Monday, September 14, 2015

Johnny Ray, Best Pitch - 8

Originally published Jan. 31, 2014
Speaking to a group of high school players at a pitching camp in 2010, Johnny Ray asked the young players what the best pitch in the game is, according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

After hearing different pitches called out, Ray gave the correct answer.

"No, strike one is the best pitch in baseball," Ray told them, according to The Commercial Appeal. "Get ahead (in the count) and make them work for it."

Ray spoke then as head baseball coach at Marshall Academy, near Memphis, in Mississippi. He also spoke with the experience of five seasons spent in the Cincinnati Reds organization. That experience saw Ray make AA, but not make it higher.

Ray's career in baseball began in 1989, signed by the Reds as an undrafted free agent out of Delta State University.

Ray played his first year in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 6-2, with a 2.72 ERA over 10 starts.

He moved to single-A Charleston in 1990 and started to win. He went 14-7 there in 1990, then 16-9 for Charleston in 1991.

Ray stayed in single-A for 1992, moving to Cedar Rapids and the Midwest League. He also helped the Cedar Rapids Reds to the Midwest League championship. In the championship game, he went the distance, while striking out 13.

Ray also first made AA Chattanooga in 1992. In 24 outings there, one start, Ray compiled an ERA of 3.63. He returned to Chattanooga for 1993. In 30 outings there, eight starts, Ray went 3-7, with a 6.82 ERA.

He picked up one of his wins in a July game, but shoulder surgery made that his final season as a pro.

Ray went on to be assistant coach at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis, becoming head coach there in 2004, according to The Desoto Times. He also earned his state coaches association's JUCO Coach of the Year honors. He became head coach at Marshall Academy in 2008,  staying there through 2010.

In 2010, Ray was inducted into the Northwest Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame.

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