COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – When it comes to drama, few Hall of Fame elections match the 1967 Baseball Writers' Association of America election.
And when it was over, Red Ruffing -- the pitcher who had led the Yankees to so many dramatic wins in the 1930 and 1940s -- had earned his place in Cooperstown.
The 1967 ballot was a very unique one due to both Ruffing and Joe Medwick receiving 72.6 percent of the vote – falling just percentage points short of the mandatory 75 percent needed for election.
Both initially failed to meet the voting requirements to gain induction. But a rule that has since been changed by the BBWAA stated that if a nominee did not reach 75 percent of the vote, then a second ballot would be held – known as a run-off election. Only one candidate would be elected from the run-off ballot – the one who received the most votes.
The run-off election included all the candidates that were on the original ballot, but this race ultimately seemed to come down to Ruffing and Medwick. This was Ruffing’s second time being in a run-off election, previously finishing second to Luke Appling in 1964.
In the end, Ruffing collected 266 votes to Medwick’s 248, earning him a bronze plaque in his 15th year on the ballot.
Ruffing became a piece of another part of history as well, becoming the only player ever to receive between 70 and 74.9 percent of the vote twice on the BBWAA ballot –70.1 percent in 1964 and 72.6 percent in 1967.
An outfielder as a kid growing up, Charles Herbert Ruffing was in a mining accident where he lost four toes on his left foot – making his baseball future look bleak. He was forced to make the transition to the pitcher’s mound in order to continue his baseball career.
Similar to his early life struggles, Ruffing’s baseball career can be defined by a significant moment. He began his career in 1924 with the Boston Red Sox, where struggled to a 39-96 record on the mound in seven seasons.
However, in 1930 he was traded to the New York Yankees and manager of the club at the time, Bob Shawkey couldn’t have been more pleased with the deal.
“In Charley Ruffing, we have acquired a pitcher whom we had been after for three years,” exclaimed Shawkey, “and whom I rate as one of the best hurlers in our league.”
Ruffing’s future Hall of Fame career took off after his arrival in New York as he went 15-5 in his first season on his way to 231 victories as a Yankee. Appearing in seven World Series, he went 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA, leading the Yankees to six world championships.
He was a six-time all star, winning 15 or more games on 10 different occasions. He retired in 1947 after one season with the Chicago White Sox finishing his career with 273 wins and 3.80 ERA.
Ruffing passed away on Feb. 17, 1986.
Matt Kramer was the 2010 public relations fall intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum