Virgil Trucks, who spent 17 seasons as a pitcher in the major leagues and served in World War II, passed away Saturday March 23 at his home in Calera, Ala., according to his daughter Carolyn Beckwith. He was 95.
Trucks was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1938 and immediately posted a record setting season, striking out 418 batters for their Class D team in Andalusia, Ala. He earned the nickname “Fire” from an Alabama sportswriter for his blazing fastball that he used to tear through hitters at the lower levels of minor league baseball. He rapidly ascended the ranks of the Tigers minor league system and was in a major league uniform at the end of the 1941 season.
He spent the next two seasons with the Tigers before enlisting in the United States Navy in 1944. While in the service, he played for the baseball team at the Great Lakes Naval Station, which allowed him to stay in shape for his return to the Tigers just in time for the 1945 World Series. His complete game victory in Game 2 of the World Series helped lead the Tigers to winning the championship in seven games.
...He finished with a career record of 177-135 that included two All-Star appearances in 1949 and 1954. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1974. In 2004, he published his life story, “Throwing Heat: The Life and Times of Virgil Trucks,” with co-authors Bill Bozeman and Ronnie Joyner.
The Alabama native remained a popular figure with fans throughout his retirement, spending countless hours responding to every fan mail request, often replying with hand written letters to those who sought correspondence. “[I receive] 20 or 30 [a week], sometimes more. That’s just letters. It doesn’t count baseballs and pictures they send. I don’t like to keep the stuff around. If I wake up and can’t go back to sleep, I’ll go answer my mail in the middle of the night,” said Trucks to the Birmingham News in 2009.
Posted: March 24, 2013 at 04:08 PM | 31 comment(s)
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