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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Eddie Mathews played basketball in college, not baseball; But he threw hard, like 90 mph hard

Eddie Mathews 1990 Sumter Braves card, Mathews posed catching
Eddie Mathews didn't do a lot of the things professional baseball players did before turning pro. But he did throw hard, like 90 mph hard, according to The Sumter Item.

Mathews didn't play baseball at Bradley University, he played basketball. He signed on with a baseball team after college, the Peoria Chiefs, as an assistant general manager, not as a player. But he did play in a local Sunday morning league. That's where he got noticed, The Item wrote.

"The Angels coach heard I was throwing near 90 and asked me to come out and let him get a look," Mathews told The Item later. "Some of the brass was there and they said they wanted to sign me for the next season."

Mathews soon found himself signed by a different team, the Braves. He went on to a pro career where he played seven seasons. He never made the majors, but he did make AAA.

Mathews' career began with the Braves in 1984 in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He got 15 outings and turned in a 2.35 ERA.

Mathews returned to the GCL for 1985. He also saw brief time at single-A Durham. He picked up five wins and a 2.09 ERA between them.

He played at single-A Sumter in 1986 and saw AA Greenville. He picked up a tough-luck, 1-0 loss in a June game, then a complete-game win the next month. Overall, he went 8-9, with a 4.56 ERA.

Mathews played most of 1987 at AA Greenville, then all of 1988 there. He went 10-4 in relief, with a 1.72 ERA at Greenville in 1988. He also saved 15 games. In between, he served as a stand-in for Tim Robbins during the filming of "Bull Durham."

He made AAA Richmond for 36 outings in 1989, ending with a 3.88 ERA. He then played one more season, 10 outings between Sumter and Durham in 1990, ending his career.

Mathews has since gone on to return to his first game, basketball. By 2015, he'd served more than a dozen years between local Peoria-area schools Notre Dame and Limestone. Upon his move to Limestone in 2011, a rival coach could only praise him to The Peoria Journal Star.

"Eddie's a class guy, close friend and a really good basketball coach," the other coach, Jim Youngman, told The Journal Star. "I'm excited about it ... I think he definitely helps our league be even better."
Eddie Mathews 1990 Sumter Braves card, Mathews posed catching
1990 Minor League Tally  
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,366
Made the Majors: 975-41.2%
Never Made Majors:1,391-58.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 407
10+ Seasons in the Minors:244

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