Monongahela's Necciai earns state hall of fame induction
The only person in professional baseball history to strike out 27 batters in one game will be the 18th Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame member to be inducted into the statewide Pennsylvania Hall of Fame this November.
Ron Necciai, a 1950 graduate of Monongahela High School, is one of 11 persons comprising the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame's 2014 class.
He joins Joe Amato (drag racing, Luzerne County), Deborah Black (women's basketball, Bucks County), Joe Bressi (women's basketball coach, Ed Romance Chapter), John Cartwright (football, Delaware County), Robert Donato (basketball official, Delaware County), Gerald Karver (track and field, Berks County), John McDonald (football-track, Allen-Rogowicz chapter), Robert Mlkvy (basketball, Carbon County) and Lance Rautzhan (baseball, Allen-Rogowicz chapter).
Two deceased legendary inductees include writer and broadcaster Myron Cope (Western Chapter) and broadcaster Harry Kalas (Delaware County).
The 2014 PASHOF induction ceremony and activities will take place Nov. 7-8 at The Woodlands Inn in Wilkes Barre.
On May 13, 1952, in a Class D Appalachian League game while pitching for the Bristol (Va.) Twins, Necciai struck out 27 Welch (W.Va.) Miners. Four Welch hitters reached base: on a walk, an error, a hit by pitch and a passed ball on a swinging third strike. Necciai finished with a 7-0 win and no-hitter.
Afterward, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues called the 27-strikeout game, “the greatest individual performance in the history of baseball.” Baseball Today called it professional baseball's “unreachable stat.”
Incredibly, Necciai struck out 24 batters in his next start, a two-hit victory. In that season he struck out 109 hitters in 43 innings with Bristol (0.42 ERA), and a Class B Carolina League leading 172 in 126 innings with a 1.57 ERA at Burlington (N.C.) before being called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates in August 1952.
His only win for the major league club came against the Boston Braves on Aug. 24 in a 4-3 win, in which he struck out only one batter and walked two.
He was drafted into the Army in 1953, but an ulcer led to a medical discharge that April. He returned to the Pirates' farm system, strained his arm (torn rotator cuff), and gave up pitching by 1955 after sitting out all of 1954.
According to author George Stone in his book “Rocket Ron, former Brooklyn Dodgers and Pirates general manager Branch Rickey once said he had seen only two pitchers — Christy Mathewson and Dizzy Dean — who threw harder than Necciai.
Born in Gallatin, the 6-foot-5-inch, 185-pound, right-handed Necciai lettered in football, basketball, and baseball at Monongahela High School and helped the 1949 Wildcats win the Big 5 Football Conference championship.
Necciai, who will turn 82 years old June 18, was elected into the Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.
He went on to a successful career as a partner in Hays, Necciai & Associates, a hunting and fishing equipment supplier. He and his wife, Martha, reside in Rostraver Township, and are the parents of three grown children.
The other Mon Valley hall inductees to earn membership into the state hall are Louis “Bimbo” Cecconi, H.C. “Red” Carlson, Fred Cox, Arnold Galiffa, Dale Hamer, Sam Havrilak, Ken Griffey Sr., Bill Malinchak, Bap Manzini, Stan Musial, Armand J. Niccolai, John Potsklan, Myron Pottios, Bert Rechichar, Jim Russell, Sever J. Toretti and “Deacon” Dan Towler.
Other Mon Valley standouts inducted into the statewide hall of fame through other chapters include Fran Rogel (Western Chapter) and Steve Filipowicz (Lower Anthracite).
Necciai's honor marks the sixth time in eight years that a Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame member will be inducted into the Pennsylvania hall.
Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.