Jacob L. Levy
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8 1/2", Weight 175 lb.
Jake Levy had a career in professional baseball that spanned a 26-year period, with several breaks. What has made his case even harder for baseball historians is the fact that he played under several different names (including Jack LeRoy). Overall, Levy won at least 200 games and lost 146 in the minor leagues. For some time there was a bit of dispute over the contention that he was on a major league roster, but never played a MLB game. Upon investigation, newspaper accounts from 1927 and 1928 do show this to be true.
Levy debuted in 1921 with the Tri-Cities Triplets and Greeneville Burley Cubs, then was with the 1922 Danville Veterans. In 1923, he moved on to the Charlotte Hornets, where he went 12-3 with a 4.69 ERA and hit .286 with 7 HR and 56 RBI. He did not play in Organized Baseball in 1924. Jake had a 5-5, 2.65 record for Charlotte in 1925 and batted .318 with four home runs and drove in 34. In 1926, Levy was 13-10 with a 3.66 ERA for the Hornets and batted .298 with 2 HR and 45 RBI.
In 1927, Jake had his best year in Charlotte with a 22-12, 2.73 mark and a .305 average with 4 HR and 24 RBI. He finished third in the South Atlantic League in ERA and tied for fourth in wins. Numerous newspapers reported, as early as August 5, that Levy was signed by the New York Giants. On September 8, the Buffalo Courier-Express showed that he pitched for the Giants against the Buffalo Bisons in an in-season exhibition game. He allowed two runs in the first inning but none after that in five more frames (the Giants won in the 10th). A regular-season opportunity did not come his way, though.
Levy was also in camp with the Giants in the spring of 1928. Though he did not play for New York during the regular season, he does appear to have been with the team for a few games after Opening Day, which was April 11. On April 16, various New York state newspapers reported, "Manager John McGraw of the Giants yesterday released Jake Levy, Charlotte recruit, to the Hartford Eastern League club on an optional arrangement. McGraw said Levy gave promise of developing into a great pitcher and that he wanted him to get further experience in the minors for the time being."
Horvitz and Horvitz in The Big Book of Jewish Baseball lists Jake's stint on the Giants bench as coming with the 1932 Giants. However, press evidence to support this has not yet surfaced (the website fultonhistory.com, which is a source for historical issues of New York State newspapers, does not show anything for 1932).
In 1928, Jake swung a mean stick for the Hartford Senators, producing at a .375/.491/.534 clip; he was one of the top hitters in the Eastern League but only had 88 AB. He was 7-4 on the mound with a 3.66 ERA. As he played in 58 games and only pitched in 13 of them without playing the field as many as 10 times at any other position, he presumably was Hartford's main pinch-hitter.
Returning to Allentown in 1930, Levy had a 15-16, 4.21 record and hit .283 with one homer and 18 RBI. In 1931, Jake struggled with Allentown and the Richmond Byrds, going 5-9 with a 4.47 ERA and hitting only .214 with 2 HR and 14 RBI. It appears to be the last year he batted regularly when not pitching.
In 1932, The Big Book of Jewish Baseball lists him with the Knoxville Smokies and on the bench of the New York Giants but Pat Doyle's database has him out of baseball until 1936 and the Minor League Register]] concurs.
Levy joined the Savannah Indians in 1936 and went 17-14 with a 2.95 ERA. He tied for sixth in the South Atlantic League in wins and was in the top 10 in ERA. In 1937, Jake had a 20-8, 3.72 line for Savannah. He finished second to Art Evans in the SAL in victories. In his third year with Savannah, the minor league veteran had a record of 10-9, 4.82 for the pennant winners. Jake hit .231/~.355/.288.
One report from June 1940 shows Levy with the Bona Allen Shoe Company team of Buford, Georgia.
Jake resurfaced in Organized Baseball in 1941 with the Gadsden Pilots and going 10-14 with a 4.48 ERA. In 1942, Levy was 20 years away from the start of his career but posted his lowest ERA yet when he was 16-8 with a 1.85 ERA for the Macon Peaches. He tied for 6th in the SALLY league in wins and possibly led in ERA.
In 1943, Levy began his last run, with the Portsmouth Cubs. He topped his 1942 ERA mark by going 13-4 with a 1.49 ERA and hit .304/~.371/.411. In a pitching-rich season, Jake trailed both Garland Braxton (0.74) and Al Gettel (1.47) in ERA. Jake walked 26 in 163 innings only. His 7 shutouts were the all-time Piedmont League record. In 1944, Jake had a 14-12, 2.27 record for Portsmouth and batted .279/~.430/.294 as the old-timer showed he could still swing a bat. He walked 47 in 210 innings pitched. When manager Bill Steinecke was sold to the New York Yankees on August 25, Levy was put in temporary charge of the team until Jimmie Foxx could make it from Chicago to take over.
Jake faded to 7-7, 3.27 for Portsmouth in 1945 and then concluded his long career by going 2-2 with a 6.75 RA for the 1946 edition of the team.
Levy was also known for playing the volin.
Sources: 1929-1930 and 1939 Spalding Guides, 1945 and 1947 Baseball Guides, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database and e-mail from Doyle re: Levy's record, The Big Book of Jewish Baseball by Peter Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz, The Minor League Register ed. by W. Lloyd Johnson