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  • Ed Crane | Alcohol & Sedative Overdose Death

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    Edward Crane Baseball Card-Ed Crane | Alcohol & Sedative Overdose Death

    Ed Crane, once a major league baseball favorite, was a legendary but ultimately tragic figure who died from a sedative and alcohol overdose in 1896.

    How Ed Crane Died

    By the end of Ed Crane’s career, his out-of-control drinking and physical deterioration due to hard-pitching and overeating meant he was despondent and effectively unemployable.

    At only 34, Crane spent the final weeks of his life separated from his wife and young child, traveling the country and drinking hard, looking for odd jobs. 

    In September of 1896, he was staying in a Rochester, New York, hotel room and was given notice by staff that he would have to vacate it the next day. His heavy drinking and gloomy disposition were noted by staff.

    The next day, Crane was found dead in his bed, with his death attributed to an excessive dose of the sedative drug chloral hydrate, which he had been taking for nervousness.

    Even as condolences poured in, debate swirled as to whether his death was an accidental interaction between the sedative drug and alcohol, or if it was suicide.

    About Ed Crane

    Edward Nicholas Crane, nicknamed Cannonball, was born in Boston, Massachusetts as the youngest of ten children. He began his professional athletic career out of high school in 1884 with the Boston Reds of the Union Association. 

    In his rookie year, the hard-throwing right-handed pitcher and outfielder played 101 games, rising to the top of most batting categories with 12 home runs.

    Crane then moved to the National League, playing 14 games for the Providence Grays and Buffalo Bisons in 1885, and 80 games for the Washington Nationals in 1886. 

    His performance, however, was ultimately disappointing and Crane moved to Canada to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1887.

    Maple Leafs

    Crane’s move saw him surge to a new professional high. North of the border, he enjoyed a tremendous season during which he achieved the highest ever batting average by a pitcher in professional baseball, .428, and led the Leafs to their first International League pennant.

    New York Giants

    From 1888 to 1889, Crane played for the New York Giants and became the first player in the team’s history to throw a no-hitter, and the first player in major league history to strike out four batters in one inning.

    In 1889, Crane pitched in 29 games with a 14-10 record and earned a run average of 2.43. 

    At the World Series, he was hailed as a hero, starting in five games, winning four, and pitching 38 innings with a 3.79 ERA. He also had 5 RBIs, a .611 slugging percentage, and scored 3 runs.

    According to an October 1889 newspaper account in The World, “Ed Crane, fat and jolly, went into the pitcher’s box for New York… Ed shot them in with terrific speed and brought joy to the New Yorkers, who saw the Grooms succumb, one after another, to his invincible ‘curves’ and ‘shoots’.”

    Later Career & Alcoholism

    After his World Series performance, Crane joined The Spalding World Tour, a promotional tournament that took America’s most famous baseball players around the world to exhibition games in Egypt, Italy, France, England, Ireland and the United States.

    Crane had previously avoided alcohol, but during this trip he developed a taste first for champagne and later for hard liquor. And as the tour ended, Crane’s alcohol consumption increased rapidly.

    Crane would join the New York Giants as part of the Player’s League, a competing baseball league formed in 1890. However, his performance dropped off steeply as his weight and drinking increased.

    In 1891 Crane would play for Kelly’s Killers, leading the American Association with a 2.45 ERA, and for the Cincinnati Reds. 

    His last major league seasons would come in 1892 and 1893, splitting time between the Giants and Brooklyn Grooms. 

    Falling back to the minors, his arm and weight in rough shape, Crane would continue playing for Toronto, Providence, Rochester, and then Springfield with his final professional season coming in 1896.

    Recovery Is Possible

    Unlike those of Ed Crane’s time, Americans today have access to professional addiction treatment centers to make recovery possible.

    At Ark Behavioral Health, we are here for you with leading treatment options that include medical detox, inpatient and outpatient care, mental health counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and other evidence-based services.

    To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    BR Bullpen - Ed Crane
    Society for American Baseball Research - Ed Crane

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