Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Virgil Trucks, Major League...

...pitcher, died at age 95. (That's him in a St. Louis Browns' uniform.) From Trucks's obit in the Times (my emphasis):

In 1952, Trucks had one of the oddest statistical seasons in baseball history. Not only was the Tigers’ record dreadful — the team was 50-104 — but Trucks’s was as well. The woeful offense scored two runs or fewer in 15 of his starts, and he went 5-19. But remarkably, two of the five wins were no-hitters. The first, on May 15, was against the Washington Senators; the second, on Aug. 25, was against the mighty Yankees at Yankee Stadium. No one since then has pitched a complete-game no-hitter against the Yankees in New York.

Trucks became just the third pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season, following Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds in 1938 (who did it in consecutive starts) and Allie Reynolds of the Yankees in 1951. Only two others have accomplished the feat since then: Nolan Ryan of the California Angels in 1973 and Roy Halladay of the Phillies in 2010, his second coming in a playoff game.

Trucks’s feat, however, perhaps holds the record for anomalies. The score of both his no-hitters was 1-0, and the first was won with a home run by Vic Wertz with two out in the bottom of the ninth. The second no-hitter was secured after the official scorer, John Drebinger of The New York Times, first ruled that a ball hit by the Yankees’ Phil Rizzuto in the third inning was an error by Tigers shortstop Johnny Pesky.

Drebinger’s colleagues in the press box argued with him, and he changed his mind, calling it an infield single. But still uncertain later in the game, Drebinger called Pesky in the Tigers’ dugout, and he acknowledged that he had been unable to grip the ball cleanly. Before the seventh inning, the call was changed back to an error, and the no-hitter was restored.

Between the two games, on July 22, Trucks faced the Senators again, yielded a single to Eddie Yost on the first pitch of the game, then gave up only three walks the rest of the way, finishing with a one-hit victory. Once again, the score was 1-0.

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