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The other incident occurred in Indianapolis when Jay, disgusted with himself, started lobbing the ball up to the plate. "The other team beat the pants off us," Geraghty recalls. "I had a team meeting the next day and told Joey that if he didn't have the guts to act like a man, he could clear out. We won 12 straight after > that and Jay didn't lose another game that season."
Back to the Braves
That season was 1957 and Jay finished with a 17-10 record at Wichita, good enough for him to be recalled by the Braves. During the next three years Jay had some brilliant moments and some dismal ones. He won five games during an 18-day stretch in July of 1958, and it looked as if he had earned a place on the starting rotation alongside Warren Spahn and Lou Burdette. But in late August, Jay broke a finger and was out the rest of the season, missing a chance to pitch in the World Series.
The next season Jay started sluggishly and by mid-July his record was 3-6. Manager Fred Haney blew up. "He just won't do anything in pregame drills. He's fat and he's too lazy to get in shape," Haney said.
"I can't believe Fred really said that," Jay said recently. "Sometimes things have a way of getting mixed up."
Last year Jay's record was 9-8. "I was a spot starter," he says. "Spahn wouldn't pitch against the Dodgers, so I'd take his turn. Buhl didn't go against the Reds, so I'd fill in. I only pitched 133 innings and that's not enough."
During the winter the Braves traded Jay and Juan Pizarro, another young pitcher in much the same predicament as Jay, for Shortstop Roy McMillan. (The Reds then sent Pizarro to the White Sox for Gene Freese.) Fred Hutchinson announced that Jay would be a regular member of the starting rotation and worked him hard in spring training. He was shaky during the exhibition season and suffered a merciless pounding by the Braves, his old teammates. Worse yet, Roy McMillan, the man for whom he was traded, hit two home runs.
"It didn't worry me," Jay says now. "I'm always a slow starter. It takes me a while to work into shape."
Jay also started the season slowly, though it was hardly his fault. In his first three games, the Reds got him no runs. But then, starting with a one-hit shutout against the Phillies, Jay won 13 of his next 14 games, as the Reds moved from last place (April 30) to first place by six games (July 15). Jay continued to win during the summer and, as if fate had arranged it, he faced the Braves in September with 19 wins. The Reds got him only one run, but Jay allowed none, beating the Braves for his 20th victory—a moment he regards with relish.
The pitcher Manager Fred Hutchinson selected to start the Series is a 24-year-old left-hander named Jim O'Toole, son of a Chicago policeman. Over the last half of the season, O'Toole was Cincinnati's best pitcher, finishing with a 19-9 record after being 6-7 in early July.