Where are they now? Jay Hook

Where are they now? Jay Hook

Jay Hook has always had a passion for cars.

In his garage sits a BMW M3, which, at the time of purchase, had a warning on the windshield: "For the first 1,500 miles, do not go over 115 mph," Hook said.

One perk of being a Mets union player rep in 1964 was Chrysler handing him the keys to a Plymouth Fury as a way of commemorating Shea Stadium's opening. Later that year, at the age of 28 -- two years after pitching the expansion Mets to their first win -- Hook would leave a baseball for a job with Chrysler.

Hook barely spoke of his playing days at the corporation. He just wanted to learn about cars, plopping more knowledge on top of a mechanical engineering degree from Northwestern.

With "five years and 10 days" of service in the Major Leagues -- enough to garner his pension -- Hook retired with a 29-62 record in parts of eight seasons with the Reds and Mets. That victory on April 23, 1962, which pushed the inaugural Mets' record to 1-9, was just a lonely career highlight for a self-admitted "average baseball player."

"It's a little known fact that you can win money on, you know? Trivial Pursuit or something," Hook kidded about that historic start.

Post-baseball life affords Hook the comfort to laugh at it all. He went on to spend four years with Chrysler until he left for work with Rockwell International, overseeing business operations that included production of heavy-duty truck parts and undercarriages for the New York and Atlanta subway systems.

Then, Hook was recruited by Masco Corporation to manage six of its companies. Before leaving in 1992, Hook supervised 20 companies and estimates Masco -- now one of the world's largest manufacturers and distributors of products for the home and family (windows, faucets, cabinets, etc.) -- jumped from an annual $600 million in sales when he arrived to its current $10-12 billion a year.

Stock options and other work-related income allowed Hook to retire, teach manufacturing management classes at Northwestern for a few years, and, eventually, spoil his 13 grandchildren with a "user-friendly farm" in northern Michigan. One of them is an accurate pitcher, Hook said, about as talented as he was at 12.

ARI: Travis Lee | ATL: Mark Lemke
BAL: Chris Hoiles | BOS: Bill Lee
CHC: Randy Hundley | CIN: Eric Davis
CWS: Dan Pasqua | CLE: Dave Burba
COL: Curtis Leskanic | DET: Steve Sparks
FLA: Charlie Hough | HOU: Doug Drabek
KC: Mike Macfarlane | LAA: Rick Reichardt
LAD: Jim Gott | MIL: Don Sutton
MIN: Kevin Tapani | NYM: Ed Kranepool
NYY: Jim Abbott | OAK: Ben Grieve
PHI: Tommy Greene | PIT: Barry Jones
STL: B. Tewksbury | SD: C. Hernandez
SF: Brian Johnson | SEA: Henry Cotto
TB: Doug Creek | TEX: Dave Hostetler
TOR: Alex Gonzalez | WAS: W. Fryman

At about 170 acres, Hook's residence has a barn with basketball courts, a four-wheeler to ride around and plenty of woods for his married children to hunt deer. Hook also remains active in the community, serving on the foundation board at local Northwest Michigan College and remaining a trustee of a Methodist seminary at Northwestern.

"When you don't want any pay, there are a lot of things you can do," Hook jokes.

On some mornings, Hook cuts 20 acres of hay in the morning; he'll let it dry, bail it and ship a load out to neighbors feeding their alpacas and llamas. Then, maybe Hook and his wife will take a ride on their Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Not a bad life for a 71-year-old answer to a trivia question, who can boast about his BMW fit for the German Audubon.

"That's why I got into engineering, originally," Hook tells his interviewer. "I had suped up a car before your parents were born."

Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.