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Who Was Ed Block
“By virtue of you coming here and reading this, you are among the compassionate of the world. No higher accolade can be given. Compassion is the soul of all religion. Compassion is the noble way of life, a great guide for the truly noble of heart.”
“Compassion manifests itself in the desire to help one’s fellow man. To be of service, either directly through the contribution of time or money, which is used in a noble way. To work towards alleviating suffering and especially to alleviate the suffering of those who cannot help themselves.”
Ed Block was a hero in many ways. Under General Patton in World War II, he earned a Purple Heart. As an athletic trainer, he was a master in his chosen field. As a person, he was compassionate and giving.
Ed graduated from the University of Missouri with his master's degree in 1937. He initially began his career as a high school athletic trainer/coach in 1938 at Hancock High School in St. Louis, Missouri. After being drafted into the US Army in 1942, Ed advanced from the rank of Private to 1st Lieutenant and earned distinction with General George Patton's Tank Corp during World War II. After discharge from the Army in 1947 he served as Head Athletic Trainer and physical education instructor at Washington University. In 1951, he returned to college and completed his doctorate in rehabilitation and earned a degree in physical therapy from Columbia University.
Ed was the Head Athletic Trainer of the Baltimore Colts from 1954-1977. He was asked to join the team by the legendary coach Weeb Ewbank in 1954 and cared for the team's legendary players of the Colts' glory years of the 50s, 60s and 70s. He was inducted in the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Hall of Fame in 1974.
Upon joining the Baltimore Colts, Ed quickly became synonymous with excellence of care in the early days of the NFL. His ability to keep the Colts together in those early days gave birth to the players of "The Greatest Game Ever Played" – the Colts sudden death win over the NY Giants in 1958. He demonstrated that same level of care through three decades and helped send eight players to the Pro Football Hall of Fame while working for celebrated head coaches Ewbank and Don Shula.
In addition to his accomplishments with the Colts, Ed worked for 13 years as a physical therapist for Kernan's Hospital for Crippled Children, authored numerous papers and was a presenter at several national programs. He also served on NATA's original Athletic Injuries Committee. A Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine, Ed had an extreme interest in research, injury prevention and conditioning. He served as a consultant to NASA, beginning with the original in-space flight training program in 1967. In 1973, Ed started early research on the use of diagnostic ultrasound at Johns Hopkins Hospital for use in evaluating musculoskeletal injuries.
After suffering a massive coronary during training camp in 1978, he was named Athletic Trainer Emeritus by the Baltimore Colts. The players that he cared for during camp saved his life by administering CPR and transporting him to the hospital.
From 1979 to 1983, he continued to serve the Colts' players and was a constant mentor to the team's athletic trainers who succeeded him. Ed was one of the founding fathers of the Maryland Athletic Trainers Association (MATA), helping to organize the first meeting in 1980, and was a member of its inaugural Hall of Fame class that was inducted on May 2, 2005. Ed continued to provide guidance to athletic trainers until his death in 1983. Numerous scholarships have been established in his name, both with MATA and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS).
While Ed will be remembered as one of the most educated athletic trainers of his day, some of his most significant contributions came in the tirelessly manner in which he gave of himself to help improve the lives of children. He stood for courage and championed the cause of those who displayed that characteristic. His work and philosophy continues today through the Foundation that bears his name. A great and compassionate humanitarian, he was always proud to be known simply as "Ed Block of the Baltimore Colts."