Augeri: Joey Jay, a favorite son who forgot his way home

From Paul Augeri at the Middletown Press on August 20, 2018:

Looking back on the long conversation we had a few weeks back, it struck me how much Bill Denehy still embraces his hometown after all these years.

Middletown was the launching pad toward Denehy’s career in the major leagues. He is still close to people who live here. The personal stories about growing up in the city that he shares in his book, “Rage,” would bring a smile to the locals’ faces.

And then, there’s Joey Jay. He just turned his back on us.

If Middletown had a Mount Rushmore for its most accomplished ballplayers, the faces of Jay, Jeff Bagwell, Denehy and Mark DeJohn would grace it. Before going on to varying degrees of success in Major League Baseball, all four began the journey here — Bagwell at Xavier High, and Jay, Denehy and DeJohn at Woodrow Wilson High School.

If world-famous fighter Willie Pep put the city on the national sports map for good in the 1940s, Jay did the same from a baseball standpoint in the 1950s. The reverence folks around these parts still have for him is obvious. He had two 21-win seasons in the majors. He pitched in the World Series and beat the Yankees. Frank Robinson, Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews were among his teammates.

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Originally published: August 21, 2018. Last Updated: August 21, 2018.