Ed was a beautiful guy who loved his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Shanda. He was as dedicated to them as much as any individual could possibly be to the dearest people in their lives.
For Ed, it was his family, God, White Sox baseball and golf -- you might argue Notre Dame football was a finalist in his life priorities as well. Ed would always remind me that I was from the other side of 79th street. I grew up in South Shore and Eddie west of Ashland, as I reminded him. South Siders have a natural bond, and we certainly did.
I was privileged to have known Eddie for 40 years. To to be able to call him a friend meant something special. If you were a good listener, you had to be prepared to spend hours with Ed finding out what he knew and what was important to him. It was always time well spent.
Ed was a great basketball and baseball player at St. Rita High School. He graduated in 1967 and had scholarship offers from many top schools. Instead, a scout from the Cleveland Indians named Jerry Krause -- the Bulls' future general manager and architect of six championship teams -- helped sign Farmer with the consent of his mother, who was in the hospital dying.
"Jerry promised my mother that he would take care of me through the development process," Eddie told me on more than one occasion. "Jerry was an important person for me."
Ed pitched for 11 seasons in the big leagues. His playing career was highlighted by his stint with the White Sox from 1979-'81, as he often said. After that, he was a baseball scout for a number of years before that White Sox connection eventually led to his return to the organization as a radio broadcaster. Ed was the color analyst alongside play-by-play man John Rooney on White Sox radio broadcasts from 1991 to 2005. When the White Sox won their World Series championship in 2005, I was honored to be in the booth with them and do the pregame and postgame shows during that magical run.
The way Ed and Rooney opened up their broadcast booth to friends and family created an open house feel more than that of an MLB broadcast. Food would be brought up by the Bertucci brothers (Bruno and Bobby) or the Levy corporation. Nobody went hungry with those guys around. The tradition continued when Rooney left to become a Cardinals broadcaster and Ed shifted to play-by-play duties and was joined by Darrin Jackson as the color analyst.
Ed had a family history of kidney illness to cope with. His brother Tom donated a kidney to him in the early 1990s, which saved his life. While their relationship was fractured by family differences later, Ed loved his brother until the day he passed.
Eddie was a brilliant guy with an IQ above 150 -- he would tell you that in no uncertain terms. He used that brain to research his own kidney and health issues that followed the transplant. He would also share his medical knowledge with friends like me. He diagnosed my arthritis issues in the early 1980s and sent me to a rheumatologist whom he had become friendly with. Ed did that for many different people who had maladies or illnesses. Ed was always there to help or offer information and knowledge.
Living in southern California with Barbara and Shanda was his great joy. He went home on off days during the season for the last 10 years so he could see his beloved ladies. He did so even if it was for one day. The trip necessitated long plane flights home and back, but those trips meant the world to him.
Ed could get you on a golf course anywhere in the U.S. or Ireland. He would also help all who were in need. You didn't pay anything out of your own pocket.
Of course, a day might then come where you would owe Ed a favor or service, and you gladly paid up. You do so because Ed was always there for you in your time of need, no matter how big or small. If he couldn't directly help you, he knew someone who could.
Eddie's color commentary came natural, and he was great at it. The play-by-play work didn't come naturally. He made himself into the voice of the White Sox on the radio with hard work. Every offseason when he was back in California, he would replay old White Sox broadcasts with the volume down, working on his play-by-play in practice sessions.
The White Sox broadcasts were always South Side, Farmio-style. He would go back and forth with Jackson on three or four subjects at a time, including the play-by-play.
To honor Ed, please sign up to be an organ donor. Ed worked tirelessly with the Illinois secretary of state Jesse White's organ donor program for years.
I knew Ed's time was short when he called me on March 7 to say hello. He was really calling to say goodbye.
"Thanks for being a good friend and checking in on me," he said. "Take care of Molly (my daughter) and the people you love."
He closed with, "I love you."
So now for a quick moment, I will speak up for the hundreds of friends that Ed had from all walks of life.
We love you too, Eddie, and we will miss you greatly.