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1930s & Earlier / Eddie Bennett - Baseball Mascot
A hunchback or dwarf was once considered by sports teams to bring good luck. Many professional baseball teams had such a mascot. Hunchbacks were considered particularly lucky. Many players rubbed the mascot's back before batting, believing a hit was sure to follow. Eddie Bennett was such an object of luck, but he also became much more to the teams he worked for. From the beginning of his life, Eddie Bennett seemed to catch bad breaks. A childhood accident left Eddie with a crippling back injury stunting his growth and leaving him hunchbacked and permanently child-sized. His life was further disadvantaged when both his parents perished in the 1918 influenza epidemic. Crippled and orphaned, things looked bleak for the young kid from Flatbush. Eddie was a big baseball fan and frequently hung around the Polo Grounds. Happy Felsch of the Chicago White Sox took notice of the boy. Impressed by his cheery demeanor, the Sox adopted Eddie as their good luck charm. Eddie travelled with the team and they won the 1919 AL pennant. Eddie returned to Brooklyn for the 1920 season--and Brooklyn won the NL pennant that year. During the 1920 World Series, after winning two out of three games at home, the team left Eddie behind when they went on the road to play Cleveland. Without their lucky charm they promptly lost four straight games and the best-of-nine series. Eddie, dejected and offended, left the team in disgust. In 1921 Eddie latched onto the New York Yankees. Although still a good luck charm, Eddie established himself as a true professional batboy. He not only performed the typical duties of batboy, he also handled other tasks, enabling the players to focus on the game. He was a paid employee of the Yankees and took his job very seriously. Eddie ran errands for the players, procured their favorite foods, and became their confidant. Eddie was privy to every rumor and scandal regarding the Yankees during the Roaring Twenties but he kept his mouth shut. When Urban Shocker was suffering from serious heart problems late in his career, he roomed with Eddie. He honored the pitcher's wishes and kept Shocker's health issues from his teammates. Babe Ruth in particular became close to Eddie. Ruth and Bennett would enter the field early in batting practice and perform a comical warmup show. The much larger Ruth would continually throw the ball out of Eddie's reach, eventually backing him up to the backstop. Not one Ruthian homerun went by without Eddie being the first to shake his hand upon touching home plate. If you look at any team picture from 1921 to 1932, there is Eddie, front and center with a big wide grin on his face, the envy of every boy in America. In the 12 seasons Eddie was with the Yankees, they won seven AL pennants and four World Series. All this changed early in 1932 when Ediie was hit by a taxicab, breaking his leg. Due to his other health problems the injury healed slowly. By the end of the year it was clear that Eddie's fragile health was failing. Unable to perform his duties with the Yankees, he was nevertheless financially supported by team owner Jacob Ruppert for his past services to his club. But not being around the team anymore and the severe pain he suffered daily because of the accident took its toll on Eddie. He began drinking heavily. He passed away in 1935 after a three-week bender, surrounded in his room by mounds of priceless memorabilia from his years as baseball's most famous batboy.