Virgil Trucks, Former No-Hitter Pitcher, Passes Away

by Phillip Witteveen on April 3, 2013

Virgil Trucks, star pitcher during  Red Rolfe’s seasons as manager of the 1949 Detroit Tigers, died on March 23rd at age 95.

Trucks, whose fastball earned him the nickname “Fire” Trucks, still came into the Tiger’s 1949 season unready according to Rolfe’s former Yankee high expectations. With a “tendency for wildness,” a predictable set of pitches, and overweight, Rolfe knew Trucks had room for improvement. “Yet when Rolfe came in he knew that Virgil Trucks was one of his main guns. Several people recognized his renewed commitment to a strong pitching performance in 1949,” William Anderson wrote in his introduction to The View from the Dugout: The Journals of Red Rolfe, published by the University of Michigan Press in 2006. Rolfe worked with Trucks’ strengths, and helped make his notorious fastball more consistent, with his observation and analysis.

In the three years he and Rolfe worked together, Trucks would become something of a main character of  the manager’s meticulous journals and a standard against which all other Tiger pitchers would be measured.

History was made at Briggs Stadium today as Virgil Trucks pitched a brilliant no hit no run game against the Senators and big Vic Wertz won the game with two out in the ninth as he slammed a home run into the upper deck in right. It was a fitting climax to a great pitcher’s duel. Porterfield matched Trucks almost pitch for pitch.

Trucks was, in fact, well known for pitching two no-hitters in one season, one against the Senators, and another against Rolfe’s former team, the Yankees. In that season in 1952, however, the Trucks and the Tigers came in last place.

You can read more about Trucks’ place in Tigers history in The View from the Dugout: The Journals of Red Rolfe.

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