As if Tuesday’s story could get any crazier (Judge’s blast waking up the Bombers, the Yankees never making an out again in the homer’s wake, Giancarlo Stanton hitting a fastball), it turns out Crowe had shared space in the universe with Babe Ruth long before he’d ever dreamed of surrendering Judge’s Ruthian 60th home run.
Crowe’s great-great uncle just so happens to be Red Ruffing, who was a teammate of Ruth’s from 1930 to 1934 with the Yankees. Ruffing, a Hall of Fame hurler who’s embedded in Monument Park, pitched in the Bronx from ’30-’46, missing two seasons to serve in World War II. He won one title by Ruth’s side (1932, meaning he witnessed the Called Shot in person), and was a part of five additional championships (and may have been given a ring for the 1943 title, too, won while he was in service of our country).
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Crowe took advantage of a rare trip to the Bronx (seriously, what were the odds of MLB sending Pittsburgh to New York in September, midway through an unbalanced schedule) to show his immediate family their center field heirloom.
Crowe took his wife and son to Monument Park pregame to visit with Ruffing’s plaque. Ruffing is also the reliever’s son’s middle name. And then, to have the game unfold in the way it did … pure poetry.
Pirates’ Wil Crowe has a deep connection to Yankees Hall of Famer Red Ruffing
Poetry for both sides, and hopefully not too much of a scarring memory for one particular Pirate, who just deepened the Yankees portion of his family’s legacy significantly.
Like Ruth, Ruffing was a Red Sox originally, and switched sides midway through the 1930 season, sold to the Yankees in exchange for reserve outfielder Cedric Durst, someone who most definitely does not have a plaque in any major league stadium.
Ruffing, in Boston, had an abysmal winning percentage of .289, the result of a 39-93 record for a subpar Sox team. In New York? He went 231-124, for a .651 winning percentage. Truly, you can’t make this stuff up.
The right-hander’s Monument Park plaque was dedicated posthumously back in 2004, meaning history is relying on Crowe re-telling his great uncle’s story, now that such a wrong has been righted (Ruffing passed away prior to Crowe’s birth in 1986).
Hopefully, the Yankees mean just as much to him today as they did before this series began, and the reliever’s spotlight moment didn’t leave too sour a taste in his mouth.