Trucks dead at 95Published 12:02am Thursday, March 28, 2013
Virgil “Fire” Trucks, the former ace pitcher for the Detroit Tigers’ Class D team in Andalusia, died Saturday night near his home in Calera, according to The Detroit Times.
Trucks’ career in the big leagues spanned from 1941-1958. The former Andalusia baseball great played for six major league teams during his time on the diamond. He was 95.
He got the nickname “Fire” from an Alabama sportswriter in 1938, when Trucks struck out some 419 batters for the Andalusia Class D team, The Detroit Times reported.
Casey Jones, who served as Andalusia’s 9-10 South Alabama All-Stars coach in 2010, said he got to know Trucks well through many phone conversations.
Jones connected with Trucks because he wanted to pay tribute to the 1938-1962 Andalusia Arrows baseball team era in 2010.
“I ended up going with the one guy that did the best,” Jones said about Trucks. “Trucks ended up playing one season in Andalusia in 1938.”
Jones said Trucks played for Andalusia at the old baseball field behind the Catholic Church near Through Street.
During the several phone conversations he had with Trucks, Jones — a big baseball fan — said it was “unreal” to hear stories Trucks would tell about baseball greats Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams.
Jones said one story he remembers Trucks telling was one about Berra.
“I asked him who was the toughest batter you ever faced?” Jones said. “‘Yogi Berra,’ he said. ‘Hell, Yogi Berra would swing at any thing. Ted Williams, you knew what he was going to do.’
“Stories like that, and all of these phone calls were unreal,” he said.
Two weeks after finishing his time in the Navy, Trucks pitched in Game 2 of the 1945 World Series for the Tigers. Detroit went on to win the championship that year for the Tigers’ second in franchise history.
While with the Tigers, Trucks threw two no hitters in 1952. Justin Verlander, who currently pitches for Detroit, is the only other Tiger to throw two no-hitters, but not in the same year, according to the same Detroit Times article.
For his career, Trucks struck out 1,534 batters and allowed 1,088 walks in 517 major league starts. He played for the St. Louis Browns (now Cardinals), the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City and the New York Yankees during his 17-year career. He was a two-time All-Star in 1949 and 1954. He was the oldest living pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium, Jones said.
Trucks went on to coach in 1960 for the Pittsburgh Pirates after his playing career. The Pirates went on to beat the Yankees to win the World Series that season.
Jones said Trucks told him that he never wanted to leave Andalusia.
“Some of his best times paying baseball were in Andalusia, Alabama,” Jones said. “We really got along well. Sometimes you can talk to somebody and hit it off. He was just a great fellow.”
Visitation is today, starting at 11 a.m., at the Charter Funeral Home in Calera. Burial will follow with full military honors at Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo.