16 QUEENS CENTERS FOR PROGRESS SUMMER OF ’69 GALA
In memory of Mr. Ed Charles - “The Glider”
Ed “The Glider” Charles was the former third baseman for the Kansas City Athletes and the
NY Mets. In the 1969 season after seven seasons in ninth and tenth place the Mets clinched
the division championship. Ed Charles played in four of the five games in the World Series
in which the Mets defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. After losing the first
game, the Mets won the next four. Mr. Charles scored the winning run in game two. And
the rest, they say, is history!
But to Queens Centers for Progress, Mr. Charles was so much more. From the moment he
agreed to be the honoree at QCP’s 2011 Gala, Mr. Charles would visit QCP on multiple
occasions to play Mets trivia with the adults in our Day Habilitation Program, hand out
Mets items to the kids in QCP’s Children’s Center and to sign any items that were
presented to him. He was loved by staff and the individuals we serve. On one visit, he
joyfully shared his World Series Ring with anyone who asked about it, allowing them to
try it on.
Mr. Charles would volunteer to attend QCP events to sign baseballs and memorabilia to help
raise additional funds for our programs. He would sit and sign items until we had to drag
him up to receive his “award” and recognition when we honored him. He graced us with his
eloquence and shared his poetry and writings with us. He loved to talk about the early days
and from where his inspiration came. He inspired us and brought joy to everyone at QCP.
Mr. Charles made it to QCP’s events even though his health was failing and continued to
visit QCP’s Centers. A humble, soft-spoken gentleman, Mr. Charles was a true friend and
supporter of QCP. We cannot think of any better way than to celebrate his life and legacy than here, where our
friendship began, at QCP’s Annual Gala. You cannot celebrate the Summer of ’69 without recognizing this
historic event, and we could not celebrate this historic event without remembering Mr. Charles.
Rest in peace, dear friend.
Thank you to the Queens Centers for Progress for honoring Ed Charles.
Ed believed in community – in the clubhouse but also where he lived, however it was
In this 50th anniversary season of the magic year of 1969, Ed’s family and friends have
been touched by the frequent mentions of Ed as a catalyst, a common bond, in the Mets’
clubhouse. So many of the Mets, the people who were around the club, have recalled how
Ed was an influence, subtle or overt.
In times of stress, on or off the field, Ed had a smile, a word, a joke, or sometimes a serious but short sentence,
to move things forward. Ron Swoboda and others describe how Ed could defuse a problem, just by telling
younger players, “It’s all right, Big Guy,” or some other tension-breaker.
He felt the same way about the broader community. After his playing days ended, he settled in the borough of
Queens, the home of the Mets, but also the home of a dear relative, and the place where he felt at home.
As a child of Queens, who grew up a mile from 164th St., and attended the late and lamented
Jamaica High School, I am proud that Queens is known as one of the most diverse places in
the United States – or anywhere. The languages, the food, the clothing, the ways of doing
things, are so varied, yet people in Queens mostly get along. Ed knew that progress was not
automatic, that people and groups had to put some effort into living day by day. Particularly
for people with developmental problems, there must be services, not just from government
or medical centers but from people in the community banding together to help, one way or
He did what he could, showing up, being himself, offering quiet advice or example. He was Ed Charles, being
Ed Charles, more poet than activist or specialist, but he tried to be “there.”
A lot of us miss Ed. That was clear at the services for Ed in 2018, and now during the 50th anniversary of the
Mets’ amazing championship, which ended with Ed leaping through the air, celebrating (his last play in baseball.)
But it did not end there. Ed loved New York, and his home borough of Queens, and we are sure he would
be backing the further contributions of your fine organization.
George Vecsey (Retired New York Times sports columnist, who was “there” in 1969)