Red Ruffing, an Airman’s Ace
There are certain ballplayers that are either forgotten, ignored or are considered to be unworthy entirely when discussions arise surrounding the game’s greats. There should be no doubt that Charles Herbert “Red” Ruffing earned his entry into Cooperstown with his lengthy and consistent career on the mound. Aside from his Major League baseball career, he played countless games at a very high level that didn’t count for his professional career but had considerably impact and implications on a greater scale than to cement his name among the game’s legends.
This two-part series focuses on Ruffing’s 29-months of service in the United States Army Air Forces. He was drafted despite his age and his disfigurement (the result of a childhood accident) and yet, he was not deployable into a combat theater. Instead, he became a workhorse who raised untold financial sums in support of Navy and Army Relief, bat and ball funds and several other charities, leveraging his baseball experience, World Series championships and his name recognition, monumentally assisting in the war effort from the home front.
Charles “Red” Ruffing: Pitching for Victory
World Series celebrations fade, player-movement talk warms up, igniting what is known as the “Hot Stove League.” Speculation spawns suppositions and rumors about trades and salary space for teams looking to bolster rosters that were previously poised to cross the threshold into the post season.
The winter is also the time of the year when baseball fans await the announcement of the Hall of Fame voting for the enshrinement of that year’s new class. As with the heated talks in the Hot Stove League, fans can become incensed regarding the Hall worthiness of election-eligible players. Questions are always asked, discussion arise about the validity of enshrinements of some of the players whose plaques hang in the museum’s gallery. There are several players who are targets of those seeking to somehow level the field of enshrinees with calls for removal. A simple internet search will provide the banter and fodder created by armchair Hall of Fame voters. (Continue reading Charles “Red” Ruffing: Pitching for Victory)
Airman Red Ruffing: A GI Pitcher
With Charles “Red” Ruffing’s 29-month U.S. Army Air Forces career, beginning with his induction on December 29, 1942, the extensive press coverage documenting every week’s activities could fill dozens of pages to chronical his tenure in uniform. Contrary to what can be unearthed for most ballplayers, the level of detail is simply astounding. Pitching in the major leagues for 19 seasons is certainly enough to garner press attention. In a span of a decade, the Yankees claimed the American League pennant seven times allowing Ruffing to accumulate a 7-3 World Series pitching record and capture six World Series titles. As if his record was not enough to garner an inordinate amount of press attention, having the U.S. Army Air Forces assign him to an air base in close proximity to Hollywood thrust Ruffing beneath the news media’s veritable microscope. (Continue reading Airman Red Ruffing: A GI Pitcher)