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Joe Boley

Joe Boley
Shortstop
Born: (1896-07-19)July 19, 1896
Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania
Died: December 30, 1962(1962-12-30) (aged 66)
Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 12, 1927 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
June 29, 1932 for the Cleveland Indians
Career statistics
Batting average .269
Home runs 7
Runs batted in 227
Teams

John Peter "Joe" Boley (July 19, 1896 in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania – December 30, 1962 in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania) was a shortstop in Major League Baseball from 1927 to 1932. He played for the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians. In his short career, he was considered to be one of the top shortstops in baseball.

Early life

Born John Peter Bolinsky to Polish immigrants, Bolinsky started working in the coal fields surrounding Mahanoy City at age 10.[1] He legally changed his last name to Boley in the late 1910s, either because of his professional career, or because he wanted an "Americanized" name.[1]

Baltimore Orioles

Boley was a good fielder, steady hitter, and member of the Baltimore Orioles team that won seven consecutive International League championships (1919–1925). In 1923, the New York Yankees took an interest in Boley to replace aging shortstop Everett Scott, but backed off as Boley's reputed $100,000 price tag kept the Yankees and major league bidders at bay for years.[2] The Chicago White Sox also took an interest in Boley, but Dunn requested $100,000 and three players, which they declined.[3] It made manager Jack Dunn give Boley a high salary, similar to the average pay from Major League Baseball.[4] After the Toronto Maple Leafs won the pennant in 1926, Dunn redundantly parted ways with Boley.[5] Athletics owner Connie Mack bought him for an estimated $60,000 to $100,000 in 1927, when the Orioles team was being disbanded.[6] He was elected to the International League Hall of Fame in 1954.[1]

Major League career

During his first MLB season, the 28-year-old rookie batted .311 for the A's.[7] Boley joined Jimmie Foxx, Max Bishop, and Jimmy Dykes in Mack's "Million Dollar Infield," which sparked the A's to three pennants and two world championships (1929–31). In 1930, Boley again led all American League shortstops with a .970 fielding percentage, while finishing fourth in assists and putouts.[7] He had career highs in both home runs (4) and RBIs (55).[7] Boley was injured for most of 1931, playing only in 67 games, and batting a career-low .228. Dib Williams took over at shortstop and played well, causing Boley his starting job once he recovered.[6]

Before the start of the 1932 spring training, Mack sold Boley to the Cleveland Indians in a trial basis, with the proviso that the Indians would buy his full contract if satisfied, and return him to the Athletics if not.[8] The Indians had tried three shortstops during its 1931 campaign, Ed Montague, Bill Hunnefield and Jonah Goldman, without much success.[9][10] Cleveland manager Roger Peckinpaugh thought Boley's fielding skills would help them win, and Boley was considered a "considerable improvement" by local sportswriters.[9] Commissioner of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis vetoed the "try-him-and-buy-him" deal and ordered Boley to return to the Athletics.[8] Mack commented of the veto "It seemed a shame for a player of Joe's years and ability... to sit on a bench when he might be playing regularly with some other club."[8] He regained his starting job once Williams started struggling, but injured his shoulder a few weeks into the season and started playing poorly.[6] He was released by the Athletics on May 9, which was likely linked to the injury and subsequent play.[6] Between his two stints between teams, Boley helped save the lives of five occupants of a burning car near Philadelphia and drove the injured to the hospital.[11] He signed a contract with the Indians on June 10, but only played one game with them.[12] In a June 29 loss against the Detroit Tigers, Boley had a harmless single in four at-bats, while starting at shortstop.[13] He was released a week later, ending his career.[1]

Personal life

Nicknamed "Silent Joe" for his quiet personality, Boley was named "the second least talkative player in the big leagues" by legendary Washington Post reporter Shirley Povich.[1] Boley was married to Ann Christoff and had three children.[1] He died in Mahanoy City, after a six week hospital stint in 1962.[1][7]

References

External links

  • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)
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