In Memory of Jay Dahl

I came across an article on centenarian ballplayers this morning, and read about the nine major league ball players who reached the age of 100, and two more who reached 99 (including Dummy Hoy). As a sidenote, this page that studied the longest-lived major leaguers included the shortest-lived one, as well, and that player was Jay Dahl. Here you will find two stories about Dahl, one very official and very journalistic, and one much more informal. I present them in the hope that Dahl will remain the shortest-lived major leaguer forever, that no other talent so bright that he starts a major-league game when he's only 17, will ever again have that talent ripped away from him so young, like Dahl did.

July 3, 1965

Astro Jay Dahl killed

The Sporting News and

Jay Steve Dahl, the top winner on the Salisbury Astros' staff, was fatally injured and a pitching teammate, Gary Allen Marshall, was blinded in an automobile wreck at Salisbury, N.C. June 20. The accident also claimed the life of a Salisbury secretary, Miss Patricia Ann Troutman, 20.

Authorities said the auto was apparently traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit a patch of sand on a Salisbury street ans skidded out of control for about 185 feet before slamming broadside into a tree. Miss Troutman was killed instantly.

Dahl, 19-year-old lefthander from Bloomington. Calif., died of extensive internal injuries about three hours later in Salisbury's Rowan Memorial Hospital.

Marshall, 19-year-old righthander from Hutchinson, Kan., was taken to Winston-Salem Memorial Hospital, where his injuries forced the removal of his left eye. Doctors at the hospital reported that the vision in the other eye probably was damaged beyond repair.

The Attending physician at the hospital said, "Marshall has a ninety per cent chance of survival. He has a ninety-nine and one-half per cent chance that he'll never see again."

Marshall also suffered a broken right arm and broken right leg. His father flew from Hutchinson to be at his son's bedside.

Dahl pitched Salisbury into first place in the Western Carolinas League the afternoon before the accident by beating Gastonia, 7-3. In celebration of the victory, the Astros' players were the guests that evening at a steak dinner at the home of G.M. Hamilton, Salisbury's club president. Dahl and Marshall left after dinner and attended a movie with Miss Troutman, a former Salisbury beauty contestant. They were returning her to her home when the crash occurred.

Dahl was signed by the Houston organization in June, 1963, and made a sparkling debut at Moultrie (Georgia-Florida), winning five games and losing one with an ERA of 1.42.

The Texans used him as the starting pitcher with an all-rookie lineup against the New York Mets, September 27, 1963. Dahl gave up seven runs in three innings and was charged with Houston's 10-3 defeat.

Marshall also suffered a broken right arm and broken right leg. His father flew from Hutchinson to be at his son's bedside.

Last year, back troubles kept Dahl off the pitching mound completely and he played in only 11 games as an outfielder with Statesville (Western Carolinas). Pitching again this season, he was apparently headed for advancement in the Houston organization with a 5-0 record before the fatal accident.

This was Marshall's first year in professional baseball. His record with Salisbury was 3-4, but Manager Chuck Churn said. "Marshall was a fine prospect. He had a real live arm,"

Here's a different kind of memory, from Bill Jacobs, who has been so helpful to this site. Bill was a teammate of Jay's on the '65 Salisbury team. I wrote him an email asking about Dahl, and this was his reply: (I've cleaned up his response for spelling and grammar)

Sure I remember Jay Dahl. We played high school baseball against each other. He lived in Colton, the next town to San Bernardino in Southern California. He was a year ahead of me. He was renting a room from us in Salisbury when he was killed in that car wreck with Gary Marshall. The car (a GTO) was going too fast for a curve. Jay died at the hospital, I think. Gary was blinded. Both were good pitchers.
I remember one game in Gastonia, North Carolina. . . Jay was a good hitter also. He hit a foul ball home run to left, then a foul ball home run to right, then a pitch or two later hit one over the center field fence. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it sure was a sight to see.

He was a short guy as I am. . .real strong, a lefty. It was hard packing all his belongings to send back to his family. Jay was still living at home in the winter time.

There was place there called Chip's burgers, where Jay, Linda (my wife), and I went. We all just loved plain cheeseburgers. No matter when you ordered you got them fresh and hot. Just bread meat cheese onions, hot melted. When they saw us drive up, they just would start cooking. Jay and I would eat 10 each and Linda 6-7 (she was [with child] then) . . . we just had a good time there, always.

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