Joseph Anthony Foy was born on February 21, 1943 in the Bronx, New York. He attended Evander Child’s high school on Gun Hill Road in the early sixties, & was a standout baseball player. He originally got signed by the Minnesota Twins in early 1962 but was then drafted away by the Boston Red Sox later that year.
In 1965 he won the International League batting title , hitting .302 with 14 HRs & 73 RBIs at AAA Toronto. He was named the Minor League Player of the Year & the league’s MVP. In his rookie year of 1966 he got the job as the Red Sox everyday third baseman replacing the departed, Frank Malzone.
Foy deuted in the second Sox game of the year at Fenway Park going 0-3 against the Baltimore Orioles. In just his third career game he was in the Bronx where he had grown up playing against the AL New York team. He got his first career hit that day, an RBI double off Bob Friend, as the Red Sox went on to an 8-5 win. Foy started out slow not getting above the .200 mark until mid May.
He had a fine Rookie year, coming in second in the league in walks (91) fourth in triples (8) fifth in runs scored (97) & eighth in on base % (.364). He hit .262 with 15 HRs 23 doubles, 63 RBIs & was rated the leagues fifth best third baseman.
In the Red Sox 1967 "Impossible Dream" Pennant season, Foy saw action in 118 games at third base, but led the league in errors for the first of two straight seasons. At the plate he hit .252 with 16 HRs 22 doubles 4 triples and 49 RBIs.
On a road trip to New York that summer, he learned of a fire at his family’s house & that it was burning down while on his way to the ballpark located less than a mile away. In that series he was involved in a bench clearing brawl when he was hit in the helmet with a pitch by Thad Tillotson. Foy just went to first base after he was beaned, but when Sox pitcher Jim Lonborg retaliated against Tillotson, when he came to bat, the two pitchers had words. Foy stepped in & said “why don’t you just fight me since it all started with me”. The benches cleared & a full scale brawl ensued.
Foy enjoyed some fame appearing in photo in Life magazine that season as well, although not as the main figure. The magazine did an article of Triple Crown Winner Carl Yastrzemski, and it featured a photo of Yaz jokingly tackling Foy in the Boston club house.
In the 1967 World Series Foy hit only .133 (2-15) playing in six games, driving in one run. In 1968 Foy was selected by the expansion Kansas City Royals & became an original Royal, the next season. On Kansas City's Opening Day, Foy was the team's first cleanup hitter, going 1-6 that day. He played mostly at third base (113 games) but he made 17 errors, the Royals also tried him at first base & in the outfield. At bat he hit .262 with 11 HRs 71 RBIs & 72 runs scored, stealing 37 bases (fifth in the AL).
His stay in K.C. was short though, when on December 3rd, 1969 the New York Mets made another one of their worst trades. In trying to solve their long time third base problem, they sent a young Amos Otis & Bob Johnson to the Royals for Joe Foy. Otis went on to play seventeen seasons in Kansas City, making five All Star teams, winning three Gold Gloves. He hit over .290 five times, stole thirty or more bases five times, also leading the league in doubles twice & stolen bases once. Pitcher Bob Johnson struck out 200 batters going 7-8 in 1970 & then was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for short stop Fred Patek. What a deal the Foy fiasco turned out to be for the Royals & their future.
Foy was in the 1970 Mets Opening Day lineup, batting in the third position, going hitless with a sac fly RBI. He never got it going at the plate finishing up at .206 hitting his only HR that month against the Phillies on April 19th. That month he did drive in runs in three straight games against the Phillies at home. Foy did have a few shining moments in a Mets uniform; On May 3rd his 7th inning double off the Padres Pat Dobson in a game at San Diego broke a 2-2 ties & was the games winning run.
He would miss some action in June playing in just 12 games that month. His best month would be July and in the middle of the month he had a seven game hit streak on a West Coast road trip. In that series he had a three hit game in Los Angeles & a huge five hit day in San Francisco.
On July 19th in the second game of a Mets Giants doubleheader, Foy had five hits, hitting two HRs & driving in five runs. His tenth inning HR off Don McMahon proved to be the game winner in the Mets 7-6 victory. When the Padres visited Shea at the end of the month, he added another RBI hit & then scored the tying run on Tommie Agee's double in a Mets comeback win.
On August 5th Foy came to bat with the bases loaded & two out in the bottom of the 9th inning in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Reds pitcher Wayne Granger walked Foy allowing the winning run to score and crediting Foy with a game winning RBI.
As the season went on Foy never fit in with Gil Hodges ballclub. He was back in his hometown of New York City playing with the Mets, and hooked up with the wrong crowd from his old neighborhood. He got mixed up in drugs and developed an addiction problem.
During a summer double header, he noticeably appeared to under the influence of something during the game. In the opening game, he stood in front of manager Gil Hodges and began cheering a pitch loudly while awkwardly laughing. Hodges chose to start him in the nightcap to prove a point to his team. A hard grounder was hit to Foy at third and he never saw it. Reportedly even after the ball passed him he kept shouting "hit it to me". Pitcher Jerry Koosman & his team mates were furious, but Hodges made his point- "this guy doesn't belong here!"
1970 was his only season with the Mets, Foy saw action in 99 games, batting .236 with 6 HRs 12 doubles 68 walks & 36 RBIs. His best stats were his 22 stolen bases, although he was thrown out 13 times & his .367 on base %. At third base he made 18 errors & certainly wasn’t the answer to the Mets third base puzzle. He was picked up by the Washington Senators in 1971 (Rule 5 draft) and hit .234 in just 41 games before getting sent to the minors.
He finished out his career playing in 15 games at AAA Denver, getting released in July. In his six year career, Foy was a lifetime .248 hitter with 615 hits 58 HRs 102 doubles 99 stolen bases 390 walks, a .351 on base % & 291 RBIs, playing in 716 games.
Retirement: Foy did give back to the community, appearing at Mets events, teaching children to play ball & coached little league in the South Bronx as well. Sadly he had his demons & maybe wasn't given enough of a chance by M. Donald Grant & the organization.
The Mets tried Bob Aspromonte at third in 1971, Jim Fregosi in 1972 and neither one worked out either. Eventually Wayne Garrett got the job and in 1973 the Mets went to another World Series. Garrett remained at third for the good part of four seasons.
Passing: In 1989 Joe Foy died of a heart attack in the Bronx, New York at the age of 46.