Saturday, October 15, 2011

RBI (41) He threw 2 no-hitters but is a TTM hit with me...

And I'm sure he's a hit with all TTM collectors. I'm sure the title gave it all away, but I'll douse your curiosity and confirm the all-star TTM signer I'm referring to is Virgil "Fire" Trucks.

While I'm sure many of the usual readers are well aware of the exploits of Mr. Trucks, I'll enlighten those just starting TTM. Virgil made his MLB debut in 1941 for the Detroit Tigers, a club he would play for 12 of his 17 MLB seasons. He was a stalwart member of almost every pitching rotation he joined as a front end starter or reliable reliever. He was a fireball hurler and would make any manager drool to have him a member of his rotation today. Trucks is a great example of what  a true starting pitcher was in the 40's and 50's of Major League Baseball when pitchers were expected to grind out the win anyway possible.

When his 17 season career ended Trucks appeared in 517 games, pitching 2683 innings with a 177-135 record. He threw 124 Complete Games, 33 Shutouts, and 2 no-hitters (both in 1952 to be the 3rd pitcher to toss 2 no hitters in a season), showing what a true workhorse he could be in the rotation. At the end he would rack up 1,534 Strikeouts to pair with an astounding 3.39 career ERA. To go with the 2 no-hitters he would be a 1945 World Series Champion, and be named a 2-time All Star.

Mr. Trucks is known for being one of the kindest signers in the TTM community and it's really amazing how above and beyond he goes for collectors. I really appreciated his responses, and hope the community of baseball fans and mailers do too.

Mr. Trucks signed this photo for me, even taking the time to switch pens for his "Fire" nickname. I wasn't able to find a card for him at a few card shows and through my collector pals, but I really wanted something by Mr. Trucks so I printed this photo out at home. On the side he also kindly inscribed "2 No Hitters - 1952, 5-15-52 - 8-25-52, 2x Allstar 1949 - 1954" I mean how amazing of an inscription is that? Not only did he write two no hitters, but dated both and put the two All-Star selections with each year. I can't say how much I appreciate Mr. Trucks being so generous with his time and inscriptions, especially at a time when more and more of players from are charging to sign let alone give so many notable inscriptions.

Mr. Trucks also included in his reply his own custom Diamond Signatures card inscribed "Best Wishes, Virgil Trucks".  First off, it's a great photo of Virgil on his this custom card made exclusively for his personal use. To have him decide to allow me to add this card to my collection is truly special. Secondly, I love the old time feel of the card from the framing to the color.

Having seen how generous he was with his autograph, I'm sure you readers are expecting him to be just as giving with his letter response. I'm glad to say that he goes above and beyond meeting our expectations in his kind response.

Dear Mr. Trucks,

"Glad to sign and answer your questions, Sincerely Virgil Trucks"

Which of your no-hitters was the most difficult to finish?

This response really isn't surprising considering the men named, "The 2nd one against the Yankees. The last 3 hitters - (Mickey) Mantle, (Joe) Collins, and (Hank) Bauer." Not only did Trucks face Mantle to lead off the 9th inning, but he struck him out for the second time that night as his 8th K. The roster also included Yankee great Yogi Berra batting 4th after Bauer.

Having played for the Kansas City Athletics and St. Louis Browns, how do you feel about franchises that relocate?

As previous responder Bud Daley showed, players seem to have an affection for Kansas City, "I don't think the A's should have left K.C. The Browns made the right move as one club in St. Louis is enough."

Were any of your 177 Wins especially meaningful to you?

With so many wins over a long career Mr. Trucks had plenty to choose from, but he didn't throw a curveball selecting three games any other pitcher would love to have on their resume that are truly memorable, "The 2 no hitters are and the 1945 W.S. win was a special one."

What do you consider to be your career year?

I always find it interesting when baseball cards or commentators pick a player's career year. Sometimes it's obvious but when you have a player of high caliber I think the player really should be able to decide  what they consider their best year. Mr. Trucks actually disagrees with his wiki page's career year, "I would say 1949 - 19 Wins - 41 games Lost 11, 278 innings - 183 K's - 2.61 ERA."

What was your favorite part of being an All-Star?

Trucks really highlights the difference between the All-Star players of previous generations compared to today's 70 man roster, "Just being an Allstar, I won the 1949 - Saved the 1954 game."

Where was your favorite place to pitch as a visitor?

A familiar mid-sized city made the cut, "Chicago White Sox - Comisky Park"

How did you find out you were being called up to the Majors?

"I was called up at the end of the season at Buffalo NY. I knew I would be recalled with 2 weeks of the American League season left."

Do you still actively watch baseball? Did you ever stop?

Mr. Trucks is definitely a true baseball lifer, "I watch baseball all season long on TV. No baseball parks. No I never stopped."

How do you think the game has changed since you were a player?

"Money wise. Plus a bunch of arrogant baseball players of today."

Mr. Trucks is someone I would really recommend the TTM community write to. Not only is he a kind and fast responder, he signed and responded to my letter sent to his home address after 8 Days, but he's a player who has a treasure trove of memories about a golden era of baseball and respect for the game we collectors should preserve for the ages.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Mr. Truck is awesome. In fact, I just did a write-up about him on my blog.