Ronald Andrew Necciai was a 6 foot 5, 185 pound righthander who struck out 27 batters in a May 13,1952 game, which will be 60 years ago this year.
Necciai pitching for the Bristol Twins in the Class D Appalachian League struck out 27, while walking one in a 7-0 win over the Welch Miners. He was promoted later that month after striking out 109 in only 43 innings, posting a 4-0 record and a 0.42 ERA.
He was then promoted to Class B Burlington in the Carolina League. He pitched well there too, striking out 172 in 136 innings, posting a 7-9 record and 1.57 ERA. Burlington was the worst hitting team in the league explaining his 7-9 record. Necciai had struck out an amazing 281 batters in 179 innings, while allowing only 83 hits.
Then on August 10, 1952 after being called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Necciai made his first major league start, a loss to the Chicago Cubs who defeated the Pirates 9-5. He gave up seven runs, 11 hits and struck out three, while walking five.
His only win came against the Boston Braves on August 24 in a 4-3 win, in which he struck out only one batter and walked two. In his next start against the Braves he pitched only 2 2/3 innings walking eight, while striking out only one in a 16-0 win by the Braves.
Necciai would make what turned out to be his last major league start, on September 28, losing 3-2 to the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched well striking out eight.
1952 was a year he would never forget even if he was 1-6 with a 7.08 ERA, while pitching in the majors. Necciai had gone from striking out 27 in one game in May, to pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates in August and was only 20 when he made his major league debut.
His minor league success had not carried over the major leagues. He struck out only 31 in 54 major league innings,while walking 32 in the only season of his major league career.
June 18 will be the 80th birthday of Necciai, as he reflects on his short-lived major league career. His rotator cuff injury in 1953 would signal the end of his baseball career, culminating in him retiring in 1955 at the age of 23.
The Pirates GM Branch Rickey had this to say about Necciai:
“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.”
If Necciai had stayed healthy he may have been a dominant pitcher in the major leagues, but then based on his 1952 performance in the majors, he may not have lasted long anyway.
One thing nobody can take away from Necciai is the fact, that he retired every batter by strikeout on May 13, 1952, even if it was a minor league game.