Io On August 22, 1974, minor league outfielder Alfredo Edmead of Class-A Salem (Va.) is killed when he collides with a teammate during a game against Rocky Mount. An autopsy will show that Edmead had an unusually thin skull, contributing to his on-the-field death.
A native of the Dominican Republic and one of eleven children, Alfredo Edmead joined the Salem Pirates of the Carolina League as a 17-year-old in 1974. Edmead immediately showed promise, batting .314 with 61 stolen bases and seven homers in 119 games with Salem, a farm club of the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates.
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On August 22, 1974, the Pirates were playing the Rocky Mount Phillies at Salem’s Municipal Stadium. Opposing pitcher Murray Gage-Cole hit a fly ball to short right field. Edmead gave chase, while teammate, second baseman Pablo Cruz drifted back for the play. Edmead collided with Cruz—who, coincidentally, had signed Edmead to his first pro contract as a part-time scout for the Pirates—striking his head on Cruz’s knee, knocking Edmead unconscious.
Phillies pitcher Jim Meerpohl related the incident in an interview in the Sporting News: “Cruz was seated on the ground, rolling up his pant leg, still very much in pain, but then we saw he had a knee brace, the old-fashioned kind with steel braces on each side. That damned steel had been like an axe to Edmead’s head, with his left side of his skull from the frontal lobe across the top to the back of his skull sliced open about three-quarters of an inch and the bleeding was horrific.”
Edmead died an hour later from massive brain trauma and loss of blood at Lewis-Gale Hospital in Salem. At the age of 17, Edmead remains the youngest death of any professional baseball player in history.