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Ray Collins

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Raymond Williston Collins

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[edit] Biographical Information

Ray Collins was a left-handed pitcher on some very good Boston Red Sox teams, whose career was cut prematurely short.

He was born on a dairy farm in the village of Colchester, VT, located a few miles from Burlington, VT, but grew up in Burlington and attended the University of Vermont there. He was a teammate of Larry Gardner in college and the two of them brought their school great success on the baseball field, leading it to the New England championship in 1908, Collins' junior year. Gardner signed a professional contract with the Red Sox after that season, but Collins stayed for another year, going out in a blaze of glory by striking out 19 Penn State batters in his last start in 1909. He was heavily scouted by professional teams, but chose to follow his friend Gardner to Boston.

Ray Collins pitched a shutout against the Detroit Tigers in only his second major league start for the Red Sox on July 25, 1909 and finished that first season with a 4-3 record and a 2.81 ERA, being used only sporadically as was often the case with young pitchers at the time. He claimed a regular turn in the Boston starting rotation in 1910 and had an excellent year, finishing second on the team with 13 wins and sixth in the American League with a 1.62 ERA. He started 1911 slowly, sporting a record of 3-6 at one point, and ended the year with a disappointing 11-12 record in spite of a 2.40 ERA.

1912 was one of the greatest years in Red Sox history, and Ray Collins was a big part of it. The team won its second World Championship with a victory over the New York Giants in the World Series. Collins went 13-8 with 4 shutouts and a 2.53 ERA. He pitched twice in the World Series: a 7 1/3 inning no-decision in Game 2, which ended in a tie because of darkness, and a brilliant seven-inning scoreless performance in relief of Buck O'Brien in a losing cause in Game 6. Collins staked a claim among the American League's elite pitchers in 1913 and 1914, with records of 19-8 and 20-13 respectively.

At the age of 28 in 1915, Ray Collins suddenly lost his touch. He was only 4-7 that season, with a very high 4.30 ERA (the league ERA was 2.78) in making only 9 starts. While newspaper accounts of the time do not indicate that he was injured, it is the most likely explanation for such a rapid loss of effectiveness. The Red Sox returned to the World Series that year, but Collins was left to watch from the bench as his teammates defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 1 with Rube Foster, Ernie Shore and Dutch Leonard doing all of the pitching. Collins retired after the season and returned to Vermont, where he took over running the family farm. From 1923-1926, he was also apparently head coach of the University of Vermont. He was also elected to the state legislature, was Colchester's zoning administrator and served on his alma mater's board of trustees. He died in Burlington on January 9, 1970 at age 82.

On the mound, Collins can best be described as a prototypical "crafty left-hander". He didn't throw with much speed, but had a highly deceptive motion that was described by one reporter as like "an explosion in a leg and arm factory". It is likely that such a pitching style was physically very demanding, and that he could not have survived losing any velocity on his pitches. For his career, he was 84-62, with an excellent 2.51 ERA. He struck out 100 batters only once, in his first full season, but compensated this by very good control, as his strikeout to walk ratio lifetime was 511 to 269.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (1913 & 1914)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1914)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (1910, 1913 & 1914)
  • Won two World Series with the Boston Red Sox (1912 & 1915 - he did not play in the 1915 World Series)

[edit] Further Reading

  • Tom Simon: "Ray Williston Collins", in David Jones, ed.: Deadball Stars of the American League, SABR, Potomac Books, Inc., Dulles, VA, 2006, pp. 445-446.

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