Edward “Shovels” Kobesky

About This Inductee

Born in 1916, Ed Kobesky played 15 years in the minor leagues and managed for four.  He hit .300 8 times, including back-to-back seasons of .390 in 1948-1949.  He hit 15 or more home runs 6 times.  His most impressive run came in AAA during World War II when he averaged over 24 home runs for the 1942-1944 Buffalo Bisons.  In 1944, he hit .328 with 26 HR and 129 RBI for his best season in the high minors.  He also led the 1943 International League with 18 home runs.

Born in 1913, he picked up his nickname as a child wandering about with a pail and tiny shovels.  He grew up playing baseball in the outfield, first base and catching.  Following high school and semi-pro ball, Shovels joined the bearded House of David barnstorming team.  He became player/manager for the 1940 Eastern Shore League Cardinals, leading the team with 18 home runs and helping the team to victory in the playoffs.  Promoted to Class A Elmira for 1941, he hit .289 with a career high 11 triples and several massive homers over Elmira’s left center-field fence.  The Bisons purchased his contract for spring training 1942.  Shovels homered in each of the next two contests.  But by August 2, Bison manager Al Vincent (a stern taskmaster) fined and suspended Shovels for “persistent insubordination.”  The details have been lost to history, but Ed was used sparingly thereafter, finishing the season with 19 HR, 75 RBI and .291 average.  Kobesky returned to the Bisons in 1943.  He led the international league with 18 home runs.  His most important run batted in of the season (88 total) came on an 11 – inning single to drive home the only run in Rufus Gentry’s April 25 no-hitter.  Shovels’ average dropped to .255.  After Buck Harris took over the Bisons in 1944, Shovels responded with the greatest slugging season of his career.  He finished second in HR (236) and RBI (129).  His .328 was third in batting average.  Shovel’s held out in spring training 1945.  Harris responded by trading him to the American Associate Milwaukee Brewers.  This marked the end of Kobesky’s Buffalo days and the beginning of a three-year tailspin.  Shovels only hit .197 in 1945 and four home runs.  Catching for New Jersey (International League) he broke his hand in the second game of the 1946 season, colliding with Jackie Robinson in the batter’s box as he attempted to throw out a Montreal base runner.  He lost the whole year.  A dissatisfying 1947 followed.  Ed rebounded in 1948 assuming a player/manager role.  With the Class B New Brunswick/Kingston Hubs he led the league in hitting (.390) and added 17 round trippers.  Serious illness led to the decreased playing time but Kobesky managed a .486 average and nine home runs with the Indians in 1950 and slugged .390 in his final 1951 campaign.  The last home run of his career was struck on June 1, 1951, a bottom of the ninth, base loaded, pinch hit grand slam.  Batavia won 8 to 7.  By August 2 advanced lung cancer forced Shovels to leave the club but he returned almost immediately and saw the season to its conclusion from the bench.  Shovels died at age 38 on August 14, 1952 at his home in Greenwood, PA.  A testimonial was held in his home borough of Moosic, where a ball playing field was named in his honor.  The class A PONY league established the Kobesky Award.  Biographical information attributed to a news article by sportswriter Howard Henry.  Shovels is survived by his son, Edward Leonard and his wife, Elaine, and their son, Edward John.