Charles “Red” Ruffing’s first seven big league seasons for were far from Cooperstown-worthy. He broke in with the Red Sox in 1924 and went 39-96 before Boston traded him away in 1930. His final two full campaigns with the Sox were downright awful – Ruffing went 19-47, and led the league in losses and earned runs surrendered each year.
Then a May 6, 1930 trade to the New York Yankees changed everything.
The remainder of the season Ruffing went 15-5 with 12 complete games, two shutouts, and one save. In 1931 he increased his win total to 16 and tossed 19 complete games. Then in ’32 Ruffing led AL in strikeouts and New York starters in ERA as the Yankees won the pennant.
In his first World Series appearance, Ruffing threw a complete-game in Game 1 of the Yanks’ sweep over the Cubs.
Ruffing reached the 20-win mark each season from 1936-1939 as the Yankees won four straight World Series titles. The right-hander was so highly regarded that manager Joe McCarthy tabbed him as the Game One starter in a record six World Series. Ruffing held the mark stood until fellow Yankee Whitey Ford started his seventh Game One in 1963.
During his 15 seasons in the Bronx Ruffing made six All Star teams and pitched in 7 different Fall Classics. His ten World Series games included 7 wins, 2 losses, 8 complete games, and a 2.52 ERA.
Ruffing was also good with a bat in his hands, hitting .300 or better in 8 seasons. His overall offensive numbers include a .269 average, 36 homers and 273 runs batted in. He made 6 appearances in six games as an outfielder and another 260 as a pinch-hitter.
The 273-game winner appeared on the writers’ Hall of Fame ballot 15 times. In his final year of eligibility he received 86.93% and was inducted into Cooperstown in 1967.
In the collection is this government postcard signed by Ruffing in 1953.