Joe Foy, known to his family as Joey, was born February 21, 1943 in New York City. Though his home was only seven blocks from Yankee Stadium, Foy was a Brooklyn Dodger fan. Foy was a terrific high school athlete and a baseball star at Evander Childs High school in the Bronx. He went unsigned after graduation and played the next year with the amateur team, the New York Billikens. He starred for the Billikens, which caught the attention of the Minnesota Twins, who signed Foy for a $5,000 bonus.
After a terrific 1962 season with Class D Erie, .285 with 76 RBI in 113 games, the Twins lost Foy to the Boston Red Sox in the 1962 minor league draft. From 1963 to 1965, Foy worked his way up the organizational ladder with steady and sometimes spectacular play. He was widely regarded as the Red Sox’s prized prospect. He had his coming out party in 1965 at AAA Toronto, when he hit .302/.379/.460 with 14 home runs and 73 RBI. He was named MVP and Rookie of the Year for the International League as well as being named Minor league Player of the Year.
He made his Major League debut with the Red Sox on April 13, 1966 and enjoyed an outstanding rookie season which saw him slash: .262/.364/.413 with 15 home runs and 63 RBI. He drew 91 walks, which was second in the American League and scored 97 runs, which was fifth-best in the circuit. His OBP was eighth-best in the AL. Tommie Agee of the White Sox had a monster year and won the Rookie of the Year award. No argument here. Jim Nash of the Kansas City Athletics went 12-1 to take second. Third was a tie between Foy’s Boston teammate George Scott and Davey Johnson of the Orioles. Scott also had a monster year, but Foy’s numbers were better than those of Johnson. He should have gotten some votes. Foy had a big presence on the Red Sox team. Carl “Bleeping” Yastrzemski was one of his closest friends on the team. Whenever there was a locker room dispute, Foy was often the player who made peace between the disagreeing parties.
In Boston, 1967 was the year of “The Impossible Dream” and Foy played a big part of that success. His offensive numbers dropped off slightly, but remember, this was an era when pitching dominated. The entire American League only had four players bat over .300. Foy struggled in the 1967 World Series, only hitting .133 as the Cardinals and Bob Gibson, ended the party in Boston.
Foy played another 150 games at third base for Boston in 1968, but his batting average slipped to .225, so the Sox left him unprotected in the 1968 expansion draft. The Royals selected Foy with the fourth pick in the draft and penciled him in as their starting third baseman.
Foy had an excellent season in Kansas City, appearing in 145 games and slashing .262/.354/.370. He had 11 home runs, a career high 71 RBI, 74 walks, 72 runs and a career high 37 stolen bases. Foy was still only 26 years old and it appeared that the Royals would be set at third base for the foreseeable future. At the baseball winter meetings in December of 1969, Royals General Manager Cedric Tallis pulled a stunner of a trade, sending Foy to the New York Mets in exchange for a young, unproven outfielder named Amos Otis and a hard throwing righthanded pitcher named Bob Johnson.
The trade was a shock, considering that the Mets had earlier turned down a Joe Torre-for-Otis swap. The Mets felt like they were a third baseman away from making the playoffs and Tallis exploited that desperation. The trade went into the annals of both teams, albeit for different reasons. Otis of course, became a star in Kansas City, a true five-tool player. Johnson had a career year with the Royals in 1970 with 206 strikeouts. Tallis then adroitly flipped Johnson to the Pirates in a package that brought Freddie Patek. At the end of the day, Foy was the currency that Tallis used to build the foundation of the winning Royal teams of the 1970’s and ‘80’s.
The trade didn’t work out so well for Foy. Many thought he cam under the influence of some of his more unsavory friends from the Bronx. His performance slipped, as he only hit .236 in 99 games. Foy often drew the ire of fans, his teammates and his manager with his play. He had some moments though. On July 19, in the second game of a twin-bill at San Francisco, Foy went five for five with a double and two home runs. He drove in five in leading the Mets to a 7-6 victory. At the end of the season, New York left him unprotected and the Washington Senators grabbed him in the Rule 5 draft. The Senators were managed by Ted Williams, who was a notorious hard ass. Williams and Foy never meshed. He only played 41 games for Washington in 1971 before being given his release, his baseball career over at the age of 28.
After his career ended, Foy struggled for a few years with alcohol and drug abuse before getting clean. He went back to school and became a counselor for troubled youth and a youth baseball coach.
On October 12, 1989, Foy suffered a fatal heart attack, gone too soon at the age of 46. Former teammates George Scott and Mike Andrews were devastated by Foy’s death. Many wrote glowing tributes to Foy, telling of his dedication to young men and what a difference he made in their lives. He was survived by his wife Sadie, son Joe Jr. and daughter Stephanie.