Joe Boley

 

John Peter Bolinsky July 19, 1896 - December 30, 1962

 

 

I grew up on Pine Street next to the Mahanoy City Post Office. First Street, the alley between our house and the post office, was the scene of much neighborhood sports activity. In the spring and summer we played sponge ball, wiffle ball and house ball and in the fall, touch football. There were enough kids in the neighborhood to field two teams of at least six or seven players.

 

One summer day in the late 1950s I was playing sponge ball in "the alley" with the neighborhood gang. An elderly gentleman ( or so I thought at the time) walked along the side walk on his way to the post office. After he passed one of the older boys in our group said, " That was Joe Boley . He played in the World Series."

 

At the time that was the closest I had ever come to a major league baseball player and it was my only contact with a Mahanoy City legend.

 

Joe Boley's best years were spent the International League for the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore won seven consecutive league championships between 1919-1925. Boley's batting average in Baltimore was above .300 for all but one season and his fielding percentage was exceptional. He should have made to the majors long before he did. The Orioles management made sure he stayed in Baltimore by placing a high price tag on their star shortstop. Finally in 1927 he was purchased by the Philadelphia Athletics ( managed by the legendary Connie Mack) for $60,000 dollars. Boley joined Jimmy Foxx, Max Bishop and Jimmy Dykes as part of the A's" million dollar" infield.

 

As a twenty-eight year old rookie Joe batted .311 and then helped the A's to three American league pennants and two World Series Championships from 1929-31.

 

The Mahanoy City Historical Society's Record American Digitization Project has afforded me access to early newspaper accounts of Boley's career . I have included a few in this article. More are available to the public in the historical society headquarters.

 

Darrell Hanson has written an excellent short biography of Joe Boley for the Society of American Baseball Research. I have used some quotes from that biography as captions for some of the pictures.

 

In 1996 William Nack wrote an article for Sports Illustrated entitled The Team That Time Forgot. When Joe Boley walked through the post office alley that day in the late 1950's I had no idea that he played on what some experts consider the greatest team in baseball history.Nack's article tells why the 1929-31 Athletics deserve that accolade. I have used a few quotes from Nack's article as captions also.

 

Links to both articles can be found below

 

The Team That Time Forgot by William Nack in Sports Illustrated

 

Darrell Hanson's Biography of Joe Boley - Society For American Baseball research