Turn Back The Clock: February 16th, 1967-Red Ruffing Gets A Special Call To The Hall


For once, this past winter didn’t produce a whole lot of controversy for the Baseball Writers Association of America. The expected players, the elite of their generation, were selected for enshrinement into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Craig Biggio, and John Smoltz will be enshrined in Cooperstown this coming July.

But there have been many years where fans of baseball have scratched their collective heads, and said “What the hell?” A player gets passed over, drops off the ballot, or the writers vote not to elect anyone at all. When those things happen nowadays, it is what it is. The Veterans Committee would generally choose a player who has long been gone, or overlooked long enough that he fell off the ballot after years and years of falling short.

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Back in the day, choosing not to vote someone in might have been an option, but someone was going in come hell or high water. For example, the BBWAA didn’t elect anyone on their January ballot in 1967. This was termed their “first ballot.” When this occurred, they would vote again, or create a second ballot to see if anyone could garner the needed 75 percent of the vote to gain election to the Hall later that summer. The difference between the first and second ballots? On the first ballot, if multiple players receive the required 75 percent of the ballot vote, all players receiving that total would be enshrined. The second ballot? Not quite. Only the player receiving the highest vote total would receive enshrinement. So for example, if four players on the second ballot received 75 percent or more, yet the leading vote-getter received 90 percent, only that player would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I know, screwy to say the least, and typical for an organization that is broken and rotten to the core.

During his 22-year career, Red Ruffing pitched for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago White Sox. Fifteen of those seasons were spent in the Bronx, where he recorded 231 of his career 273 victories, easily the most of any of the teams he pitched for. Ruffing was a four-time 20-game winner during his career, and notched fourteen seasons of at least 14 wins or more. Pretty remarkable. He joined the Yankees in 1930, and would remain through the 1946 season. He had some pretty famous all-time great Yankees as teammates.

Ruffing retired after the 1947 season, having finished a dismal season at 3-5 with the Chicago White Sox, but for some reason, Cooperstown always had eluded the hurler. It was finally, in 1967, when nobody received election on the BBWAA’s first ballot, that Ruffing got his just due. During the voting on the second ballot, which was held today, back in 1967, Ruffing received 266 of the 306 ballot votes to gain election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Those 266 votes were good enough for 86.6 percent, and was the leader on that second ballot. Unfortunately for Joe Medwick, it would cost him enshrinement in 1967, as he did receive the normally acceptable 75 percent, but due to special second ballot rules, he was left out.

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