In 1982 Ray became the first Pirate selected as NL Rookie of the Year, playing 162 games and hitting .281. Though he led NL second basemen in errors, he also led in putouts, assists, and total chances. The disciplined, switch-hitting, gap hitter tied for the NL lead with 38 doubles in both 1983 and 1984, and proved one of baseball's toughest batters to strike out. In 1986 he tied a ML second basemen's record for fewest errors (150 or more games), with five.
Traded to the Angels late in 1987, he was tried in left field, but moved back to second base when Mark McLemore was injured. Ray, who had twice led the league in doubles, had 42 in 1988 and beat out more prominent teammates like Wally Joyner and Chili Davis for California's lone All-Star spot. Though his batting average remained respectable over the next two years, his gap power dropped, and he retired after the 1990 season. (ME/JT)
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»May 15, 1982: Pirate pitcher Rick Rhoden makes his 12–9 win over the Reds a little easier when he doubles and homers in the Bucs' 9-run 3rd inning. Johnny Ray drives in five runs in the big inning. The Reds make it close with eight runs in the 8th and 9th.
»August 29, 1987:
Two American League West contenders attempt to bolster their rosters for the stretch run. The Angels trade two minor leaguers for Pittsburgh 2B Johnny Ray, and the A's send minor leaguer P Tim Belcher to the Dodgers for P Rick Honeycutt. Honeycutt (2–12), loser of his last 11 games with the Dodgers, will drop two more with the A's before beating the Indians on September 22.