Rudolph "Spider" Edwards
Revered Fixture at Boston Garden | Born: March 18, 1930
Rudolph "Spider" Edwards - Biography
There may have been no more recognizable, non-player/executive member of the Celtics organization over the last five decades than Rudolph “Spider” Edwards.
Spider joined the franchise as an employee at the famed Boston Garden in 1964 and quickly became a fixture at Celtics home games. He remained such for the next 33 years, becoming an unmistakable figure for more than one reason.
As a member of the maintenance crew, Spider became known for his role as the sweeper of the parquet floor, a job be originally took up to clear the moisture from the court that oftentimes brewed from the hockey ice beneath the surface. Donning a green, satin Celtics jacket and a fedora to every game, he would grace the floor with his mop before the game, during stoppages of play during the game, and after the game.
“He took great pride in doing it,” said Celtics Vice President of Media Services Jeff Twiss, who has been with the Celtics since 1981. “He was very meticulous.”
Spider was graceful and alert while performing his sweeps. He never intruded on players and was known for his exact timing during stoppages of play; he understood how much time he had to get his work done during timeouts.
His halftime sweeps, however, were what Spider truly became famous for. In fact, one of his signed mops once sold at auction for $1,600 in 1996.
“The running joke years ago was that the halftime entertainment at Celtics games was they used to roll the ball cart to center court and Spider would sweep the floor,” Twiss said with a smile. “The ball kids would roll the ball cart out to center court and Spider would kind of move it to the side a little bit and continue sweeping and that was it.”
The greatest of greats, including team patriarch Red Auerbach, understood and admired Spider’s passion for the parquet.
“There were a couple of people who were gathering on the court after a game and one of them happened to be Coach Auerbach, after he had retired as a coach,” Twiss stated as he recalled a story that has been passed down for decades. “Those people were kind of just shooting the breeze on the court, and Spider came down and they were in his way. He was trying to sweep the floor.
“Spider said, ‘Hey, get out of my way!’ And Red turns around and says, ‘I’ll move when I want to!’” Twiss continued. “And then Red realized it was Spider and he got out of the way. He parted so that Spider could continue with his appointed task.”
Anyone who attended Celtics games, from top-of-the-food-chain people like Auerbach, to run-of-the-mill fans, could spot Spider from a mile away. Spider’s style was unmistakable.
That style was capped, at all times, by a fedora. Twiss says that he never, not once, saw Spider without a fedora on – even during the early workday at the Garden ahead of a night game.
“I must have 30 hats,” Spider told the Boston Globe in 1982. “I guess you say I collect them.”
Spider always wore his green, satin jacket with “CELTICS” embroidered across the chest when he worked a Celtics game. Upon his retirement in 1997, he would only be seen at the new Garden in a suit and tie or bowtie.
Spider’s well-known duty was to sweep and care to the parquet. However, his job extended far beyond that.
The Garden relied on Spider for general care and maintenance on many different levels. For instance, if something went wrong with the basketball stanchions, he would be consulted and he would help to resolve the issue, according to Twiss. Spider was also relied upon to keep areas of the arena clean. In short, he kept the Garden presentable and playable for decades.
Spider retired in 1997 but maintained his presence at Celtics games and in the community. At age 85, he took one last ceremonial sweep of the floor as the Celtics introduced their new parquet floor during the 2015-16 season. He passed away months later, on July 27, 2016.
He was beloved and appreciated by all who he came in contact with, and he took just as much pride in his community as he did in his famous sweeps of the parquet floor.
Rudolph “Spider” Edwards did not play a second for the Boston Celtics, nor did he mastermind any transactions that brought a title to the city of Boston. Yet still, he etched his way into the mystique of the Boston Celtics as one of the organization’s Legends who will never be forgotten.