Ronald Hamilton Blackburn
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 160 lb.
- School Catawba College, Western Carolina University
- Debut April 15, 1958
- Final Game July 28, 1959
- Born April 23, 1935 in Mount Airy, NC USA
- Died April 29, 1998 in Morganton, NC USA
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Ron Blackburn as an amateur free agent in early summer of 1953 and he spent that season with the class D Fond du Lac Panthers and the class B Burlington-Graham Pirates. He appeared in 14 games and had a 5-1 record with a 3.53 ERA.
Ron spent four more seasons in the minors, with the St. Jean Canadians, Phoenix Stars, Williamsport Grays, New Orleans Pelicans and the Columbus Jets before getting his inaugural appearance in the majors with the Pirates in 1958.
Blackburn talked about his major league debut. "Hank Aaron was the first hitter I faced. It was Opening Day, 1958, at Milwaukee County Stadium. I remember it right down to the last patron: 44,344 fans in the stands. I came on in the bottom of the 9th inning, the score was tied and Hank tapped a grounder between short and third and Dick Groat went over and fielded it straight in front of me and was unable to make a throw. So he beat it out for a single. I faced nine more hitters and no one else got on base and I got the victory that day, 3-2."
Ron spent the 1958 year and most of the 1959 season with the Pirates, finishing 3-2 with four saves in 64 games, pitching 108 innings, mostly in relief roles, with a 3.50 ERA. These two seasons were all Ron would see of the majors as he was back with the AAA Columbus Jets in 1960.
He spent four more seasons in the high minors and ended his pro baseball career in 1964 with the Asheville Tourists of the Southern League. Ron spent 12 years in the pros from 1953 through 1964. Over those twelve seasons he appeared in 379 games, winning 84 and losing 80, pitching 1,374 innings, giving up 1,404 base hits and 469 base on balls for a career .461 ERA.
A native of North Carolina, he attended Catawba College during the off-season and went on to earn a master's degree in health and physical education from Western Carolina University. Ron was a teacher and baseball coach at the university before becoming the recreation director at the Western Correction Center in Morganton, NC, where he died April 29, 1998, at the age of 63.