Hi friends. For the second time in a couple of weeks, I would use a black border on this blog if I had one. Last month it was the Toy Cannon, Jimmy Wynn. With this site temporarily unavailable then, Only my legion of Facebook followers read about his passing. Last night, the baseball world and Chicago White Sox fans in particular lost play-by-play broadcaster Ed Farmer. He’d been dealing with kidney disease, the sort of thing that troubled Ed Kranepool for so many years. Last night, Farmer lost his battle.
You wouldn’t see an obituary for Ed Farmer based on his baseball career, though he toiled in the bigs for a dozen years. He was with the Phillies before_ they got good in the 1970’s and after_ their World Championship year of 1980. He joined the Tigers the year after_ they won the Eastern Division of the American League, and was an Oriole two years before their World Series appearance in 1979. He also spent time with the Indians, White Sox and Brewers when none of them were close to getting anywhere. His ERA was north of 4.0 before that became acceptable. Just once, while a member of the White Sox, he was named an All-Star. That was in 1980, a season marked by Farmer being decked by the Tigers’ Al Cowens. This was Cowens’ revenge for Farmer hitting him with a pitch that broke Cowens’ jaw the year before.
Farmer is now mourned by millions because He spent 28 years broadcasting for the White Sox. For the first 14 of those seasons, ending in 2005, he was the color commentator working with John Rooney. Cardinals’ fans will tell you Rooney is solid as they come, and if Farmer needed to learn from somebody, Rooney was the guy. At the peak of his powers, after the White Sox swept the Astros in the 2005 World Series, Rooney moved on.
With his teacher gone to St. Louis, Farmer became the White Sox’ play-by-play man which he was through the end of last season. Though he had to be spelled for some 30 games in 2019, the last time I heard him the man sounded as good as he ever had, even though the game was a 15-inning marathon.
Like any Chicago broadcaster worth his salt, the south side native made it perfectly clear where his rooting interests lay. Back in the 1950’s, Cubs’ broadcaster Bert Wilson spelled it out: “I don’t care who wins–just as long as it’s the Cubs!” Name a Chicago announcer from Wilson through Jack Brickhouse, Jack Quinlan, Harry Caray, on down to Ed Farmer, and I’ll show you a man who wore his fanhood on his sleeve. I loved listening to him because, like Pat Hughes on Cubs’ games, you knew who was ahead in short order once you brought in the signal. Since he had been a player, he had the right to get after the players if they played badly, as the White Sox so often did. On the other hand, Farmer was the play-by-play man on two perfect games, both times with his team winning. The first came in 2009 when Mark Buehrle (pronounced Burly) whitewashed the Tampa Bay Rays 5–0. 3 years later, the White Sox’ Philip Humber (pronounced UmBer) did the nearly impossible, firing a perfecto at the Mariners. The Pale Hose came out ahead by a score of 4–0 in Seattle that day. Before this delayed season, there was a lot of talk about how 2020 wouldn’t be just another miserable season on the south side of Chicago. Whatever the White Sox may accomplish when there is a new baseball season, their broadcaster will be smiling down on them.
R I P Ed Farmer.