Monday, March 11, 2013

#174 Joe Jay

#174 Joe Jay photo jay_zpsedf6ec46.jpg
I'm certain of three things in looking at this card: 1) With six letters total, Joe Jay has the shortest name of any player in the 1965 Topps Set; 2) there is no baseball in Joe's right hand, nor in the glove (at least try to hide it!); and 3) if the batter scorches a line drive back to Joe's glove hand, he's still going to have a bruised hand. Get a glove that fits, man.

Fun facts about Joe Jay:

-A native of Middletown, CT, Joe signed with the Milwaukee Braves for a $40,000 bonus in 1953 after completing high school.

-Due to everyone's favorite obsolete rule (Bonus Baby!), Jay immediately joined the Braves at age 17, making him the first veteran of Little League Baseball to play in the majors. He appeared in three games in 1953 and shut out the Reds in an abbreviated seven-inning game for his first win.

-He pitched in Milwaukee for parts of seven seasons, but never received more than 19 starts in a single year. His best work came in 1958, when he went 7-5 with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP to help the Braves capture their second straight pennant. However, a pulled elbow tendon and a broken ring finger limited the righthander to 96.2 innings. The latter injury sidelined him during the World Series.

-In December 1960, Joe was traded to the Reds along with Juan Pizzaro, with shortstop Roy McMillan coming to the Braves. He took immediately to his new team, topping the National League with a 21-10 record and four shutouts. He put up a 3.53 ERA in 247.1 innings for the first-place Cincinnati club and made his lone All-Star team. He even finished fifth in MVP voting, stealing the one first-place vote that did not go to teammate Franak Robinson.

-Jay delivered the Reds' only win in the 1961 World Series, maneuvering around six walks in a 6-2 complete game effort in Game Two. He was not nearly so fortunate in Game Five, as the Yankees knocked him out of the box after two-thirds of an inning. He was charged with four runs, as New York rolled to a 13-5 Series-clinching victory.

-He was nearly as good in 1962, going 21-14 with a 3.76 ERA in a career-high 273 innings. His fine season made him the first Reds pitcher since Bucky Walters in 1939-1940 to post consecutive 20-win campaigns.

-Shoulder pain and poor run support contributed to a 7-18 record in 1963, though Joe's ERA also jumped to 4.29.

-Jay persevered through aches and pains and occasional squabbles with management to pitch another two and a half seasons in Cincy, but was surprised by a trade back to the Braves in mid-1966. He fell from 6-2 with a 3.91 ERA pre-trade to 0-4 with a 7.89 ERA afterward, and was released in December.

-The Phillies signed Joe to a minor-league deal in 1967, but let him go after four games at Class A Clearwater. He retired with a career record of 99-91 and a 3.77 ERA in parts of 13 seasons.

-Jay was the rare major leaguer who made a clean break from the game. He had built up some considerable business interests during his career, including ownership of taxicab and limousine companies, a carpet cleaning business, two building maintenance firms, and most notably, J&B Drilling, which came to own close to 100 oil wells.
#174 Joe Jay (back) photo jayb_zps36da5d27.jpg


  1. I thought that Jay had generally been known as "Joey." I have never heard him referred to as Joe.

    Sounds like he probably made a lot more money outside of baseball than inside.