Page 41 - Salem Magazine Spring 2014
P. 41

 Marcum is an avid baseball fan who has been spewing trivia and collecting memorabilia related to the history of America’s pastime his entire life. He is now the President of Roanoke-based Access Advertising, but back in the late 1980s and early 1990s he and his good friend Kim Clark owned and operated the Trading Block, a successful baseball card shop in the Wasena area of Roanoke.
The Hillerich and Bradsby Company has been making signature bats for professional players with their names literally burned into the wooden barrels of the bats since 1905 when Honus Wagner gave the company permission to use his autograph on their bats. That day, Epperly sold his signature Edmead bat for $100.
Storm Water Survey
  from a skull fracture and massive brain injuries. He was taken to Lewis Gale Hospital where he was officially pronounced dead, although many of the players in that game believe he died in right field. Cruz reportedly was wearing one of the steel knee braces that were very common in that era. Edmead’s head hit the metal part of the brace at full speed, giving him almost no chance of surviving the collision.
The tragic accident occurred just one day after he was named to the Carolina League all-star team, and since it was the first on- the-field death in professional baseball since the 1920s, it even made news in the September 2, 1974 edition of Sports Illustrated.
“It’s a relatively unknown and obscure story, but there will always be an interest in the weird and the unusual things that happen on the field, because they are very, very rare,” says Todd Marcum. “It will always be a footnote in the game of professional baseball.”
 Kim Clark and Marcum owned the Trading Block in the late 1980s.
One day, a longtime Salem baseball fan named Rich Epperly showed up at the shop looking to sell Clark a piece of local history, the actual bat that Edmead had in the dugout on that fateful night.
“Rich had specifically sought out Kim because he knew he appreciated local sports items as much as anyone, and Rich wanted someone to have the bat who would cherish it as much as he did,” says Marcum.
Todd Marcum holds the bat Alfredo Edmead likely used the night he died at Municipal Field on August 22, 1974.
“Kim bought this bat as a keepsake and never had any intention of marketing it or selling it, and I plan to do the same,” says Marcum.
And that brings us to the explanation of how Marcum ended up with a huge piece of Salem baseball history. Clark, himself, died way too soon, passing in January of 2011 from complications caused by Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was just 52.
His widow, Bonnie, asked Marcum to liquidate her late husband’s extensive collection of sports memorabilia to help
create a college fund for their daughter. She also mandated that Marcum keep a few things for himself as a way of honoring his longtime friend and former business partner.
 “Someone living in Sheboygan would have a marginal interest in the bat at best, but for me it is a legitimate piece of the valley’s baseball heritage and something that should be revered,” says Marcum. “Most importantly, the bat is something that will always give me a direct connection to Kim.”
And that makes it a signature piece of any friendship, as well as a signature part of Salem’s rich baseball history.
Edmead takes a swing while friend Pablo Cruz stands on deck.
                               www.salemva.gov | SPRING 2014
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