Holyoke Produces Another Big Leaguer

by Laurel | January 18th, 2012

Holyoke’s own Joe Lucey had an interesting post-baseball career, first as Ward 7 School Committeeman in 1929 and 1931. He joined the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in 1932, heading the Western Massachusetts Regional Office until 1944. From 1944 to his retirement in 1972, Lucey served as City Treasurer. He also had an unsuccessful bid for Mayor in 1939, running against Henry Toepfert. He died in July 1980 at the age of 83 — I expect there are some readers who remember Joe.

Joseph Earl Lucey

Joseph Earl Lucey

18 January 1925

“Scootch” Lucey Real Natural Ball Player

Holyoke Boy, Who Joins Boston Red Sox in Spring,

Has Played Everywhere For Jersey City

Except Behind Bat

by Donald Bagg

Holyoke has sent another sandlot product to the major leagues. The Paper City has had more citizens in the big show than Springfield and the latest product of the up-river city is Joseph Earl “Scootch” Lucey. All those names have to go and to prove it just stroll up the street in Holyoke with the newest sport idol there. It’s “Hello Joe,” and “Hello Earl,” and “Hello Scootch,” and “Hello Lucey,” all of them. Everybody knows him, for he’s going South with the Boston Red Sox in the Spring.

Yankees Had Him Once

“I don’t know where they got that name “Scootch,” says Lucey. “Somebody threw it at me and it stuck.”

Anyway, he’s a hero in Holyoke and he ought to be.

During the minor league convention Lucey was sold by jersey City to the Red Sox, by Patsy Donovan to Lee Fohl. “They had about nine deals fixed up for me first,” relates the principal, “but I’m glad to go to Boston. The big leagues haven’t any betters for me. I was up with the Yankees before, you know.

“I haven’t ever received any notice from the Red Sox since they bought me, but I expect to go away about the 2nd of March. Haven’t had any word form them, any contact or anything. I’ll give ’em the best I’ve got though when the time comes.”

Lucey has ha four years in the International league since he was in the big leagues before. Then he was just out of Catholic University, where he spent three years. The Yankees took him in June of 1920 and he stayed with the Miller Huggins outfit the rest of the season. Then he went to Jersey City and has been there ever since.

While a Skeeter, Lucey has played under Pat Donovan for a year, Ben Egan for 2, under Jimmy Walsh part of last summer and under Patsy Dee again for the rest. He has especially kind words for Patsy, but the Holyoke boy doesn’t want to play in Jersey City anymore. “Buffalo or Toronto for me if I have to go back to the International,” he says.

“Of course, the big league is the goal of every ball player’s ambition, and baseball is my profession so I’m glad to get another chance up there,” he explains. “I figure that wit the experience I’ve had since I was up before I ought to be able to stick this time.”

Lucey is going up this time as a pitcher. In college he was an infielder and went to the Yankees as such, though he pitched a few games in college and did a good job of it.

His Best Game Anywhere

“The best game of ball I ever pitched in my life or ever hope to pitch,” says “Scootch,” “was for Catholic U. against Lehigh. That was in 1919 and big Vernon Johnson from Westfield was pitching for Lehigh. I always had a lot of respect for that boy’s speed but our pitching hadn’t been any too good and I offered to pitch for Coach Charley Moran sometime. He sent me in against Lehigh and they only got two hits off me.

“The first man up in the first inning hit my first pitch to right field and got three bases when the ball got past the right fielder. The next man up hit the first pitch for a single and scored the only run they made that day. They didn’t get any more hits all through the nine innings and we beat them 2 to 1. After the game, Moran said to me, “Joe, you might make a pretty good pitcher in time.”

That time has come since, for Lucey has been pitching in the International league for four years, off and on. He figures he has played more games in more positions than any other player in the Toole circuit and the records bear him out. Joe Lucey is a natural all-around ball player. Since he joined Jersey City four years ago, he has played more than a few games in every position of the nine except behind the bat. “I never put on a mask,” said he. I’m afraid if I did they’d make me catch.”

Last summer “Scootch” took part in 67 games of ball for the Skeeters. He pitched in 25, winning seven and losing 13 for a hopeless tailender. He played 21 games in the outfield, in every field, three at third base and one at shortstop and the only error he made all season was while on the slab. That wasn’t all that made Lee Fohl buy him, however.

In 1923 Lucey led all the pitchers of the International in effectiveness. He worked in 29 games, winning 11 and losing 14, yet holding his opponents to 3.73 earned runs for each nine innings. That was the best in the league, better than Beall, Wisner, Groves, Parnham, Mamaux or anybody with a tailend team again.

But Joe labored all that summer under the menace of appendicitis, and though he stuck out the season and worked hard and often, playing in 69 games all told, when he came home in the fall he had to be operated on and was laid up a long time. And all that at his own expense, whereas if he had quit during the season he could have just collected from the club, which just goes to show what kind of a chap Joe Lucey is.

Finds Groves Easy

In 1922 he was in 69 contests, being on the mound in 23 of the, and in 1821 he took part in 81 games, pitching in 22 and spending the rest of his time wherever they needed him most. During his four years his name appears in the records at first base, second base, shortstop and third base, as well as on the slab and all over the outfield and he has done plenty of pinch hitting.

“If I could hit better I think I’d like to play the outfield all the time, but pitching is all right,” Lucey allows. He never raps the ball for better than a 25-cent figure but that’s fair enough if he’s going to be a pitcher.

“Scootch” isn’t overproud of his batting average but there is one little stat that he isn’t ashamed to tell about if he is asked. one day down in Baltimore he smacked two home runs in the same game of “Lefty” Groves, the $100,600 beauty, and the first of these blows came with the bases full. That was in the second inning and in the sixth, Lucey whacked another circuit clout. A home run in Baltimore isn’t much, says “Scootch” but a home run is a home run. Joe has had his troubles with the bat but he always could hit Groves.

Lucey declares he doesn’t see how they can keep Groves from being a sensation in the majors. “He’s got everything,” the Holyoker says. “He didn’t know so much about pitching until Lew McCarty got hold of him last season and taught him how to use a slow ball and how to get better control and made a great pitcher out of him. Lucey also thinks Wally Simpson will go big with his hard drives on the Newark field and guesses Dick Loftus will have all the ground covering he wants to do in that prairie at Jersey City.

Lucey isn’t making any more effort than usual to keep in shape for his coming big league trial, but what is usual for him is enough for anybody. Hie favorite pastime in the winter is hiking and he says he often covers 15 to 20 miles in a day over the hills to keep his legs hard and in trim and always goes alone. He skates, too, and plays some hockey and a little basketball, though the last sport he goes easy on. His duties as coach of the crack Rosary high School quintet keep him on the floor quite a little.

“It isn’t the old arm you need to worry about,” in Joe’s words, “it’s the legs. You can play baseball as long as your legs hold out, and no longer,” he says, and in that he agrees with “Shane” Collins, Eddie Lennox and many another veteran. The only smoking Joe does is on a pipe and he doesn’t give himself over to any riotous ways in summer or winter. He is 25 years old and in tip-top condition.

Infielder in School Days

When he went to Rosary High school he was an infielder. He also played basketball but there was no football team. He graduated in 1917 and at Catholic University he played baseball only, and played it three seasons. Pat Donovan is the man who converted Lucey from the infield to the slab Back in his grammar school days “Scootch” was in many a kids’ game with Francis Duffy, Jerry Conway, Patty Shea, Billy Gleason and other celebs in the Paper City. By the way, Lucey stoutly maintains that big Conway ought to be a first baseman instead of a pitcher. “Scootch” rates Jerry as a whiz on first base.

Joe spent seven months in the army during the war, and while he liked it all right then he’s rather be a ball player now.

With the Red Sox, Lucey will come under the tutelage of one of the greatest handlers of pitchers in the country, in Lee Fohl. Wilbert Robinson, Bill Killefer and a couple of others are the only ones rates on a par with Fohl when it comes to getting the most out of a pitcher, especially a young one. Good old Patsy Donovan sent “Scootch” to a good place to be brought along properly.

As an infielder, Joe always had a fine arm and as a pitcher the speed is still there. Speed and now and then a good curve h uses, but he never fooled around with any of those fancy deliveries. Lucey throws and bats right handed.

Lucey plans to make the trip to the New Orleans training camp with Alec Ferguson, whom he knows better than any of the other Sox. Fergie lives in Bloomfield, N.J., so Lucey won’t have so far to go alone. The former Bridgeport pitcher was with the Yankees when Lucey was, and Joe also has a close acquaintance with Val Picinich, John Collins and other of the Boston Americans, so that he won’t be lonely or feel out of place when he goes after his second big league chance.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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