SAGINAW COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME
Joseph J. (Joey) James owned the Joey James Tavern, dubbed the Atwater Athletic Club by its many regulars, and was a long-time sponsor of baseball and softball teams in Saginaw. After attending high school at Saginaw High School, he entered the service where he was the All-Army handball singles champion in 1944. He later was a standout baseball player in the city’s Industrial Baseball loop. James managed and played second base for Garber and Draper softball teams from 1935 to World War II. The Garber team won the Michigan Major League championships in 1938, ’39 and ’40. He sponsored and managed ‘The Jays’ in the Saginaw Recreation Department’s Knothole Baseball League. He developed baseball talent in the area as he hand-picked a group of Saginaw boys in the 10-12 year-old bracket and managed the squad until they were in their late teens. The Jays also played in the American Legion baseball program and remained together to become one of the finest teams of young ball players in the country under James’ tutelage. Several signed professional contracts, including Major Leaguer Al Luplow and Minor Leaguers Ray Pope, Don Lewis, Tom Brown and Gene Bohn. Other standout players included Deb Blondin, Ron Spica and Jim Gorsline. Other successful Jays included Sonny Means, former Western Michigan University head basketball coach, Jim Sparling, former administrative assistant to Congressman James Harvey, and Jim Terrell, a former scout for the Baltimore Orioles. James died on November 2, 1967, at the age of 60. He is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Saginaw.
CLASS OF 2008