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Lefty McKay


Date and Place of Birth: March 31, 1906 Norfolk, VA
Date and Place of Death:    June 5, 1943 Myrtle Beach, SC
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Technician Fifth Grade
Military Unit: U.S. Army
Area Served: United States

Arthur R. “Lefty” McKay, son of Hugh and Margaret McKay, was born in Norfolk, Virginia on March 31, 1906. He grew up in the Tanner’s Creek district with his elder siblings Hugh, Jr., and Margaret. In 1918, his father, Hugh, passed away and the family moved in with his maternal grandparents.

McKay’s first flirtation with professional baseball was in April 1927, aged 21, when he was signed by the hometown Norfolk Tars of the Class C Piedmont League. Whether the 6-foot-2-inch left-hander pitched a regular season game for the Tars is unclear but in June he was sold to the Northampton Red Sox of the Class D Eastern Shore League who gave him his release the same month.

In 1928, McKay was signed by the newly formed Wilmington Pirates of the Class D Eastern Carolina League and made 26 appearances for an 8-13 won-loss record and 3.53 ERA to help the Pirates to a first-place finish. Despite a losing record, this strong season saw the 23-year-old sold to the Macon Peaches of the Class B Sally League in the spring of 1929, and he spent spring training with the parent-club Brooklyn Dodgers at Clearwater, Florida. Unfortunately, the anticipated continuation of last season’s form didn’t materialise. He made just three appearances for an 0-1 record with the Peaches before being assigned to the Rocky Mount Buccaneers, Brooklyn’s affiliate in the Eastern Carolina League, where he pitched in no more than a handful of games. He was returned to Macon in September and was released by the club the following spring.

McKay didn’t play baseball in 1930. It’s possible he’d injured his arm the previous season and most likely went to work in Norfolk with his brother as a printer at a local newspaper – something he certainly did later in life. In 1931, he was signed by the Columbus Red Birds, a St. Louis Cardinals farm club of the Class AA American Association, and sent to the Danville Veterans of the Class B Three-I League. McKay made seven appearances for a 1-3 record with Danville before being assigned in July to the Scottdale Cardinals of the Class C Middle-Atlantic League where he was 1-0 in two games before being on the move again. In late June, he joined the Greensboro Patriots of the Class C Piedmont League, making eight appearances before heading on to the Elmira Colonels of the Class B New York-Penn League in August. In seven appearances with the Colonels he had an 0-5 record.

In 1931, despite all his travels and up and down performances, McKay was still viewed as a prospect and was with the St. Louis Cardinals in Bradenton, Florida for spring training in 1932. The Cardinals assigned him to Greensboro in March, then back to Elmira in the New York-Penn League in May and almost immediately on to the Harrisburg Senators of the same league. McKay made just five appearances for the Senators for an 0-2 record and was released in June.

Approaching 27 years of age, it was announced McKay had signed with the Durham Bulls of the Piedmont League in January 1933, but by the time spring training came around he was with the Richmond Colts of the same league. However, he wasn’t able to stick with the club and spent the summer with the Martin Sales team of the Intercity League in Richmond.

McKay’s professional baseball career had come to an end and he spent the next few years working as a printer. On March 18, 1942, and approaching his 36th birthday, McKay entered military service with the Army at Camp Lee, Virginia. On the same day, Martha Emma “Mattie” Gannaway was granted a divorce from her estranged first husband. Mattie and McKay were married shortly afterwards.

McKay was stationed at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as a technician fifth grade. At 11:55pm on June 5, 1943, he died from a gunshot wound at the army camp. The circumstances surrounding his death are unknown. Whether it was suicide, murder or an accident, I’ve not been able to ascertain. Four months later his wife gave birth to their son, Arthur, Jr.

Arthur “Lefty” McKay is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia.













1927 Norfolk Piedmont C - - - - - - - -
1927 Northampton Eastern Shore D - - - - - - - -
1928 Wilmington E. Carolina D 26 163 64 91 - 8 13 3.53
1929 Macon Sally B 3 - - - - 0 1 -
1929 Rocky Mount E. Carolina D - - - - - - -  
1931 Danville Three-I B 7 40 - - - 1 3 -
1931 Scottsdale Mid-Atlantic C 2 12 - - - 1 0 -
1931 Greensboro Piedmont C 8 31 - 25 - 0 1 -
1931 Elmira NY-Penn B 7 44 - - - 0 5 -
1932 Greensboro Piedmont C - - - - - - - -
1932 Elmira NY-Penn B - - - - - - - -
1932 Harrisburg NY-Penn B 5 22 - - - 0 2 -
1933 Richmond Piedmont C - - - - - - - -


Arthur "Lefty" McKay

Thanks to Chris Woodman for "discovering" Lefty McKay and allowing me the opportunity to include him as part of the Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice family.

Date Added July 28, 2020

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