Rudolph Anthony Minarcin
Born: March 25, 1930 (North Vandergrift, Penn.)
Died: October 15, 2013 (Cabot, Penn.)
Rudy Minarcin was a right-handed pitcher from Pennsylvania who spent parts of three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team. His 11-2 record in 1954 helped the baseball Leafs win the International League pennant.
Minarcin (min-AR-sin) was born to immigrants from what is now part of the Czech Republic. A star athlete at Vandergrift High, young Rudy was pursued as a prospect by both baseball and football teams. He rejected 30 football scholarship offers to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies for $6,000 before being assigned to the hometown Vandergrift Pioneers.
The rights to the 6-foot, 195-pounder were snagged by the Cincinnati Reds in 1950. The pitcher made a steady climb up the minor-league ladder until called to service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was about to ship overseas as a physical education instructor when he suffered a serious knee injury while playing touch football.
The Reds optioned him to Toronto after spring training. While his earned-run average was a mediocre 3.60, Minarcin won several key games for manager Luke Sewell. Toronto claimed the pennant only to be eliminated in a six-game playoff by the Syracuse Chiefs, who had trailed them by 18 1/2 games in the regular season.
Minarcin made his major-league debut the following season with Cincinnati, who, in the midst of the anti-Communist Red Scare hysteria, had altered the team nickname to Redlegs. On June 4, 1955, Minarcin pitched a one-hit, complete-game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field. The lone hit was a single by Dale Long that Cincinnati first basemen Ted Kluszewski said he did not at first pick up because of the white shirts in the crowd behind home plate. Minarcin faced just 28 batters, one over the minimum, and drove in two runs himself, the only time he would ever drive in a run in a major-league game.
He went 5-9 for Cincinnati in 1955. The Boston Red Sox purchased him late in the 1956 season. He went 1-0 in 29 games, all but one in relief, over two seasons.
Minarcin spent most of the 1956 season with the Havana Sugar Kings, the third country in which he had played as a pro, before ending his career with two more seasons in Toronto. His record in Canada was 20-12 over three seasons.
After leaving baseball, he ran his father’s grocery store, Martin’s Market, from 1959 until 1995.