Via Madison.com –
Wisconsin native Ryne Duren, one of Major League Baseball’s premier relief pitchers during the 1950s and a familiar face in recent years at Madison Mallards games, died Thursday at his winter home in Lake Wales, Fla. He was 81.
Duren, who lived most of his life in Cazenovia near Richland Center, was a key member of New York Yankees teams that won the American League Championship in 1958 and 1960. He also helped the Yankes defeat his homestate Milwaukee Braves in the 1958 World Series.
A hard-throwing right-hander whose pitches were clocked at more than 100 mph, Duren was also known for the thick glasses he wore to correct his 20/200 vision. He was signed by the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) as a free agent before the 1949 season and made his major league debut with the Orioles in 1954 when the first batter to face him was his boyhood idol Phil Cavaretta.
He was traded from Kansas City to the Yankes in 1957 and assigned to the Denver Bears, the Yankees’ farm team. He threw a no-hitter in his first start for the Bears and became a fan favorite and instant drawing card among Denver baseball fans, delaying his promotion to the Yankees.
Duren played for seven MLB teams during his career — the last the Washington Senators in 1965. He was a three-time All-Star — allowing one hit (to Henry Aaron) in three innings in the 1959 mid-summer classic while striking out four batters, including Willie Mays and Eddie Matthews — and finished his career 27-44 with 57 saves and a 3.83 earned-run average.
Throughout his career, Duren was plagued by alcohol addicition that cut short his career. In 1983, Duren received the Yankees Family Award for conquering alcoholism and for his service as an alcohol abuse educator.
I really feel bad for those who were fans of the Yankees during the 1950′s. It seems like a lot of these guys are passing away lately. Keep an eye on Yogi and Whitey. And, appreciate them being here while you can…