Thursday, April 9, 2015

'67 custom wraps up Jay's career

I've said it many times on my blog in the past . . . I wasn't much into baseball or cards after 1960.

Therefore, I never realized that Joey Jay returned to the Braves in mid-1966 after 6-1/2 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Jay, of course, was a bonus baby signing with the Milwaukee Braves out of high school in 1953. 

I've read that Charlie Grimm had no use for bonus players and that he kept Jay firmly planted on the bench until mid-1955 when he could be -- and was -- sent out to the minors. After  2-1/2 seasons in the minors with a 29-22 record, and after going 17-10 in 1957, Jay was called back up to Milwaukee for 1958.

In the next three seasons for the Braves, Jay was 22-24. After the season he was traded to the Reds with Juan Pizzaro (one of my all-time favorite 1957 Topps cards) for Roy McMillan.

With his new team, Jay had a career year in 1961, leading the league with 21 wins (10 losses) and four shut-outs. He was named to both All-Star games, put appeared in neither, having pitched just two days earlier in both cases. He started and won Game 2 of the World Series, allowing just four hits at Yankee Stadium.

He followed up with a 21-14 mark in 1962. From 1963 until June, 1966, Jay had a 33-45 record. He was 6-2 in mid-June when the Reds traded him to the Braves -- in their first year in Atlanta -- for Hank Fischer. That deal wasn't productive for either team. Jay was 0-4 for the Braves for the rest of 1966 and Fischer was 0-6 for Cincinnati before he was traded to the Red in mid-August.

Jay's return to the Braves marked the end of his major league career. He was released after the season, eventually being picked up by the Phillies. He couldn't make the big club's roster and after pitching four games at Class A Tidewater, he retired from pro ball.

They didn't have to hold any benefits for Jay after his playing days were over . . . he owned more than 30 producing gas and oil wells in Wast Virginia,

As I mentioned earlier, I was unaware the Jay had ended his big league days back with the Braves . . . until one day when I saw among the Topps Vault eBay auctions portrait and posed-action photos of Jay in an Atlanta uniform.

I immediately decided to do a "final" Joe Jay card in the 1967 Topps format and you see it now before you.

On a mostly unrelated note, until I read it recently in a 1964 issue of The Sporting News, I did not know that in the post-war era, the Milwaukee Braves seldom rehired players who they had previously dealt away or released. According to the article, it happened only three times into the early 1960s. 

In 1961 they brought back Johnny Antonelli, a bonus baby who had pitched for the Braves in Boston (1948-50), spent 1951-52 in the army, then returned to Milwaukee in 1953. He had been traded to the Giants in 1964.

Alvin Dark had been with Boston 1946, 1948-49 before he, too, was traded to the Giants in 1950. He returned to the Braves in mid-1960.

Both Dark and Antonelli ended their major league playing careers after their comeback seasons with Milwaukee. 

The "other" Frank Thomas came back to the Braves during the 1965 season. He had been with Milwaukee most of 1961, before being traded to the Mets in the post-season. He ended his big league days with a handful of games with the Cubs in 1966.

1 comment:

  1. I started following MLB in May 1967 as a Phillies fan, and I'm pretty sure Jay had a page in the Phillies' 1967 yearbook, even though he didn't make the team out of spring training.


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