Red Ruffing (May 3, 1905 - February 17, 1986) was a Major League Baseball pitcher most remembered for his time with the highly successful New York Yankees teams of the 1930s and 1940s.
Born in Granville, Illinois, Ruffing suffered the loss of four toes on his left foot in a freak mine accident (in Coalton, Illinois) as a youth. Subsequently transformed from an outfielder to a pitcher, Ruffing made his major league debut in 1924 with the Boston Red Sox, pitching without a decision over 23 innings of work. He saw regular playing time with the Sox over the next few years but had limited success. His best year, in terms of earned run performance, came in 1928, when he posted a respectable 3.89 ERA; however, he also received abysmal offensive support and consequently suffered 25 losses to only 10 wins.
Ruffing's career was renewed by a mid-season trade in 1930 which sent him to the New York Yankees. Buoyed by the offensive production of greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, he won 15 games after the trade despite a hefty 4.14 ERA. Ruffing eventually turned into an ace, winning 20 games or more four times in a row from 1936 to 1939, and striking out a league high 190 batters in 1932. He regularly contended for the ERA crown, twice posting ERAs under 3.00, and appeared in seven World Series, won six (1932, 1936-1939 and 1941), and posted a 7-2 career post-season record with a 2.63 ERA.
After missing the 1943 and 1944 seasons due to the war, Ruffing was unable to regain his ace material upon returning in 1945. After moving to the Chicago White Sox in 1947, he retired. He finished his career with 273 wins, 225 losses, 1987 strikeouts and a 3.80 ERA. Ruffing was also an accomplished hitter, hitting 36 home runs and batting .269 in 1937 career at-bats.
Ruffing was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967. On July 10, 2004, the Yankees dedicated a plaque in his memory to hang in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.