The last remaining Bahamian major leaguer from the golden era for sports in The Bahamas has passed.
Ed Armbrister, a two-time World Series Champion with the Cincinnati Reds, and a member of third class of The Bahamas’ National Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, died around 5 p.m. yesterday at his home in Sunset Park off Carmichael Road, after a prolonged battle with diabetes. He was 72.
Armbrister was the third of seven Bahamians to be called up to Major League Baseball (MLB), making his debut with the Reds on August 31, 1973 at the age of 25. He enjoyed a five-year career with the Reds, turning in a batting average of .245 with four home runs and 19 runs batted in (RBIs). He had 65 career hits and scored 46 runs in his five-year career. Armbrister’s best season came in 1976, when he batted .295 with two home runs and seven RBIs in limited action as a utility player, but helping the Reds win their second consecutive world series title.
The year before, Armbrister became known for the controversial sacrifice bunt he successfully laid down in the bottom of the 10th inning of game three of the World Series, moving César Gerónimo over to third base and helping the Reds win that game, 6-5, for a two-games-to-one lead in the series. The Boston Red Sox unsuccessfully argued for an interference call. The Reds went on to win the series four games to three over the Red Sox, giving Armbrister his first of two successive World Series titles with the Reds. He also has three National League pennants with the Reds.
“On behalf of the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) and my family, I wish to offer my sincere condolences to family and friends of Ed Armbrister,” said Sam Rodgers yesterday, president of the BBA. “I know that he wasn’t feeling well but because of COVID and other factors, I didn’t get around to see him in his final days and hours. Ed was not only one of our finest baseball players, he was a significant contributor to the development of baseball in the country, particularly in the inner city. His passion was with the
inner-city kids and the Community Baseball League. That’s where he made his greatest contribution to the development of baseball in The Bahamas. He always wanted to assist. He will be missed by me as a friend and by the baseball community of The Bahamas. I just want to encourage his family and friends to be strong in these trying times.”
Now, there are just two remaining Bahamian major leaguers – Antoan Richardson who received his call-up with the Atlanta Braves in 2011, and Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm who broke through with the Miami Marlins last year. Andre Rodgers was the pacesetter with the New York Giants, now San Francisco Giants, in 1957. Anthony “Tony” Curry made his debut with the Phillies in 1960. Armbrister followed Curry and was one of two Bahamians to be called up in 1973. Wenty Ford made his debut with the Atlanta Braves in September of 1973. Wilfred “Sudgy” Culmer was called up to the Cleveland Indians in 1983.
Former New Providence Amateur Baseball League (NPABL) President Jeff Francis, who played with Armbrister in the New Providence Old Timers Softball Association (NPOTSA), and who was coached by Armbrister in the Nassau Baseball League, said he became close to the former major leaguer in his later years and always enjoyed communicating with him.
“We spoke many times, always talking about baseball and life in general,” said a distraught Francis. “He was a good friend. Many times, after games he would ride with me and we would talk about the game and other aspects of baseball. Condolences to his family on behalf of the KC Raiders team, the TCBY Waffle Cones, the Silver Sharks and the baseball community.”
The KC Raiders and the TCBY Waffle Cones played in the Nassau Baseball League while the Silver Sharks was one of the teams in the NPOTSA.
Armbrister was one of two coaches for TCBY to pass away in the last two years, joining Anthony “Poker” Huyler who died early in 2020.
Armbrister, who was a utility player and outfielder with the Reds, was said to possess all of the tools to excel in baseball. He was signed by the Houston Astros as an amateur free agent in 1967, and after four years in that club’s farm system, he was acquired by the Reds along with four others that helped transform the Reds into the juggernaut known as the “Big Red Machine” that would dominate the National League for the next five seasons.
Armbrister played his last game in the majors in 1977 and officially retired four years later. Only Rodgers thrived in Major League Baseball for a period longer than Armbrister, enjoying an 11-year MLB career with three different organizations.
In the workforce here in The Bahamas, Armbrister was a craps table croupier at Resorts International’s Paradise Island Casino, also worked in local government and consumer affairs, and was a consultant in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. Armbrister also managed a Bahamian junior national team in baseball.
Armbrister, who helped pave the way for so many aspiring young baseball players including his brothers and nephews, will be missed by the baseball community of The Bahamas, and the sporting fraternity in general. He is survived by his wife and two daughters and other family members.