Edward Patrick McCarthy

Edward Patrick McCarthy

Died January 30, 1965

Ed’s tragic death in a car accident in Greenfield, MA, on January 30, 1965 stunned Yale, so soon was it after he led the 1964 varsity football team to a 6-2-1 seasonal record. Ed and two other Yalies were on a ski trip to Vermont when their vehicle hit a snowbank and then a large tree; the others sustained only minor injuries.

Known as Mr. Ed, after the laidback talking horse on a popular television show of that era, he prepared for Yale at Fairfield College Preparatory School in Fairfield, CT. Ed was the starting quarterback there in 1959-60 and was named by the to the All-State Team after the 1960 season, in which he passed for 11 touchdowns as Fairfield Prep won all 10 of its games. On the Yale campus he resided in Trumbull, majored in both mathematics and economics and was a member of Book and Snake. Ed earned major Ys in both varsity football and varsity lacrosse.

A February 3, 1965 article by classmates published in the Yalie Daily soon after Ed’s death, entitled Memoriam, said: “Those around him felt his character. Yes, that’s another one of those indefineables, but if you asked those who knew Ed to tell about ‘character,’ they’d stop for a minute and say that, although they might not know what it was, Ed had it…on one of his (law school) applications, he had to answer the question of what were his outstanding tributes and achievements. He didn’t know what to say because he felt that there weren’t really any outstanding achievements that he had made, and that the question as such was irrelevant. He was partly right. What he did was important, but it was made more outstanding because of what he was. And that’s something they don’t explain in the news stories.”

He was a quarterback, and his comment to a rather irate coach, Gib Holgate, during a game our freshman year (after throwing a couple of interceptions), “Well coach, some days you’ve got it, and some days you don’t,” resonates among many who knew him. That was vintage Ed, calm, quiet but self-assured. He knew Greek, and studied hard, and was really a scholar-athlete when that term had meaning.

The Yale football coach in 1965, Carmine Cozza, said, “He was a leader in his own right.”

John Pont, Cozza’s predecessor, remembered “when the Yale boys came to wish me luck, Ed was their spokesman. We kidded each other often and he got the last word when he gave me a book, Offensive Football’ by Jordan Olivar (Pont’s predecessor)…It’s a funny world. He was going to go to law school and then join his father’s firm. But before I left New Haven, he told me it was all off. He was going with the Peace Corps for two years. That’s the kind he was. He knew the value of sacrifice.”

Ed was survived by his father, Edward J. McCarthy, Yale Law ’28, mother, Laura, brother, John, Y’69, and sister, Judith.

Robert Herbst remembers: One of the nicest men I have ever known. I once was explaining something or other to him, and he very gently and indirectly told me I was full of baloney. He taught me something about myself that day.

William Wheeler remembers: Easy Ed, you were the greatest freshman roommate, always able to reassure me I would live through this exam or that paper despite my panic. I still remember and thank you.

David Hawkins remembers: Ed was a kind and gentle soul. He would have been a great man. Such a shame he left us so young.

Michael McCaskey remembers: One game on a cold, wet and miserable day Ed threw a couple of interceptions. As he trotted off the field after the second one, the freshman coach was beside himself, yelling and screaming, “How could you do that?” and worse. Ed never missed a beat and calmly replied, “Well, coach, some days you got it and some days you don’t.” Ed was a terrific teammate and a wonderful guy. We lost him much too early.

William Quayle remembers: Outstanding person. Friend to all. Great quarterback. Died in freak accident while at Yale. Great loss.

Robert Cook remembers: Ed McCarthy was one of the lead quarterbacks of our Freshman Football team. Ed was friendly to all our players, easy going, hard working and easy to talk with. Toward the end of our season, he and I were discussing some of our better games and plays he had a key part in. He gave me a compliment that I have not forgotten: “If I’m going to throw it to you, I have to decide early because you get out of range so soon (this is necessary in order to “beat my defender”).
A short time later, when my close friend Gerry Doyle related Ed’s passing to me as result of an auto accident after a ski weekend, I felt I had been robbed. Ed is often in my thoughts.