RICHMOND, Va. -- Ron Necciai was a chronic worrier, and he had the ulcers to prove it.
Even as this lanky 19-year-old phenom was turning in one of the greatest pitching performances in the history of the game, he was guzzling milk in the dugout, trying to calm his angry gut. In Bristol, at least, he had little to worry about. He effortlessly mowed down opposing D-league batters, and earned himself a promotion, first to Burlington of the Carolina League, and, in August of 1952, to the parent club in Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately for Necciai, the 1952 Pirates were terrible...historically so... and he stumbled to a 1-6 record. Still, the raw talent he showed in the minors was undeniable, and he figured to be a big part of the team’s future plans.
His luck remained awful, as he was drafted into the US Army in early 1953, his health was an issue from day one, and he was soon given a medical discharge as his ulcers wreaked havoc on his body. His disastrous stint in the service, along with overuse to the young pitcher’s arm the previous season, likely contributed to a rotator cuff injury in spring training that would essentially end his career.
Maybe Necciai was right to worry, after all.
[caption id="attachment_827038" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] ROB ULLMAN / DKPS[/caption]