Jay King Towne
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 180 lb.
- Debut August 1, 1906
- Final Game October 6, 1906
- Born March 12, 1880 in Coon Rapids, IA USA
- Died October 29, 1938 in Des Moines, IA USA
"The loss of Sullivan and Tannehill, coming at the crucial moment of the flag race, was a terrific blow. Sully's injury was caused by a hot foul from Bernhard's bat. . . This threw the burden on the wide shoulders of Jay Towne, the rural recruit. Towne went into the breach manfully and catching very decently . . . when he suddenly developed a bad shoulder probably strained in sliding. This threw him out of it and left Hub Hart to do the work. Hart caught a game, and was so lame he could hardly wiggle. Comiskey, who was by this time desperate for a catcher, then got Frank Roth from Milwaukee . . ." - Sporting Life of Sept. 22, 1906, discussing the travails of the 1906 White Sox who would nevertheless go on to win the 1906 World Series
Jay "Babe" Towne was one of the first major leaguers nicknamed "Babe" (Babe Adams also came up in 1906). Towne played for the Chicago White Sox in 1906, getting into 14 games and posting an on-base percentage of .395. He collected a hit in each of his first five major league at-bats, spread over three weeks, going 8 for 16 in his first 7 games, and 2 for 17 in his last 7. He appeared in the 1906 World Series, against the Chicago Cubs, but did not play another major league game after that.
Towne was born in Coon Rapids, IA, a town which currently has around 1,300 people. He is the only major leaguer who has been born there. Two other future major leaguers were born in Iowa in 1880, of which one, Harry Eells, also came up in 1906 for 14 games. The third, Con Starkel, came up in 1906 but only for one game.
Towne played over a decade in the minors and managed five seasons. Much of his minor league career was spent in the Western League with Iowa-based teams such as Des Moines and Sioux City. He may not have played for part or all of 1908 due to injuries (see Sporting Life, July 4, 1908)
It was reported in 1909 that he sold his pool and billiard parlors in Coon Rapids because he couldn't run them and play ball too. Perhaps with the money he received, he bought a half-interest in the Sioux City team.
Sporting Life called him Babe about half the time and Jay about half the time.