Ed Bouchee spent more time in the Army (1953-54) than he did in a
New York Mets uniform, but to the fans of the beloved yet inept 1962 Metsies,
he will always be remembered.
Bouchee passed away on January 23 at age 79. One of only 23 men born
in the state of Montana
ever to play in the major leagues, Bouchee had a fine rookie season with the
1957 Phillies. The freshman first baseman played the full 154-game
schedule, finishing with 17 homers, a .293 BA, .394 OBP and .870 OPS. All
that garnered him only second place in the Rookie of the Year voting, as he
lost out to 19-game winner and teammate Jack Sanford. The Sporting News, however,
did name him as their top Rookie.
The following off-season was not the accolade-filled joy ride you might
imagine after such a debut. In January 1958, Bouchee was arrested for,
and in March of that year plead guilty to, two charges of indecent exposure
involving children. He was placed on three years probation and sent to the Institute of Living
in Hartford, Connecticut to receive medical treatment for
what a psychiatrist called "compulsive exhibitionism".
Then MLB Commissioner Ford Frick suspended Bouchee. He was reinstated
in July 1958, but by then the Topps Company, which had already assigned
his card #145 canceled printing it. Still a few copies were distributed. That
rare card has now become a highly valued collectible.
!959 saw Bouchee put together a season similar to his rookie year, but his
run production began to decline steadily each season. He was traded to
the Chicago Cubs in May of 1960 along with pitcher Don Cardwell, who proceeded
to throw a no-hitter in his Cubs debut.
Following the 1961 season, the Cubs left Bouchee exposed to the National League
expansion draft. The New York Mets made him their 30th pick. Bouchee
walked as the franchises' first pinch-hitter in the first ever game in Mets history. Despite his own belief that he should be playing regularly, Bouchee sat behind Gil Hodges at first base. He voiced his displeasure to Manager Casey Stengel, only to see his
career end in late July when the 26-76 at the time Mets released the .161
BBTF reports that Bouchee passed away Wednesday in Arizona after several weeks of
hospitalization due to the effects of diabetes.