Ray Jarvis was born in Providence on May 10, 1946 and grew up on Smith Hill.
He played from the fifth grade for St. Patrick’s CYO, where he played baseball and basketball. But it was primarily a basketball neighborhood that he lived in and they won the New England and state championships year after year.
He played CYO baseball, played Babe Ruth League baseball, and then he went and played in high school and played American Legion at the same time, and then after the completion of his junior year, he played down the Cape, in Chatham.
It was at Chatham in 1965 that he first caught the eye of the Red Sox. His signing bonus was $7,500, a sizable one by the standards of the day. Boston’s first-round draft pick (fifth pick overall) was Billy Conigliaro, who signed for a reported $50,000.
In 1966, after eight weeks of basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and eight weeks advanced artillery training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Ray was proficient in firing a 105 howitzer.
Ray and the Red Sox had to jump through some hoops in order for him to continue to play ball. Because the team wanted to send him to other states, and the National Guard is a state unit, he transferred out of the Guard into the US Army Control Group in 1966. The following year, President Johnson ordered all inactive reservists to enter reserve unit or active duty. Ray joined the Army Reserve and had to attend regular Reserve unit meetings for six years.
The Sox assigned him to the Waterloo Hawks (Midwest League) in Waterloo, Iowa. In 1967, while the Sox were in pursuit of the Impossible Dream, Ray was living a dream of his own, with the Waterloo Hawks. He started 26 games and put up a record of 15-8, with a 2.04 ERA. Not surprisingly, he was named to the league’s all-star team
In 1968, he was assigned laterally to another Single-A ball club, the Carolina League’s Winston-Salem Red Sox, and he seemed to flounder there. Then despite climbing two rungs up the ladder to the Triple A Louisville Colonels, under Eddie Kasko, Jarvis finished 6-6 with a 3.28 ERA. His fine half-season got him promoted to the 40-man roster in October.
In 1969, Ray received his first invitation to spring training with the big-league club. There were openings on the Red Sox pitching staff in 1969. On Opening Day 1969, Ray Jarvis was in uniform and a member of the Boston Red Sox.
When the season ended, he had a 4.75 ERA with a 5-6 record. He also walked more batters than he struck out, something that plagued him throughout his career.
From late in July into early August, Ray joined the 76th Division Army Reserves training at Fort Dix for his required two weeks of duty. This was also the year that he first developed shoulder problems. He continued to pitch whenever they asked him to pitch, and just do the best he could do. Some days he started, sometimes he pitched long relief, sometimes he pitched short relief. Whatever they wanted, Ray would do but he was hurting myself more and more. He was taking shots and he was taking these pills, and he couldn’t even turn the wheel of his car. But he was damned if he was going to tell them he couldn’t pitch
Ray started the 1970 season with the Red Sox, but by late May Jose Santiago was ready to come back from the surgery that had kept him out of action for just over a year and Ray had appeared in 12 games, and had a 2.92 ERA working in relief.
In May, Santiago was called up from Louisville and Ray was the man optioned out. He worked most of the year for the Colonels again and in September he was one of seven players called back up.
Less than a month later, in mid-October, he was packaged in a large six-player trade to the Angels. It was a bit of a shocker. The Red Sox hometown hero Tony Conigliaro was sent westward, with Ray and Jerry Moses. The Red Sox picked up Ken Tatum, Doug Griffin and Jarvis Tatum. Ray never played in the majors again. He went to 1971 spring training with the Angels, and was cut on the final day.
He worked in sales and as the assistant baseball coach at Bryant College for four years from 1976 on, and was the pitching coach for Providence College from 1989 to 1993. In the early 1990s, he took a position in the security department at Providence College as a supervisor.
Ray Jarvis fought cancer in his later life and died in Austin, Texas on April 24, 2020, due to complications from multiple myeloma, at age 74.