(National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
New York Yankees pitcher Allie Reynolds admitted he couldn’t help knowing he was on the verge of pitching his second no-hitter of the 1951 season, adding, “It was always up there on the scoreboard. However, I wasn’t too concerned. After nine years, you’re more concerned with winning and staying in the league.”With the end of the regular season only days away, Reynolds took the mound at Yankee Stadium in the first game of a doubleheader against the rival Boston Red Sox on September 28. When the day’s action was over, not only had the rugged righty made history, but his team – the two-time defending World Series champs – would clinch their third consecutive American League pennant and 18th in franchise history.With an announced crowd of 39,038 on hand for the Friday afternoon twinbill, the veteran Reynolds, using a hard fastball and sharp slider, would hold the BoSox hitless on his 119 pitches, winning 8-0, while striking out nine and walking four. The New York offense combined for 10 hits, which included home runs by Gene Woodling and Joe Collins. Reynolds’ last appearance before the World Series would raise his won-loss record to 17-8, while the shutout was his league-leading seventh of the season.New York’s legendary center fielder, Joe DiMaggio, realized a no-hitter was a possibility in the sixth inning.“I knew he was shooting for it and Reynolds knew it too,” DiMaggio said. “I could tell from the way he was pitching that he was doing the same things he did in the no-hitter against Cleveland. His fastball was zipping and his slider was good. Every pitch he threw had something on it – and his control, terrific.”Having previously tossed a hitless game against the Cleveland Indians on July 12, the 34-year-old Reynolds, a Creek Indian from Oklahoma, became the first AL pitcher with two no-hitters in one season. The only other big leaguer to toss two no-hitters in one season up to that point was Johnny Vander Meer of the National League’s Cincinnati Reds, who held the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers hitless in succession in 1938.“The game was easier and, yet, not easier than the July 12 affair,” Reynolds said. “In Cleveland, I not only had to pitch the no-hitter, once I got into the seventh and saw the feat within reach, but I had to win the game. Gene Woodling did that for me with a homer and I beat [Bob] Feller, 1-0.“In the Stadium, the boys gave me plenty of support with their bats.”According to reports, the day after Reynolds’ second no-hitter, and after the end of another doubleheader with the Red Sox, a crew of workmen came out to the pitching mound dug up the pitching rubber – two feet long and 45 pounds – and carted it off to the New York clubhouse, where they gave it a good scrubbing and polishing. After being signed by all the Yankee and Red Sox players, the mound slab was presented to Reynolds prior to the regular season finale on Sept. 30.This image, taken by acclaimed photographer Osvaldo Salas, who documented the game’s biggest stars of the 1950s with his camera, shows Yankees manager Casey Stengel (left) and Reynolds holding the commemorative pitching rubber in front of New York’s dugout. Today, the autographed artifact can be seen on the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s third floor in the exhibit Sacred Ground, which examines ballparks of the past and present.An exhibition on the photographer’s work, entitled Osvaldo Salas’ American Baseball Photographs, opened on the Museum’s third floor in May of this year and will be on display through May 2015. Thanks to a generous donation by Hall of Fame supporter Rick Swig, almost 900 of Salas’ negatives are now a part of the permanent photographic collection at the Museum.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum features a collection of nearly 250,000 photographs like this one. Reproductions are available for purchase. To purchase a reprint of this photograph or others from the Photo Archive collections, please call (607) 547-0375. Hall of Fame members receive a 10-percent discount.
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"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time,” is the last line from author and former New York Yankees pitching great Jim Bouton’s 1970 classic Ball Four.
Another former hurler who starred in the Bronx used the grip pictured here to post more than two decades of mound success.
Charles Herbert Ruffing was a legendary pitcher with the Yankees throughout the 1930s and early ‘40s. Sporting the home pinstripes, “Red” is demonstrating, circa 1938, his four-seam fastball grip, a pitch that would eventually place him among the game’s greatest in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.
According to Ruffing, he found his fastball to be far and away his most effective pitch. It was said of the fireballer that he threw a two-speed ball: Fast and a little faster.
“The best day I ever had with a fastball was two years ago against Washington,” Ruffing said in a 1934 interview. “I beat the Senators 1-0 in 10 innings, hitting a home run in the 10th to win the game. I struck out 10 during the game and only one on a called third strike. The other nine took their cut at the fast one and missed.
“During that game, I doubt that I threw over three curveballs. My control was good that day, as it has to be for a fastball pitcher to be effective. The ball never hopped until just before it reached the plate.”
Ruffing had a 22-season big league career, including 15 with the Yankees, finishing with an overall record of 273-225. He did not emerge as a star until he was acquired in a trade by the Yankees during the 1930 season, eventually establishing the franchise record for wins by a right-hander with 231 while losing only 124.
Of his longtime catcher with the Yankees, Bill Dickey, Ruffing said, “Bill and I never had any signs. I just told him to watch out for the fastball. Even in the (World) Series games I never used signs. Dickey used to flash them, but I never paid attention.”
Ruffing is the only pitcher in franchise history to compile four consecutive 20-win seasons, from 1936 to 1939, when he led the Yankees to four straight World Series titles. Overall, he helped the Yankees win seven pennants and six World Series.
“There was something special about wearing the pinstripes of the New York Yankees,” Ruffing said years after he retired from the game. “Maybe it was the way you walked, ate and dressed.”
Ruffing passed away in 1986 at the age of 80.
This image of Ruffing, captured by photographer William C. Greene, is one of more than 50 that are featured in the Hall of Fame’s newest exhibit, Picturing America’s Pastime.