By JOHN LIKANJE
Although the Red Wings missed the 1959 International League playoffs, they came close. They most likely wouldn’t have been in postseason contention if not for Dick Ricketts.
The 6-foot-7 right-hander’s season statistics may seem misleading: a 6-10 record with a 3.48 earned run average and 106 strikeouts in 119 innings. But Ricketts pitched like an ace down the stretch, especially against Toronto.
On this day 61 years ago, Ricketts tossed a five-hit complete game to defeat the Maple Leafs, 12-1. It was his third consecutive victory and second straight over the division rivals. The win drew the Red Wings to within three games of the Richmond Virginians for the final International League postseason slot with seven contests remaining.
Ricketts didn’t have to worry about his offense backing him up as he was rewarded all 12 runs in the first four innings. Luke Easter drove in five runs while Gene Green had four of his own.
Ricketts limited the damage to a sacrifice fly in the fifth along with two free passes. Otherwise, the 6-foot-7 right-hander only needed four strikeouts to navigate the Maple Leafs’ lineup instead of 10 in his previous head-to-head matchup.
The Red Wings finished the 1959 season with a 74-80 record, two games behind the Virginians. The Virginians stunned the top-seeded Buffalo Bisons in five games before falling to the Havana Sugar Kings in the International League Finals in six.
Also on this day: 1984 – Rochester was swept in a doubleheader against Syracuse. The losses (No. 86 and 87) clinched the worst record in modern history for the Red Wings; 2005 – Red Wings manager Phil Roof rejoined the club Friday night for the last home series of the season and watched them pound out 16 hits in a 14-6 win over the Syracuse SkyChiefs.