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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Virgil Trucks, 95, threw two no-hitters in the major leagues

RIP…Virgil Trucks.

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.

Repoz Posted: March 24, 2013 at 05:08 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obit

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 24, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4395409)
In 1952, the year he pitched two no-no's, he finished 5-19. (of course, his ERA+ was 95, so he SHOULDN'T have been 5-19)
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 24, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4395417)
Trucks was a solid pitcher with a career ERA+ of 117, and as soon as he was able to escape the 50-104 Tigers he promptly won 20 games the very next year.
   3. Squash Posted: March 24, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4395422)
I've always had a fondness for Trucks as one of my prized old cards when I was a kid was a Virgil Trucks 1948 Leaf.
   4. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 24, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4395455)
When I was working at the (now-closed) collectibles shop here in Montgomery, a nephew of Trucks' came in & asked if we had any of his cards.

RIP.
   5. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: March 24, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4395456)
   6. OCF Posted: March 24, 2013 at 07:58 PM (#4395474)
He's gotten discussion in the Hall of Merit. For instance, I have his RA+ equivalent record as 173-125. Most candidates in that neighborhood don't get elected, but it's a candidacy at least worth considering. He's part of the "country song" grouping of candidates: Trucks, Trout, Bridges.
   7. Vrhovnik Posted: March 24, 2013 at 08:29 PM (#4395487)
My uncle told me that one day, when Virgil was pitching for the A's, he was pulled and was mad as hell about it. He walked off the mound, through the clubhouse, out of the stadium, and hailed a cab. The cab dropped him off at the 403 Club in Kansas City, Kansas, which was an after hours haunt of many major leaguers. So my uncle, who also haunted the place, was sort of taken aback to see Virgil Trucks storm into the bar, still in uniform. I mentioned this incident to Virgil when I got his autograph at a show in Raleigh about 15 years ago. He laughed and said, yeah, I probably did that. RIP, Virgil Trucks.
   8. AndrewJ Posted: March 24, 2013 at 09:01 PM (#4395532)
This was the first baseball book I ever owned, and discussed Virgil's 1952 season: In addition to his two no-hitters, his other wins were a one-hitter, a six-hit complete game and a two-hitter over 7.2 innings.
   9. Morty Causa Posted: March 24, 2013 at 09:09 PM (#4395537)
#7:

Yeah, but, did he keep the ball and trade it for a beer?
   10. depletion Posted: March 24, 2013 at 10:26 PM (#4395565)
Latin poets and Ford products for $400, Alex.
Rest in peace, World Champion.
   11. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: March 24, 2013 at 10:28 PM (#4395567)
Ed Mierkowicz: now the only living person to play against the Cubs in a World Series.
   12. Vrhovnik Posted: March 24, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4395574)
#9:
Nope. Virgil said he didn't drink any more.
   13. Morty Causa Posted: March 24, 2013 at 10:57 PM (#4395577)
Good for him.

But I was referring to an old-time pitcher (Bugs Raymond?) noted for his excessive intake, who when the manager one time came to the mound to remove him stormed off the mound and out the park in a rage and a huff--with the ball, which he traded for a drink at the nearest bar.
   14. NKon Posted: March 25, 2013 at 03:58 AM (#4395633)
And his nephew is the greatest slide guitar player alive.

Gotta love the Trucks family.
   15. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 25, 2013 at 07:39 AM (#4395644)
Seriously? I had no idea they were related.... I saw Derek Trucks a few years ago. Excellent musician, but mike stand has more stage presence. He's one of those artists where you're just as well off listening to the album.
   16. Vrhovnik Posted: March 25, 2013 at 07:57 AM (#4395647)
Morty: Ah, I thought you meant the ball I had him sign.
   17. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 25, 2013 at 08:35 AM (#4395657)
Virgil Trucks, 1952:

In victories: 5-0, 43.2 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 0.20 ERA, 4.53 WHIP9
All other games: 0-19, 153.1 IP, 99 R, 87 ER, 5.05 ERA, 14.67 WHIP9

When he good, he was very very good...
   18. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 25, 2013 at 08:41 AM (#4395659)
Oh, and there's this: Trucks broke in with the 1938 Andalusia Bulldogs of the Alabama-Florida League, which had Yam Yaryan as a player/manager. Ol' Yam was born the same year that Populist James B. Weaver won four states and 22 electoral votes.
   19. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 25, 2013 at 09:39 AM (#4395691)
Oh, and there's this: Trucks broke in with the 1938 Andalusia Bulldogs of the Alabama-Florida League,


Where my best friend here is from; I've been there several times. Makes me wonder where the ballfield is/was.

Bulldogs is also the name of the high school's sports teams, as it happens.
   20. DL from MN Posted: March 25, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4395743)
Missed ages 27 and 28 seasons because of WWII. Probably should have been up earlier because he was just destroying the lower minor leagues. What GM lets a guy throw 273 innings in D ball with an ERA of 1.25 without getting a promotion?
   21. The District Attorney Posted: March 25, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4395744)
Dallas Green?
   22. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 25, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4395832)
What GM lets a guy throw 273 innings in D ball with an ERA of 1.25 without getting a promotion?

According to BBRef, Andalusia was unaffiliated in 1938.

But I like the [21] answer, which would mean that the 4 year old Dallas Green was already shredding arms.
   23. DL from MN Posted: March 25, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4395846)
BR Bullpen says he was signed by the Tigers, then went to Andalusia. Then, after one of the best minor league seasons ever they sent him to Alexandria in the D-level Evangeline League before finally giving him a challenge in the Texas League at the end of 1939. Contrast to teammate Hal Newhouser who made it to the big leagues by age 18 at the end of 1939. Newhouser also got the statistical benefit of playing the 1944 and 1945 war-depleted seasons with the Tigers.

Those 1940s Tigers had some really good pitchers.
   24. The District Attorney Posted: March 25, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4395896)
According to BBRef, Andalusia was unaffiliated in 1938.

But I like the [21] answer, which would mean that the 4 year old Dallas Green was already shredding arms.
My mistake. The guy shredding body parts in Andalusia was Luis Buñuel.
   25. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 25, 2013 at 02:13 PM (#4395912)
A wink (with the good eye) to the DA.
   26. DL from MN Posted: March 25, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4395919)
Now all we need is video of Derek Trucks covering the Pixies
   27. just plain joe Posted: March 25, 2013 at 02:28 PM (#4395927)
Gotta love the Trucks family.


Derek Trucks' uncle, Butch Trucks, has been the drummer (or one of the drummers) in the Allman Brothers Band pretty much since the beginning. That would make Butch Trucks the nephew of Virgil.
   28. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 25, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4395990)
Several years ago I establishged an Internet friendship with the son of Ned Harris, who played with the Tigers in the 1940s and roomed with Virgil Trucks for a while. He sent me copies of several signed photos his father had kept, including this one of Trucks.
   29. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 25, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4396105)
(Andalusia is) where my best friend here is from; I've been there several times. Makes me wonder where the ballfield is/was.

Here it is.
   30. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 25, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4396112)
Thanks, RMc. My friend tells me that's (now) the high school stadium.

Cool!
   31. Morty Causa Posted: March 25, 2013 at 06:01 PM (#4396240)
Williams in My Turn At Bat mentions Trucks a number of times, always in glowing terms.

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