Ronald Andrew Necciai
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 5", Weight 185 lb.
- High School Monongahela High School
- Debut August 10, 1952
- Final Game September 28, 1952
- Born June 18, 1932 in Gallatin, PA USA
Ron Necciai was a pitcher with a brief major league career who earned his fame by striking out 27 batters in one game in the minors. He often suffered from ulcers and an arm injury ended his career at a young age.
Necciai earned his brief major league appearance after completing one of the most improbable pitching feats in the history of professional baseball. On May 13, 1952, while pitching for the Bristol Twins in the Appalachian League, Necciai threw a complete game no-hitter that featured 27 strikeouts (he had previously had games where he struck out 20 and 19 in back-to-back appearances).
Through 8 2/3 innings, Necciai had "only" 25 strikeouts, but his catcher dropped strike three for what would have been the last out of the game, giving him an opportunity to face one more batter, who he struck out for number 27. For the game, only two batters put the ball in play. Bob Ganung grounded out to first base in the 2nd inning and Whitehead reached on an error in the 9th.
Necciai followed up this performance with a 24-strikeout day on May 21st before being promoted, giving him final career numbers in Bristol of 4-0 with 109 Ks in 43 innings. His ERA for Bristol was 0.42.
After dominating the Appalachian League, Necciai was promoted to the Burlington-Graham Pirates of the class B Carolina League. He dominated there as well, posting an ERA of 1.57 and striking out 172 in 136 innings, allowing only 73 hits. Burlington was the worst team in the league and had the least productive offense, so Necciai only went 7-9 for the team.
The great work in the minors earned him a call-up to the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the midst of their worst season of the 20th century. He went 1-6 with an ERA of 7.08 for the Pirates. In 54 2/3 innings, he had 32 strikeouts and gave up 33 walks. The next season he suffered an arm injury, causing him to retire one year after his record performance.
He was in the Army in 1953, spending much time in the hospital due to his bleeding ulcers. His sore arm, perhaps caused by trying to get into form too quickly after being in the Army, cost him his job with the Pirates in the spring of 1953, and while he tried comebacks in the minors in 1953 and 1955, that was it. After baseball, he became a partner in Hays, Necciai & Associates, a hunting and fishing equipment supplier, for many years.
Pirates GM Branch Rickey said: "There have only been two young pitchers I was certain were destined for greatness, simply because they had the meanest fastball a batter can face. One of those boys was Dizzy Dean. The other is Necciai. And Necciai is harder to hit."
"We chatted a while and then he says 'Throw strikes, kid,' in that quiet way of his. 'You've got to throw strikes if you want to stay up here.' The great ones always have such simple advice." - Necciai's account of when Stan Musial, also from western Pennsylvania, gave him some advice
"I was 23 years old, and it was over." - Necciai, talking about his rotator cuff injury