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Red Ruffing

A photo of Red Ruffing.

Charles Herbert "Red" Ruffing (May 3 1905 - February 17 1986) was a Major League Baseball pitcher most remembered for his time with the highly successful New York Yankees teams of the 1930s and 1940s.

Major League Career[]

Born in Granville, Illinois, Ruffing suffered the loss of four toes on his left foot in a freak mine accident (in Coalton, Illinois) as a youth. Subsequently transformed from an outfielder to a pitcher, Ruffing made his major league debut in 1924 with the Boston Red Sox, pitching without a decision over 23 innings of work. He saw regular playing time with the Sox over the next few years but had limited success. His best year, in terms of earned run performance, came in 1928, when he posted a respectable 3.89 ERA; however, he also received abysmal offensive support and consequently suffered 25 losses to only 10 wins. Ruffing led the American League with 25 complete games in 1929 while pitching for the Red Sox.

Ruffing's career was renewed by a mid-season trade in 1930 which sent him to the New York Yankees. Buoyed by the offensive production of greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, he won 15 games after the trade despite a hefty 4.14 ERA. Ruffing eventually turned into an ace, winning 20 games or more four times in a row from 1936 to 1939, and striking out a league high 190 batters in 1932. He regularly contended for the ERA crown, twice posting ERAs under 3.00, and appeared in seven World Series, won six (1932, 1936-1939 and 1941), and posted a 7-2 career post-season record with a 2.63 ERA. Whitey Ford surpassed Ruffing with 236 wins for the Yankees, but Ruffing still holds the Yankee record of 232 wins by a righthanded pitcher.

On August 13 1932, Red Ruffing threw a complete-game shutout and hit a 10th inning home run off Washington Senators pitcher Al Thomas to give the New York Yankees a 1-0 victory. ([1]). Although Ruffing was not the first to achieve the feat, through the 2006 season, no Major League pitcher has since thrown a complete game shutout and hit a home run in a 1-0 game. This feat also means that he was responsible for BOTH of the scores on the scoreboard in the victory. Ruffing is one of only three pitchers in Major League history to win a game 1-0, hit a home run in the game, and strike out 10 or more batters. The others are Early Wynn, who achieved the feat in 1957, and Yovani Gallardo, who did it in 2009.

After missing the 1943 and 1944 seasons due to the war, Ruffing was unable to regain his ace material upon returning in 1945. After moving to the Chicago White Sox in 1947, he retired. He finished his career with 273 wins, 225 losses, 1987 strikeouts and a 3.80 ERA. Ruffing was also an accomplished hitter, hitting 36 home runs and batting .269 in 1937 career at-bats. Ruffing set a record for pitchers with 8 .300 seasons as a batter. Ruffing holds the New York Yankee record with 232 wins by a righthanded pitcher - and is 2nd on the all-time Yankee list to lefthander Whitey Ford (236).

Ruffing was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967 by the BBWAA, after several near-misses, in a run-off election, defeating Joe Medwick. Red Ruffing was the first pitcher since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1938 to be the only candidate elected in a BBWAA election. A few years later, Ruffing suffered a serious stroke and was confined to a wheelchair - but he continued making annual trips to Cooperstown. At an Old Timers Day Ceremony on July 10, 2004, the Yankees dedicated a plaque in his memory to hang in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. His plaque was transfered to the new Yankee Stadium in 2009.

A museum in Nokomis, Illinois is dedicated to Ruffing and other Hall of Famers Ray Schalk and Jim Bottomley.

See also[]

External links[]

Preceded by:
Lefty Grove
American League Strikeout Champion
Succeeded by:
Lefty Gomez
Preceded by:
Lefty Gomez
American League Wins Champion
Succeeded by:
Bob Feller