Pirates Pitcher Ron Necciai Won’t Brag

Posted August 11th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Branch Rickey, Ron Necciai

READ MY BOOK, PLEASE!

I received those sentiments from Negro League great Buck O’Neill and basketball star Bob Cousy in response to questions.

Ron Necciai, the man who pitched his way to baseball history in 1952, isn’t bragging about it. I was stunned when his letter didn’t mention the book he stars in: Rocket Ron

That was my biggest question. On May 13, 1952, he struck out 27 batters in an Appalachian League game. The problem? In the days before ESPN or the Internet, how could the world know quickly of such a feat? How fast could word spread? I’ve seen some tiny minor league attendances, too. Imagine setting a record for only a few hundred people! Necciai’s only comment:

“Sporting News and most papers did cover story.”

The majors called. However, control problems limited Necciai to just one win. The last-place Pirates didn’t help. I found a loss and a no-decision for Necciai against Cincinnati in September (thanks, http://www.retrosheet.org/), in what might have been his finest outing of his one-season stint in the bigs.

“No particular game stands out. Good and bad all the same.”

How sad…

Lastly, I asked about his health. He coped with stomach ulcers. A rotator cuff injury ended his career. Has he wondered if his fortune would have been different with today’s treatments?

“Medical care given me by Pirates and Branch Rickey Sr. was finest available.”

Necciai closed on an optimistic note:

“Baseball is a great way to make a living. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

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