Joseph Francis Connolly
Born: February 1, 1884 - North Smithfield, RI
Died: September 1, 1943 - North Smithfield, RI
Career BA: .288
Boston Braves NL (February 1, 1884 - September 1, 1943)
Had his career not been curtailed by a serious ankle injury, Joe Connolly probably would have been very successful as a ballplayer. Sometimes life takes a strange turn but things still work out pretty well. Coming up through the Minor League ranks, Connolly started out as a pitcher, but quickly realized that he was a much better hitter. As a .300 hitter in the minors, Connolly finally got his shot in 1913 with the Braves.
Growing up in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, he was thrilled to be playing for the “home” team. As a 29-year-old rookie, Joe batted a very respectable .281, but a broken ankle curtailed his season. Although he lost a step in his play, Connolly came back in the 1914 season to bat .306 and helped the “Miracle Braves” on their famous run from last place in July to winning the pennant and beating Connie Macks’ Athletics juggernaut in four games. Over the next two years, Connolly’s ankle became very bothersome and his production began to wane. He was sent down to the minors but he soon retired to farming and playing semi-pro ball.
The story does not quite end there. Joe Connolly went on to become one of the favorite sons of the state of Rhode Island. He spent many hours working with youth groups throughout the state, become a town council member in North Smithfield, proceeded into the state legislature and went on to become a state senator. Joe Connolly did not necessarily leave his mark on baseball, but certainly left it on his beloved “Rhody.”
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html