Ex-O's trainer 'Doc' Weidner dies at 92

August 03, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Edward P. Weidner Jr., who spent 52 years with the Baltimore Orioles, most of that time as the trainer who massaged, soothed and treated the players, died last night at his Towson home.

Mr. Weidner, who had celebrated his 92nd birthday July 15, died from complications of aging, his family said.

In a career that spanned five decades, he traveled some 750,000 miles by land, sea and air, ministering to the aches, pains and injuries -- both physical and psychological -- of thousands of players.

"He is the custodian of the little room known as 'Misery Hall,' where he has his rubbing table, baking lamps, tape, bandages, liniments and dozens of other items necessary to the care of the team's players and where their pains and aches are healed," said a 1941 article in The Evening Sun.

When he began his career as trainer in 1922, he carried his liniment, alcohol, iodine, gauze, tape and some aspirin in an orange crate; by the time he retired in 1967, his supplies filled an entire moving van.

Known as "Doc," Mr. Weidner (pronounced Wide-ner) had no formal medical training and attended school only through the sixth grade.

He was "born within a fungo fly" of old Oriole Park at Greenmount Avenue and 29th Street, said a 1960 article in The Sun.

"Dad started to cut school and became a truant and then was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School. They didn't fool around in those days," said Eddie Weidner III, his son, who lives in Burlington, N.C., "and while he was there he became friends with Babe Ruth."

"Babe Ruth was the best I ever saw," Mr. Weidner said in a 1955Evening Sun interview. "He could run, throw, and hit -- and what more could you ask for than a fellow like that?"

After working as an apprentice carpenter, he began hanging around Oriole Park in 1915 when Walter Fewster, then the trainer, asked if he wanted to handle the scoreboard one day.

"I said I'd try it and that was the easiest job in the world in those days. All you had to do was hang the numbers up on the board each inning, and most of them were zeros," he told The Sun in 1964, "because back then they didn't hit the long ball."

He then went to work in the clubhouse and after Fewster joined the Army during World War I, he started filling in as a trainer.

In 1923, he became trainer full time -- beginning a career that stretched from the days of legendary Oriole manager Jack Dunn to the days of Hank Bauer, who ran the team when Mr. Weidner retired in 1967.

Ralph Salvon, who joined him as assistant trainer in 1966 and became team trainer after Mr. Weidner's retirement, died in 1988.

Mr. Weidner was credited with several innovations in player treatment. "He used to soak cabbage leaves in 'Florida Water,' which is ammoniated water," said his son, "to help keep the players cool back in the days of woolen uniforms and hats. Some of the players even applied the leaves to their head and then put their hats on top.

"While on a Montreal road trip in 1922, he needed some ice and he couldn't find any. After looking around, he decided to us ethyl chloride rather than the ice to freeze a bruise and it became a mainstay of his army of weapons," said the son.

"He noticed that his players were getting an awful lot of blisters on their hands and suggested that they try using golfing gloves, which led to the development of the batting glove," Mr. Weidner said. "He also conducted experiments with batting helmets back in the 1930s and 1940s.

"He was very good at diagnosing problems, even though he had a little trouble with the Latin, which he always pronounced in a strictly Baltimorese fashion," the son said.

Mr. Weidner was known as a clubhouse philosopher and his wry observations -- not necessarily about baseball -- often broke up his listeners.

"He had an unconscious sense of humor that was filled with a lot of down-home colloquialisms," said Bob Brown, currently editor of the Oriole Gazette, who was formerly director of public relations for the Orioles.

"He'd say such things as, 'The tide comes in and the tide goes out and after that what do you have? Sand' or 'A frog falls off a log but you never hear of a log falling off a frog.' "

"The last time I saw Eddie was about 10 years ago when I was jogging on York Road," recalled John Steadman, Evening Sun sports columnist.

"He was a great walker and I said, 'Hey, Eddie, do you have the time?' He replied, 'I don't wear a watch. I'm retired.'

"A little-known fact is, that when Paul 'Bear' Bryant coached the Maryland football team back in 1945 for a year, Eddie went down there as trainer after the end of the baseball season.

"He was the hardest-working employee the Orioles ever had and made more money in retirement than the Orioles ever paid him, which is a tribute to the Major League Baseball Players Association," Mr. Steadman said.

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