Monday, March 12, 2012

Trucks was minor league no-hit master

Uncommon commons. Based on contemporary accounts from The Sporting News; tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they help bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.I consider myself more than a casual baseball historian, especially of the era of my greatest baseball card interest, the 1950s.

Last time I relayed the story of Johnny Vander Meer's third no-hitter.

This time I'll tell you about another major league pitcher who had two no-hitters in one season . . . and four in the minor leagues.

In 1952, Detroit Tigers pitcher Virgil Trucks no-hit the Washington Senators on May 15, for a 1-0 win. On Aug. 25, he notched another no-hitter, a 1-0 victory over the N.Y. Yankees, to become only the third major league pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season (Vander Meer in 1938, Allie Reynolds in 1951; they have since been joined b y Nolan Ryan in 1973 and Roy Halliday in 2010).

It is less well-known that Trucks almost became the only pitcher to have three no-hit games in a season. In between his gems, on July 22 he was again pitching against the Senators. Mickey Vernon led off the game with a single . . . the only hit he allowed in a 1-0 shutout he walked three).

In 1938, his first year of professional ball, while pitching for the Andalusia Bulldogs under questionable contract status in the Class D Alabama-Florida League Trucks also had two no-hitters. He was 25-6 that season, with a 1.25 ERA. He set a modern professional record with 418 strikeouts; that record stood for eight years.

With Beaumont in the Texas League in 1940, Trucks threw his third no-hitter.

Trucks' fourth minor league no-hitter came in 1941, with Buffalo of the International League. But he lost that game. Trucks had his gem going into the 10th inning when Montreal scored to win 1-0. Under the rules of that time, it still counted as a no-hit game. 

In 1991, MLB's Committee for Statistical Accuracy ruled that a "An official no-hit game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings." Technically, this would negate Trucks' fourth no-hit game.

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