Ron Necciai, climbed the pitching mound in a cold afternoon on May 13, 1952, not knowing that he would achieve, 27 outs later, one of the greatest performance in the history of baseball.
27 K’s in a night:
Necciai, was at that time playing in the Appalachian League Class-D with the Bristol Twins and that day he had to face the Welch Miners in Bristol, VA. Before starting the game, Ron, felt sick. Even during the game, Necciai was still not feeling well, so the manager asked for some cottage cheese to calm his stomach. In fact, Necciai, had been sent to Bristol for rehabilitation due to an ulcer problem he had experienced in spring training that season.
Despite the upset stomach, by the fourth inning, Welch hitters began to try to at least make contact with the ball, trying bunts, but it did not work either, as they only foul them and strikeout.
One batter was retired on a groundout early in the game but when the catcher was charged with a passed ball on a third strike in the ninth inning Necciai struck out a fourth batter in the inning to complete his masterpiece.
Never been done before:
He had thrown a no-hitter but the game was far from perfect since he hit a batter, one reached on an error, he walked one batter and and the other though a strikeout victim reached first on a passed ball. But none of that mattered much, because Ron Necciai had struck out 27 opposing batters. Something that had never been done before in professional baseball and has never been done again.
It was not a lucky day:
Necciai had not achieved this by luck. Before that night, he had already strikeout 20 and 19 hitters in previous games that year. In fact, after the 27 strikeouts without a hit, he would strikeout 24 more in his next start, allowing only 2 hits. His 51 strikeouts in two games is another milestone that is unlikely to be repeated.
But who was Ron Necciai? And what happened to him?
Ron Andrew Necciai, was born on June 18, 1932, in Gallatin, Pennsylvania. Necciai, was a 6-3 prospect, for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. As you can imagine, in the morning following his 27 strikeouts, Ron Necciai was a celebrity, and soon he would be the subject of a featured article in the magazine: The Sporting News, as well as appearing in the headlines of sports pages across the country, gaining all the national attention.
Necciai left Bristol and finally joined the Pirates in the Major Leagues at the end of the 1952 season.
Necciai, pitched his first game in August of that year. He finished the season with a 1-6 record and a 7.08 ERA. He struck out 31 in 54 innings, but walked 32.
However, the story of Ron Necciai, ended as fast as it started. In 1953 he served into the United States Army, but was discharged with a recurrent ulcer.
Trying to get back in shape to play baseball again, Necciai, felt a sharp pain in his shoulder as he was practicing one day. It turned out to be his rotator cuff, which had been torn. Current medical knowledge could have repaired the injury, but not in the 1950s. Necciai’s career as a pitcher was sadly over.
Currently, Ron is 86 years old and a successful businessman. Despite not being able to show all his talent and potential in Major League Baseball and only having won a single game, Necciai, for one night in May 1952 was the best pitcher in the world.
Used sources: www.baseball-reference.com and www.milb.com
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