Red Ruffing: Baseball Pitcher, 1905 - 1986

Charles Herbert Ruffing was born in Granville, Illinois on May 3, 1905. When he was young, a mine accident took four of the toes on his left foot, which is probably why he became a pitcher instead of an outfielder or some other position. Ruffing has said that the pain never ceased.

He joined the Red Sox at age 19. From 1924 to 1930, his team consistantly came in last place, and Ruffing suffered with a record of 39-96. In 1928 Red had 25 losses; in 1929, 22 losses. His team was always last in batting and averaged 35 home runs annually.

In 1930, he transfered to the Yankees. Boston ownership, badly in need of money, sold Ruffing to New York for outfielder Cedric Durst and $50,000. In the 15 seasons after that, the Yankees won seven pennants and six World Series. The batting average was .276 with 146 home runs a year. Ruffing led the 1935 Yankees with a batting average of .330. He had 273 career victories, including a four-year stretch (1936 to 1939) when he won at least 20 games per season. Those same four years, the Yankees went to the championships. He threw 42 of his 48 career shutouts for New York.

Ruffing was one of the best-hitting pitchers of all time, with a lifetime batting average of .269, 36 home runs, 273 runs batted in, and 58 hits in 228 pinch-hitting appearances. He batted over .300 eight times, with a .364 in 1930 standing as the second-best single-season average for a pitcher. (Walter Johnson got the best.)

He spent three years in the army in WWII, and came back for three seasons upon his return, playing little due to injuries. After retiring at age 43, he managed in the minors, scouted, and in 1962 became the Mets' first pitching coach. He was admitted to the Hall of Fame with 266 out of 306 votes in 1967, his last year of eligibility. Red Ruffing died on February 17, 1986 in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

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(Personal Note: For some reason, my grandfather really liked this guy, and he's the one who started me on this crazy project. So, here's one for Grampa.)

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