Red Ruffing

Position: Pitcher
Teams: Boston Red Sox, 1924-1930; New York Yankees, 1930-1942; 1945-1946; Chicago White Sox, 1947

On May 6, 1930, Red Ruffing had racked up a 39-96 career win-loss record and a .289 winning percentage. Over the next 15 seasons he won 231 games and posted a .651 winning percentage. More tellingly than any other pitcher in history, Ruffing proved what can happen when a good hurler buried on a miserable team is traded to a contender.

In 1934, Ruffing has his finest season and won 19 games.
In 1934, Ruffing has his finest season
and won 19 games.

Charles Herbert Ruffing (1904-1986) was born in Granville, Illinois, the son of a coal miner. Red left school at age 15 to join his father in the mines. Red was an excellent outfielder on the company team until he lost four toes on his left foot in a mining accident shortly after arriving at the mines. His dream of being a big-league outfielder was dashed, but when the company pitcher was injured, Red took the mound and found a new calling.

Signed in 1923 by Danville of the Three-I League, Red was purchased by the Red Sox toward the end of that season. Upon joining Boston for keeps in 1925, Ruffing found himself on the worst club in the majors. The Red Sox in the late 1920s had so little punch that Red was often the best hitter in the lineup on the days he pitched. His fortunes changed dramatically after he was traded in May 1930 to the Yankees. Two years later Ruffing bagged 18 victories as the Yankees copped their first flag under Joe McCarthy.

Before Red was done he pitched on seven pennant winners in New York and had a glittering 7-2 record in World Series play. Four times a 20-game winner, he also served as the Yankees’ chief right-handed pinch hitter for several seasons. Ruffing’s career high point came in 1938, when he led the American League with 21 wins and a .750 winning percentage.

Red spent over two years in the Army during World War II before rejoining the Yankees in June 1945. Although age 41, he won 12 of his first 16 decisions after his return but then broke his ankle early in the 1946 season. Released by the Yankees, he pitched part of the 1947 campaign for the Chicago White Sox before a knee injury forced his retirement.

Red’s main assets were his excellent control, baffling changeup, and ability to work well over 200 innings year after year. Although he posted a career 3.80 ERA, the highest of any pitcher currently in the Hall of Fame, he retired with the most career wins of any pitcher in Yankees history. His mark has since been broken by Whitey Ford, but he remains the club’s top right-handed winner. In 1967, Ruffing was named to the Hall of Fame.

Here are Red Ruffing's major league totals:


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