The Quizzical Case of Ed Porray: Cruise Ship Baby or Baseball’s First Merman?

On the surface, there appears to be nothing particularly noteworthy about Ed Porray. The 5’11”, 170 lbs. right-hander appeared in three games for the Buffalo Buffeds in 1914, posting a 4.35 ERA in three starts while allowing 18 hits in just 10.1 innings. Scores of players named Ed compiled mediocre stats in brief stints in Major League Baseball, so why does Porray continue to puzzle baseball historians and cryptozoologists more than 90 years after his final game?

It was a simpler time in Ed’s playing days, when the Ottoman Empire was still the talk of the town, Pancho Villa was known as a revolutionary and not a compliment to guacamole, and Americans were named after their home state or distinguishing physical feature. On a team populated by the likes of Chubby Snyder, Biff Schlitzer, Baldy Louden and Tex McDonald, the name “Ed Porray” stood out like a sore thumb.

But Big Ed’s name wasn’t the only thing that set him apart from the rest of the Buffeds. You see, while Porray’s teammates hailed from places like Farmersville, TX and Pittsburgh, PA, our enigmatic leading man’s place of birth was…the Atlantic Ocean?

Porray’s birth certificate, a document which has come under greater scrutiny than the Dead Sea Scrolls and Book of Mormon, lists that he was born “On a ship, on the Atlantic Ocean” or “At sea, on the Atlantic Ocean” depending upon source and translation. Though the differences in language are subtle, the ramifications of each statement are anything but.

If you subscribe to the second school of thought, that Porray was simply born on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, then this is the end of our story. While Porray being born at sea makes him an interesting novelty, and a fun piece of baseball trivia, the pitcher and his career 2.419 WHIP need not take up any more of your brain’s valuable space.

But what if there were more to the story? What if Ed Porray wasn’t born on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean, but rather in the Atlantic Ocean? Is it possible that Porray was a citizen of the famed lost city of Atlantis or a wayward merman looking for a new life on land? Let’s examine the evidence:

  • The only substantiated photo of Porray shows the pitcher wearing a collared shirt. Did Porray wear the shirt because it was the acceptable form of male fashion in 1914, or would it be more reasonable to assume he was trying to hide his gills?
  • Though clearly the victim of a small sample size, Porray was an unequivocally bad player. His 4.35 ERA appears respectable at first blush, but Porray failed to strikeout a single batter in three starts while walking seven and allowing 18 hits. Porray’s FIP of 6.98, during a season in which the average Federal League team averaged 4.11 runs per game, is more indicative of his true talent or lack thereof. Porray’s struggles didn’t end on the mound though, as he went 0-4 in four plate appearances and managed to commit two errors in just nine chances for a fielding percentage of .778. Could anyone born on land possibly perform this poorly or was Ed simply struggling to adjust to the physics of playing baseball out of the water?
  • According to one source, Ed Porray the baseball player is the same Edmund J. Porray who co-wrote the song “Everybody Shimmies Now“. The song, which became a hit in 1918 when it was covered my Mae West, reveals a cryptic message when played backwards which includes a latitude and longitude of a hidden city in the middle of, you guessed it, the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Greek philosopher Plato referenced Atlantis in his classic work, Timaeus, stating, “It is related in our records how once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host… from a distant point in the Atlantic Ocean. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and will one day seek to control the game of stick and ball.” Is the game of stick and ball Plato was referring to an ancient predecessor of baseball? Could Plato have known of Porray’s existence millennia before his birth?

Porray disappeared from the sport of baseball and newspaper headlines as quickly as he had entered them. Cryptozoologists and those familiar with Atlantian law believe that Ed was banned from returning to Atlantis after his failed conquest of baseball, and was exiled to a life above the surface in a world that had no place for him. Porray died a tourtured soul at age 65, alone and penniless in Lackawaxen, PA, a town whose named translates to “swift waters”. Coincidence?

A mountain of questions, a pittance of answers.

Ed Porray. Ship baby? Merman? Resident of Atlantis?

The truth is out there.