Javery was Oxford’s Major League Star  
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seated in one of the chairs in Erich Wenc’s Oxford Center barbershop one recent morning, I realized that sports is a big thing with Mr. Wenc and his associate, Donna (Foley) Dion.

They’re in a talk-and-serve business, searching for customer sentiments and responding accordingly. Waiting time has taught me that their mostly young to middle-age clientele is interested in New England’s major sports teams, fancy automobiles, regional attractions, national headlines, politics and bargains. If there’s an emphasis to anything, it’s sports.

Mr. Wenc and Ms. Dion seem equal to the task, though cross-chair dialogue takes hold at times. The tonsorial artists mirror their favorites. Customers checking cuts in progress are apt to notice a nice photograph of Boston’s Ted Williams, probably on his last major league turn at bat, over the Wenc corner, and a couple of pugilistic poses on Ms. Dion’s side of the room.

The Wenc photo says baseball, all the way back to Teddy Ballgame. The Dion prints suggest, “Meet my Daddy — boxer William Patrick ‘Pinky: Foley.’ ” It was my turn to move from the third chair front to the Wenc cutting perch. I turned dialogue to Oxford’s major league representative — Al “Beartracks” Javery — and struck out .

“Al who?” responded Erich. “Can’t say I ever heard of him.” His full name was Alva William Javery, and I tried to draw from his major league career, 1940 to 1946, all with the Boston Braves, even though I had only read about him as an elementary school student, and then because of his Oxford roots. He was special, like Gene Desautels of Quinebaug, who caught for four major league teams, including the Boston Red Sox, again because of his home address.

I fell to a follow-up position. Mr. Wenc, as caretaker to Oxford’s one-on-one talk post, southeast corner to town central, ought to offer some type of Al Javery review, just so the town’s well-groomed gentlemen might appreciate that one of their ancients (meaning 1940s diamond performers) posted a 53-74 won-lost record for a mostly second-division Braves team. Wenc’s a young guy, raised in Grafton, so I overlooked his short take on local baseball history, even though chances are he never saw his hero, Ted Williams, in action.

Turning right from Main Street onto Sutton Avenue in Oxford to just three doors away, I brought my Javery quest to Richard L.Polletta, owner of D&J’s Sports Cards place, with thousands of pictures of major sports luminaries, even some from ancient times. Mr. Polletta has Webster roots but must have run into the Al Javery tale at some point, I figured. The guy came from Oxford. With only my pronunciation of the Javery name, Ms. Polletta said he knew a Larry Gevry who, like his father, Louis T. Polletta, was a retired Webster police officer.

Then, with a little “got you” smile, the sports cards dealer said he’d check. I knew he would when I met this wife, Jayne L. Moffat-Polletta, at the doors to St. Louis Church on July 4th. She knew about my inquiry.

A 1943 “Play Ball” card was in an aside to Mr. Polletta’s Oxford store a few days later. “No pitcher in the major leagues hurled more innings than Al did during the 1943 season,” it says. “The Braves workhorse hurled 303 innings and posted a 17-16 record for the 6th place club. Those 17 victories were the fifth highest total in the league with 134 strikeouts. Al appeared in 43 games, including 35 as a starter and posted five shutouts, 19 completed games, and a 3.21 ERA. A member of the Braves starting rotation since 1941, Al led the National League in games started (37) in 1942.”

The microfiche file at Corbin Public Library subsequently confirmed what I already knew: Al Javery broke into the majors with the Boston Braves at age 21. Casey Stengel, who would go on to become a legendary skipper with the New York Yankees, was his manager, and his first major league victory was over the Brooklyn Dodgers on Labor Day in 1941.

The Boston Braves played at what is now the Boston University baseball field before they moved to Milwaukee and later to Atlanta. Al Javery had a fairly short career in the majors, shortened because of arm troubles, but he shouldn’t be forgotten in his home town.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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