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KID K
Pat Jordan
June 01, 1987
In 1952, Ron Necciai, 19, struck out 27 batters in nine innings
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June 01, 1987

Kid K

In 1952, Ron Necciai, 19, struck out 27 batters in nine innings

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Necciai's stomach was beginning to burn badly now. At some point while he was pitching the final three innings—no one can remember exactly when—he signaled for time. To the mound came Detore, who, in turn, called Choo-Choo. The batboy ran out of the dugout with a glass of milk and a black Banthine pill. Necciai
gulped down the pill with the milk and got back to his business.

Necciai struck out the first batter in the seventh. The Bristol fans sang out a chorus of "Eighteen!" He struck out the next batter and walked the third. He struck out the fourth man and the fans cheered wildly, "Twenty!"

When Dunlop, the Bristol catcher, reached the dugout, he asked about the chanting. "What the hell are they doing?" he said. A teammate said, "Ronnie's striking everyone out!"

Ron Necciai was 23 years old when he left baseball in 1955. He took a job in his father-in-law's hardware store in Monongahela, and he and his wife, Martha, had a daughter and two sons. "It was difficult to get myself squared away at first," he says. "I was a wreck. What was I going to do without baseball? I didn't go to a ballpark for over five years. The funny thing is my ulcer stopped acting up about then. It just went away. Maybe I forgot about it. Who knows. I got involved in other things."

The Bristol pitcher took the mound in the top of the eighth with a 7-0 lead. By now, some Welch batters were trying to bunt, if only to avoid striking out. It didn't matter. Not one Miner hit a fair ball in the inning. The fans chanted: "Twenty-one.... Twenty-two.... Twenty-three!"

The cheering picked up again when Necciai returned for the ninth. The first batter, a pinch hitter, lofted a fly ball in foul territory near home plate. As Dunlop circled it, some fans screamed, "Drop it! Drop it!" Dunlop let the ball fall to the ground. He returned to his crouch to catch the third Necciai strike. "Twenty-four!" The next batter struck out swinging. "Twenty-five!" Necciai threw a third strike to the third batter of the inning, but the ball eluded Dunlop and rolled back to the screen, allowing the batter to reach first base. Naturally, there was suspicion in the ballpark that Dunlop had let the ball go purposely, but Dunlop insisted otherwise. In any case, Necciai had his 26th strikeout and a chance to get his 27th.

The next batter dug in. Necciai took the sign and delivered his two-strike pitch. The batter swung and missed. The fans roared.

"Twenty-seven!"

"That was the first of three no-hitters I caught in 14 days," says Harry Dunlop, now a coach with the San Diego Padres. "But it was the only professional game anyone ever caught in which a pitcher struck out 27 batters in nine innings. I felt like a celebrity after it. I told George Detore, I said, 'George, I called a helluva game, didn't I?' You know what? George just looked at me and said, 'Why'd you call that pitch to so-and-so in the sixth?' "

"George called most of the pitches," says Necciai. "I wasn't allowed to shake him off. I wouldn't dare. I wasn't even conscious of what was going on. I knew it was something different, but I didn't know how different. I mean, it wasn't a perfect game. There was movement. I walked a batter. There was an error. You know, movement. I mean, all I did was strike out 27 batters and not give up a hit or a run. People had been playing this game since eternity, it seemed. I figured somebody must have done this before."

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