Gibbs High graduate Ed Charles, a key member of the 1969 Mets championship team, died at his New York home on Thursday at age 84.
Charles was the third baseman and unofficial poet laureate of the popular Mets team.
Charles was born on April 29, 1933, in Daytona Beach, as one of nine children in what Newsday described as splintered family, and moved to St. Petersburg to spend his teenage years living with relatives and attending Gibbs High School.
Charles talked about the impact of getting to see Jackie Robinson play during spring training in both the Daytona and Tampa Bay areas. As he started his own playing career, Charles had to deal with some of the social issues of those times himself, having to stay with black families while white teammates stayed in segregated hotels.
Charles made it to the majors in 1962 with Kansas City as a 29-year-old rookie and played well there for 5 1/2 seasons before being traded to the Mets. Known as well for his poetry and smooth work in the field – earning the nickname Glider – Charles played a key role for the Mets.
His final game before retiring was when the Mets clinched the Series in Game 5 over Baltimore. He went on to work as a scout and in community relations for the Mets, and also for the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice.
The Mets released the following statement:
"Ed Charles, our beloved Glider and Poet Laureate of the 1969 Mets, was one of the kindest and warmest people ever to be a Met. His essays and poems inspired his teammates to the improbable World Series championship. With Jackie Robinson as his role model, Ed perpetuated a legacy of making a positive impact on other people's lives. Everyone at the Mets are sending condolences, thoughts and prayers to Ed's longtime companion Lavonnie Brinkley, his two sons Edwin and Eric, sister Virginia Charles and brother Elder."
Information from Newsday was used in this report.