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Monday, March 25, 2013
Virgil 'Fire' Trucks dies at 95

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Virgil "Fire" Trucks, who threw two no-hitters for the Detroit Tigers in an otherwise dreadful 1952 season and was the last pitcher to toss a complete-game no-hitter at Yankee Stadium, has died. He was 95.

Charter Funeral Home and Crematory in Calera, Ala., confirmed Trucks' death but did not release a specific cause.

The two-time All-Star died Saturday near Birmingham, Ala. He pitched in the major leagues from 1941-58, helping the Tigers beat the Chicago Cubs in the 1945 World Series.

"Virgil will forever be remembered for his significant contributions in Tigers history," team owner Mike Ilitch said in a statement. "Virgil remained a friend to the club following his career and will be greatly missed by those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him."

Trucks is one of five pitchers to throw two no-hitters in a season, according to STATS. The others were Johnny Vander Meer (1938), Allie Reynolds (1951), Nolan Ryan (1973) and Roy Halladay (2010). One of Halladay's no-hitters came in the postseason.

Trucks threw his in a year the Tigers lost 104 games -- it was the first time Detroit reached triple figures in losses, and stood as a team record until 1996. The right-hander went 5-19 with a 3.97 ERA that season, but he held Washington without a hit on May 15 and did the same to the Yankees in New York on Aug. 25.

The only other time the Yankees have been hitless at their own ballpark since then came in 2003, when six Houston Astros blanked New York in a combined no-hitter at the old Yankee Stadium.

Trucks pitched 12 seasons for the Tigers and also had stints with the St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Athletics before finishing with the Yankees in 1958. At the time of his death, he was believed to be the oldest living player who appeared for either the Tigers or Yankees.

According to STATS, the oldest living Yankee is now believed to be Rugger Ardizoia, who was born in Italy on Nov. 20, 1919. Ardizoia's entire big league career consisted of one relief appearance for the Yankees in 1947 -- he allowed two runs on four hits in two innings.

The oldest living Tiger is now believed to be Eddie Robinson, who was born in 1920 and played 13 games for Detroit in 1957, near the end of his career.

Trucks was born in Alabama and is in the sports Hall of Fame in both Alabama and Michigan. The Tigers have only thrown seven no-hitters, and Trucks was the only pitcher to throw more than one with Detroit until Justin Verlander tossed no-hitters in 2007 and 2011.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski talked about Trucks after his team's spring training game Monday against the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.

"I got to know him years ago when I was working in Florida with the Marlins. We happened to sit at the same table for a SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) luncheon. What a fine gentleman. I really, really enjoyed his company," Dombrowski said. "Within the last month, he called and left a message with my secretary. He wanted to say hi. ... She didn't really know him as well ... and he said, 'Gee, I really like those spring training hats, I was wondering if I could get a couple of them.' I called my secretary and said, 'Call Virgil Trucks, and he can have whatever he wants -- home hat, road hat, you send him whatever he needs.' "

Trucks was 1-0 in the 1945 World Series, when the Tigers beat the Cubs in seven games. That was the last year the Cubs reached the Series.

Trucks' best season may have been 1949, when he went 19-11 with a 2.81 ERA, edged Warren Spahn for the major league lead in strikeouts with 153 and tied for the lead with six shutouts.

Trucks went 20-10 in 1953, splitting time between the Browns and White Sox. He was 19-12 for Chicago in 1954 with a 2.79 ERA.