Many people in their 40s are well out of school and pursing their dreams. But when Ed Doney came to Webster University to pursue a degree in jazz studies in the spring of 1996, he not only played the saxophone, he also played baseball for the Gorloks. He was the oldest NCAA baseball player that year at 44 years old.
“My wife says college was the biggest fantasy camp I could have had,” Doney said. “It’s like playing for one of those Cardinal legend camps or something.”
Doney’s college baseball career started in January 1996 — completely by accident. Doney said he heard the baseball team didn’t have enough players and went to talk to first-year head coach Marty Hunsucker. Doney said he offered to help out by hitting pop-ups and fly balls if needed. But he got an offer much better than that.
As a child, Doney had only played shortstop and second base, but the coaches at Webster wanted him to pitch.
“They (the team) were practicing at, like, 6 o’clock in the morning in the gym, and I was sitting and watching practice the first time and the coach told the kids I was a scout,” Doney said. “I thought it would be hard to get in that kind of shape, but I thought I’d give it a whack.”
At Normandy High School in Wellston, Mo., Doney played B-team baseball his sophomore year. He graduated from Normandy in 1970. With his new team at Webster in ‘96, he quickly realized it was harder to get back in the game.
“It killed me for about three weeks,” Doney said. “I was having a hard time walking up the stairs the first couple weeks because I wasn’t in shape to be playing ball with college kids.”
The coach taught Doney how to throw a splitter and a changeup. With his new arsenal of pitches, Doney was a relief pitcher for the Gorloks from 1996 to 2000. Doney took a semester off from school in 1999, so he didn’t play that season. Doney said his main job was filling in holes, or to be an “innings-eater.” Doney said he had some games where he got his “brains beat around.”
However, Doney recalls starting six games for the Gorloks in his three seasons with Webster. While he didn’t win many, he did win one. He remembers the date perfectly — April 28, 1998, against St. Louis Christian College — because he has it written on a baseball in his home in the Lake of the Ozarks. The score was 10-0 in favor of the Gorloks, and it stands as Doney’s only collegiate win.
The first year Doney played, he said he thought they should have been the Blackbirds instead of the Gorloks because of their 4-20 record. But progress was being made because Doney said Webster was third in the league the last year he played, and won the conference championship the year after.
Baseball isn’t Doney’s only passion, with jazz music being another love of his. He worked as a musician in St. Louis for years. He worked for Ralph Butler and Buffalo Bob and The Bedroom Blues Band, and multiple others. One of the places he got to play was Busch Stadium with Butler at a convention that was held there. Doney said it was interesting to be on the field after spending so much time in the stands.
Now he spends his time doing a regular jazz gig once a week at the age of 60, but he still has memories of his time as a Gorlok.
“I still have my jersey (No. 44),” Doney said. “They don’t usually (let you keep it), but he (Hunsucker) did me a favor and let me have it.”