SABR

Raymond Haley

This article was written by Bill Nowlin.

It would probably take a true trivia champion to come up with the answer to this question: What player on two world championship teams played in the fewest games during the regular season?

The clubs were the 1915 and 1916 Red Sox. Catcher Raymond Haley appeared in five games during the season for the 1915 Red Sox and just one game for the 1916 team, for a total of six games. If you’d guessed Pat Haley, you wouldn’t be faulted. He was almost exclusively known by that nickname.

Why didn’t Haley play in more games? With catchers Pinch Thomas, Hick Cady, and Bill Carrigan on both Red Sox teams, Haley was pretty far down the ladder.

Raymond Timothy Haley was the son of a factory laborer, Timothy Haley, and Mary (McGill) Haley, born on January 23, 1891, in Danbury, Iowa. In 1910, the year before his professional baseball career began, the family was living in Kewanee, Iowa, and both Raymond and his older brother, William, worked as machine operators in a factory. Raymond went through the Kewanee public schools for 11 years and for one year of college in Macomb, Illinois.

In 1911 he began playing ball – he was always a catcher – for the Richmond (Kentucky) Pioneers in the Class D Blue Grass League. Sporting Life said he had been “picked up at the request of an Illinois friend of the Pirates.”1 Haley played in 108 games and hit .269. His contract was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who gave him a look and placed him with Wheeling of the Class B Central League for 1912.2

Haley hit .221 in each of the next two years – for the 1912 Wheeling Stogies and the 1913 Evansville River Rats, both in the Central League. (Wheeling was out of the league in 1913 and Evansville was in.) He played in 87 games for Wheeling, but suffered a bad finger injury early in the year with Evansville and played in only 46 games for them. He is listed in the baseball record books as 5-feet-11 and weighing 180 pounds.

In 1914 Haley caught for Des Moines in the Western League, a Class A circuit. He was clearly coming into his own. He played in 156 games, and he hit for a .294 average.

On February 8, 1915, the Providence Grays bought Haley’s contract from Des Moines. Grays owner Joseph Lannin also owned the Boston Red Sox. It was on Jack Coffey’s recommendation that Haley was signed. “The old Fordham shortstop thinks well of Haley, and it was on his recommendation that the Red Sox bid high for his services,” Sporting Life said.3

Haley trained with the Boston team at Hot Springs, Arkansas, even though he was ticketed for Providence, because “he is a good prospect and likely to earn his way into the Red Sox payroll before the season of 1915 is many days old.”4 Indeed, he made the big-league team before the season began. The April 3 Boston Journal described Haley as “a graceful easy workman, who impresses one very favorably the first time he is seen as a catcher of class.”

Haley’s major-league debut came on April 21, when he took over in Washington for player-manager Bill Carrigan in the sixth inning of a lost-cause game the Red Sox were losing 9-0 to the Washington Senators. On May 5 Haley was released to the Grays.5

He played out the season with Providence, and was brought up to Boston at the tail end of the season, playing in the very last game of the year. He had played in five games, with one hit – a ninth-inning double on September 25 – in eight plate appearances. He also drew a base on balls, and scored both times he got on base.

In 1916 Haley played in one game for the Red Sox, on April 19. He struck out in his one at-bat. The plan had already been to give him another year in the minors, but Lannin had sold the Providence club and so on April 21 Haley was placed with Buffalo (which Lannin owned) until he “learns to be more aggressive.”6 At some point in July, Haley began playing for the Philadelphia Athletics. He hit .276 in 63 games for the Bisons – and Buffalo won the International League pennant, so he didn’t entirely miss out on the thrill of finishing first.

Haley had got to Philadelphia in time to play in 34 games, starting on July 31, before season’s end, batting .231. He had actually been playing for Connie Mack’s Athletics under a Buffalo contract, but on a string from Boston, so on August 30 a trade was finally consummated in which Philadelphia sent outfielder Jimmy Walsh to the Red Sox and took on Haley’s contract.7 In any event, the Boston club had an interest in the Buffalo club.8

Wally Schang handled most of the catching work for the Athletics in 1917, with Billy Meyer and Haley as backups. Haley appeared in 41 games with a .276 average, driving in 11 runs – more than the four in 1916. His last game for the A’s, on September 15, was his last game in the major leagues. He played in the minors into 1931. His major-leagues totals were 81 games with a .248 average and a .291 on-base percentage, an OPS (slugging average plus on-base average) of .585, and 15 RBIs.

Haley was drafted for Army service in November 1917 and spent 1918 with the 1st Battalion, 310th Engineers. Stationed at Camp Custer in Michigan, he played some baseball for the unit. He did say he didn’t think baseball and soldiering went well together.9 After his first months in the service, baseball wasn’t much of an option – in early September Haley arrived in Archangel, Russia, from which his unit operated until May 1919 as part of the Arctic American Expeditionary Forces, part of the Allied intervention in Russia after the Russian Revolution.10 There was, of course, extreme cold in the Arctic. The unit, under British command, saw combat, and the soldiers spent months trying to make their way through waist-high snow. In August 1919 Haley was mustered out, returned home, and began playing semipro ball in the Flint Factory Baseball League. All but one member of his unit survived the fighting.11

On January 14, 1920, Haley signed with the Milwaukee Brewers but there is no indication he ever played for the team. A 1921 article says his arm had been “weak last year and it is uncertain whether he has fully recovered his strength.”12

Haley played for Wichita of the Western League in 1921 and 1922, with sufficient stamina that he was able to play in 145 and 144 games respectively. He hit a very impressive .321 in 1921, but reverted toward his norm in 1922. (His career batting average in 14 minor-league seasons was .287.) Wichita easily won the pennant in 1921, by 11½ games, but sank to third place in 1922, leading team owner Frank Isbell to sell off many of his better, but somewhat aging, stars. Haley was dealt to Nashville and caught for the Vols in 1923. He played in 123 games and hit .276. And in the springtime, he married a sweetheart from Kewanee, Hollis Long, in Nashville. In mid-December Haley was traded to the Reading Keystones (International League).

Again, he hit .276, for Reading. The team traded him to Lincoln in early 1925 but he refused to report so another trade was worked out, sending him back to Wichita, where he played the next three seasons. Haley hit .350 in 1925, and .331 (with a career-best eight home runs) in 1926. The team was on its way to a last-place finish and manager Howard Gregory resigned on August 14. Haley was named to take his place.

Haley’s average plummeted to .252 in 1927.

In 1928 Haley managed Terre Haute in the Three-I League. He caught in 102 games, batting .254. He moved on to another managerial slot in 1929, for Wheeling – where he’d played 17 years earlier. He caught in 67 games and, at the age of 38 (in Class C ball) hit .315. A team a year, it seemed, Haley being hired to manage the Raleigh Capitals in the Piedmont League in 1930. He was a playing manager again, hitting .261 in 38 games. He and Hollie were living in Fulton, Illinois. She worked as a public school teacher.

And finally, Haley returned to Wheeling in 1931, managing while just keeping his feet wet by appearing in 14 games and hitting .200.

Haley went on to work in corrections at the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet. On the player questionnaire he completed for the Hall of Fame in 1962, he said he was a retired farmer.

Haley died in Bradenton, Florida, on October 8, 1973.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed Haley’s player file and player questionnaire from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Retrosheet.org, and Baseball-Reference.com.

 

Notes

1 Sporting Life, November 25, 1911.

2 Lexington (Kentucky) Herald, February 25, 1912.

3 Sporting Life, February 20, 1915.

4 Pawtucket Times, March 6, 1915.

5 Baltimore Sun, May 6, 1915.

6 Boston Journal, April 21, 1916.

7 Philadelphia Inquirer, August 31, 1916.

8 Sporting Life, September 9, 1916.

9 Flint Journal, May 21, 1918. Haley’s parents had moved to Flint, and he himself made his home there as well.

10 Flint Journal, February 8, 1919.

11 The August 11, 1919 Flint Journal has an article describing some of what Haley and his fellow soldiers endured.

12 Tulsa World, March 6, 1921.

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