Revisiting Ron Necciai and the 27-Strikeout No-Hitter: 67 Years Later

On May 13, 1952 Ron Necciai wrote himself into the record books by recording each of the 27 outs in a nine-inning game via the strikeout. At the time, Necciai was a 19-year-old hurler with the Bristol (Virginia) Twins, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class-D Appalachian League affiliate. Before this unforgettable appearance, “Rocket Ron” had already amassed 71 strikeouts in just four games for the 1952 Twins, including 20 in an Opening Night shutout at Shaw Stadium in Bristol.

His 27-strikeout night punctuated Necciai’s dominating no-hitter—only two of the Welch (West Virginia) Miners even put a ball in play that night. Strikeout victim number 26, Billy Hammond, was safe on a dropped third strike with two outs in the ninth, extending the game. Necciai promptly fanned the next batter, Bob Kendrick, for historic number 27.

Necciai’s stint with the 1952 Twins was impressive. He went 4-0, with a 0.42 ERA, and a staggering 109 strikeouts in just 43 innings. He was promoted to the Class-B Burlington-Graham (North Carolina) Pirates and eventually on to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he would make his Major League debut on August 10 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, his big league experience did not go as planned. Still just 20, Necciai went 1-6 for the Pirates, making nine starts and striking out 31 in 54.2 innings pitched.

Necciai was drafted into the army in January 1953 and given an honorable medical discharge in March, due to debilitating stomach ulcers. He appeared in a handful of games for Burlington-Graham in 1953 but injuries cut his season short. Ron did not pitch professionally in 1954, having voluntarily retired due to his stomach ailments.

In 1955 Ron gave it one last shot, when he was granted reinstatement from his voluntary retirement with the Hollywood Stars of the PCL. After pitching 10.1 innings with Hollywood (and striking out just one), Necciai was cut and returned to the Waco, Texas Class-B team. Ron made his final professional start on May 18 and left the game against the Harlingen Capitals after just 2.1 innings due to recurrent shoulder pain. Those career-ending shoulder issues were thought to have been due to a rotator cuff tear that was finally diagnosed and repaired when he was nearly 70 years old.

Plaque at Boyce Cox Field, Bristol, VA

In 1999, the Bristol Pirates installed a plaque commemorating Necciai’s accomplishment at Boyce Cox Field and Ron was there for the unveiling. Although once bitter for his perceived exploitation by the Pirates, Necciai enjoyed a successful business career and his disenchantment waned as he got older.

While it would certainly be possible for his record to be broken, it seems rather unlikely anyone will ever fan more than 27 batters in a nine-inning professional game. Reflecting back on his short-but-memorable baseball career, Necciai offer this perspective, “I gave baseball a nickel and got a million dollars back in return.”

Sources:
Corbett, Wayne. Ron Necciai SABR Player Bio, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/d9dbd5a8
“Necciai Asks Reinstatement with Twinks,” The Californian (Salinas, California), February 18, 1955.
“Necciai Pettit Go,” The Times (San Mateo, California), April 29, 1955.
“Don (sic) Necciai Quits Waco Baseball Club,” The Eagle (Bryan, Texas) May 25, 1955.
https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/n/necciro01.shtml

Photo credits:
Featured image / Vernon Daily Record (Vernon, Texas) June 5, 1952.
Commemorative plaque / http://sportsroadtrips.blogspot.com/2016/07/danville-braves-5-at-bristol-pirates-0.html

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