can remember Armbrister’s name is by taking the road from West Bay Street to Round-a-Bout on Thompson Boulevard renamed Ed Armbrister Boulevard because it covered the area he grew up in in Harlem and made a name for himself as a baseball legend.
After the service, Armbrister’s body was interred in a private ceremony on Saturday in the mausoleums of Lakeview Memorial Gardens.
He leaves his wife Rosella and the children Dr. Phyllis Armbrister, Dionne Armbrister, Alexis Armbrister, and Edda Armbrister-Davis, as well as a host of family members and friends. May his soul rest in peace.