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Hall of Fame Military Spotlight Series: Red Ruffing

Charles “Red” Ruffing, an exceptional pitcher known for his steadfast nature, is recognized for his hard work and dedication demonstrated on and off the baseball diamond. After a few average seasons with the Boston Red Sox, he was traded to the New York Yankees in 1930, where he quickly excelled.

The dependable right hander helped carry his team to World Series championships in 1932, 1936-1939, and 1941, while compiling a 7-2 record in his World Series starts and earning over 20 wins during the consecutive title stretch. He also was a gifted batsman by leading the 1935 Yankees in wins and batting average, besting future Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Bill Dickey, and Earle Combs.

His professional baseball career took a brief hiatus when he was drafted into the United States Army in January, 1943. Ruffing was drafted despite an injury to his left foot that occurred when he was in a coal car accident while working a job in a mine ventilation system that caused him to lose four toes.

Ruffing was based at Long Beach Army Base in California with the Sixth Ferrying Group of the Air Transport Command. There he managed their baseball team with a stellar lineup that featured Max West, Harry Danning, and Nanny Fernandez. He saw many competitive games while serving, pitching for the Service All-Stars team alongside Joe DiMaggio in 1943 against the Hollywood Stars.

In 1944, rumors of Ruffing’s return home and to the Yankees began to grow. Ruffing was eventually honorably discharged in June 1945 at Fort Dix. Despite turning 41-years old when he returned, he still managed to post a 7-3 record in 11 starts. Even after his full return to the team, Ruffing did not fly with the Yankees to games on the team plane because of a flying phobia he had developed from serving in WWII.

After retiring from his playing career, he worked as a minor league manager for the Chicago White Sox and as a coach and player personnel executive for the Cleveland Indians. In 1962, he was hired as a pitching coach for the New York Mets. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967. Red Ruffing models the values of the Foundation which he used to overcome his adversity and serve with distinction during WWII.



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