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This Day in Yankees History: Red Ruffing Does it All in 6-1 Win- August 5, 1939

Disclaimer: Barely got this one in on time. That's what spending the day somewhere without much Internet access beyond the mobile will do.

Charles "Red" Ruffing does not get enough credit for being one of the best pitchers in the history of the New York Yankees. In perhaps the worst player exchange between the Yankees and Red Sox, New York obtained his services in exchange for reserve outfielder Cedric Durst and $50,000 (Durst had a wRC+ of 61 in 102 games with Boston, then left baseball). The Yankees reaped the benefits, as Ruffing was almost certainly the finest righthanded pitcher in franchise history--he pitched more innings in pinstripes than anyone not named "Whitey Ford," and had a 2.63 ERA in 10 World Series starts from 1932-42. The Hall of Famer was also one of the greatest-hitting pitchers any team has ever seen; only Wes Ferrell topped Ruffing's 36 career homers. Both of his talents were on display when the Yankees played the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on August 5, 1939.

The Yankees were three-time defending World Series champions and dominated the American League by at least 9.5 games in each year they won the pennant from 1936-38, but '39 was a challenge for them. They dealt with the loss of their captain, Lou Gehrig, due to an incurable disease and still won 106 games, taking the pennant by 17 games. They carried an eight-game lead going into this Saturday afternoon matchup with the Indians. Cleveland certainly wasn't a bad team since they finished the year over .500, but when a great pitcher like Ruffing had everything working, there was not much they could do. Ruffing and 23-year-old southpaw Harry Eisenstat (recently obtained in an unpopular trade for Hall of Fame center fielder Earl Averill) both pitched shutout ball through four and a half innings. Ruffing stepped to the plate against Eisenstat and notched the game's first run by sending an Eisenstat pitch over the fence for solo homer, his lone roundtripper of the '39 season (he still hit .307/.347/.342 though).

Ruffing should have held the slim lead through the sixth inning, but his normally-reliable defense betrayed him. He walked right fielder Bruce Cambell (no, not the B-movie star), who then tore around the bases on a hit-and-run when first baseman Hal Trosky singled to left fielder. George Selkirk threw the ball home to catcher Bill Dickey, who was prepared to tag Campbell out, but he dropped the ball and Campbell scored to tie game. Undeterred, the Yankees came back an inning later with a five-run frame in the bottom of the seventh. In a two-out rally, third baseman Red Rolfe and right fielder Charlie Keller smacked RBI singles to bring home first baseman Babe Dahlgren and shortstop Frankie Crosetti, then Hall of Fame center fielder Joe DiMaggio "lifted a tremendous blow into the lower leftfield stands" to make the score 6-1. Ruffing did not allow an earned run in the entire game, and he finished up his seven hitter with two more scoreless innings. For good measure, Ruffing was perfect at the plate on the day with a walk, a home run, and a single. Perhaps in true old-timey baseball fashion, the whole contest only lasted an hour and 37 minutes despite 17 hits between the two squads. The win was the Yankees' 14th in 16 tries thus far against a good 49-47 Indians team. The '39 Yanks were just that good.

Box score. Recap.