Alton B. Clay, born in Joplin February 23, 1924, graduated from Baxter Springs, Kansas High School in 1942 after a celebrated high school career that saw him participate in baseball, basketball, and football.
He was drafted into the United States Army in 1942 and served our country in World War II from 1943-1946 where he earned the rank of Sergeant.
Following his service, Clay began his professional baseball career with the Joplin Rockets of the Independent Negro League in 1947. In 1948, Clay spent time with three teams, the New York Black Yankees of the Negro National League, the Atlanta Black Crackers of the Negro Southern League and the Joplin Rockets.
From 1949-1950, Clay was a member of the New York Black Yankees, from 1951-1954 was a member of the Joplin Rockets and from 1955-1958 a member of the Joplin All0Stars. He was member of the Treece, Kansas National Baseball Congress World Series team in 1958.
Clay participated in an era of Negro League Baseball that included such greats as Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella, Larry Doby, and Jackie Robinson and was a teammate with the 1950 New York Black Yankees with Elston “School Boy” Howard who later became the first black player to wear a New York Yankees uniform.
Following his professional baseball career, Clay participated in local softball leagues and tournaments.
Clay was a 6-foot-5 switch hitter who played first base, outfield and pitcher during his career. Those who played with Mr. Clay described him as an athlete who could hit, run, throw and catch and was as talented as they come.
Clay passed away August 15, 1998 and rests in Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery in Joplin.