|Played for New York Yankees (1946-1953), St. Louis Cardinals (1954-1955), Kansas City Royals (1955)
Postseason: 1947 WS, 1949 WS, 1950 WS, 1951 WS, 1952 WS,. 1953 WS
All Star 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952
Victor John Angelo Raschi out of Springfield, Massachusetts, started late but made up for it, becoming a four-time All-Star during his ten-year career. He was already twenty-eight years old in 1948 when he became a regular part of the Yankee pitching rotation.
Averaging twenty wins a season over the next five years, anchoring a pitching staff that won five straight world championships, the man they called the Springfield Rifle won five World Series games for the Yanks with a 2.24 ERA in 58-2/3 innings. He was truly a big-game pitcher.
A constant five-o-clock shadow, scowling demeanor, blazing fastball, and a work ethic that saw him pitch through pain made him a main man on those great 1950s teams.
In 1949 Raschi won twenty-one games and pitched the pennant-clincher against the Red Sox on the last day of the season. In 1950, Raschi went 21-8 and pitched a two-hit 1-0 shutout in the World Series opener against the Phillies.
In 1951, Raschi again won twenty-one games as well as that year's final World Series game against the New York Giants. In 1952, Raschi's knees were starting to give way on him. But always the tough guy, Raschi toughed it out, winning sixteen games, posting a career-best ERA of 2.78. In the 1952 World Series he won two more games.
Knee problems in 1953 forced Raschi to pitch less than two hundred innings, but he still managed to win thirteen games. In game three of the 1953 World Series against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, he pitched a complete game but took a 3-2 loss. That was his final appearance as a Yankee.
Contract difficulties ended his time as a Yankee and he was sold to the Cardinals. On the all-time Yankee list, Vic Raschi still ranks fifteenth in strikeouts, thirteenth in innings pitched, eleventh in wins, and ninth in shutouts.
-- Harvey Frommer
A Yankee Century
For Vic Raschi, an earnest, intelligent, no-nonsense individual, another product of a Depression childhood, life had always been serious. When Raschi became a professional athlete, he understood and appreciated the importance of success, and he dedicated himself to that success with a solemn passion. Even at the end of his career he was one of the hardest workers. During spring training he could always be seen running wind sprints and doing sit-ups, working behind gritted teeth long after everyone else had packed it in for the day.
Raschi was a quiet, conservative person, a religious family man who outside of his intimate friends remained closed and introverted. He made a special effort to avoid publicity. When a reporter insisted upon interviewing him, Raschi would be evasive and unresponsive to the questions, and there were times when a particularly annoying reporter would discover his shoes covered with tobacco juice after an interview .... A cold, humorless quality kept jim at arm's length from strangers.
When Raschi crossed the white foul line to the mound, his latent hostility actively simmered. He was grim and ornery, a frightening man to face, and when he pitched even his teammates behind him left him alone. Once, when Raschi was in a jam with runners on base, Stengel wanted Yogi Berra, early in his catching career, to tell Raschi to pitch with more deliberation. While Stengel shouted out to Berra to call time and go out to the mound, Berra kept looking over to the dugout and shaking his head no. Finally, Stengel took some money out of his wallet and shook the bills in the air, a warning that Berra would be fined if he didn't go out there. Reluctantly Yogi called time-out and started to the mound. Getting about halfway, he was met by a brown stream of tobacco juice. "Not another step," barked Raschi, standing imperiously at the top of the mound. "Get the hell out of here now." Berra, without a word, returned to his position behind the plate as Raschi pitched out of the jam.
.... On occasion, when [Raschi] had a big lead, his infielders enjoyed teasing him gently. Raschi had one superstition to which he adamantly adhered. After the Yankees threw the ball around the infield following an out, Raschi insisted that he be positioned with his right foot on the rubber before he would accept the ball from the third-baseman. Most of the time third-basemen Billy Johnson and Bobby Brown respected Raschi's idiosyncrasy, but sometimes they would deliberately throw the ball a couple of feet behind Raschi so he had to reach back, losing his balance and removing his right foot from the rubber to catch it. Raschi would glare menacingly at the offender as the rest of the infielders laughed behind their gloves.
Vic Raschi was one of the best of the modern-day pitchers, for seven years the most dependable pitcher on the Yankee staff, an uncomplaining man who never mentioned the bone chips in his pitching arm and who successfully hid a painful ligament condition in his right knee. "I only have so many years in the game," Raschi once said, "and any time they ask me to pitch, I'm going to pitch."
Between his rookie year in 1947 and his final year as a Yankee in 1953 when Yankee general manager George Weiss coldheartedly traded him after a salary dispute, Victor Angelo John Raschi started 207 games, completed 99 of them, winning 120 and losing only 50: Hall of Fame quality pitching. Raschi was 7-2 for New York his rookie year in 1947, and for the next six years he compiled won-lost records of 19-8, 21-10, 21-8, 21-10, 16-6 and 13-6. With Raschi starring, the Yankees won pennants in '47, '49, '50, '51, '52 and '53, also winning the world series each of those years.
When the Yankees needed to win one game, Raschi was the man usually called on, despite his pitching the last few years with torn cartilages in his right knee. After a game, Raschi's knee would pain him so that he would hide in the trainer's room to kee pthe extent of his injury secret from the press. Even some of his teammates didn't realize how much pain he endured when he was pitching. But Raschi had learned to live with the pain, compensating by taking three strikes and staying off the base paths when a hit by him would have been meaningless.
At the end of each of his superb seasons Raschi exacted a healthy salary from George Weiss, who found Raschi to be as stubborn as he was. Because Raschi was the backbone of the staff and because the Yankees needed him so badly, Raschi usually had the advantage in the negotiations. Every year there would be salary battles .... Raschi merely argued his value to the Yankee team, and what was Weiss going to say, that Raschi wasn't valuable? For years Raschi tied Weiss's hands.
In 1952 Raschi had won sixteen games, but in spring training of 1953 his knee problems were worsening, and Weiss knew it. Despite the knee, after another prolonged salary fight Raschi again got what he was asking with the aid of Casey Stengel's prodding. As Raschi rose to leave Weiss's office after signing his contract, Weiss looked at his big pitcher and said, "Raschi, don't you ever have a bad year."
In '53 Raschi won only thirteen games -- for the big money he was getting, a bad year. When Raschi received his '54 contract calling for a twenty-five percent pay cut, Raschi said to his wife, "Mom, we're gone." Raschi returned the unsigned contract. "Mr. Weiss," he wrote, "I have made a cripple of myself."
That year Raschi was one of a dozen holdouts. After five consecutive world championships, the Yankee payroll was swelling beyong Weiss's penurious budget. When Raschi arrived in St. Petersburg, Florida, to continue negotations he learned that Weiss had sold him to the St. Louis Cardinals, creating a furor among his teammates, but also sufficiently scaring the other holdouts so that they quickly lined up to sign their contracts. A newspaperman informed Raschi of the sale. Weiss hadn't even bothered to tell him. Raschi went to see Weiss and said simply, "Mr. Weiss, you have a very short memory."
1954 was the first year since 1948 the Yankees did not win the pennant. The Raschi sale had made some of the other veterans leery and cynical, hurting the morale of the team. With Raschi, the Yankees could have won in '54. They needed him to win the big one, and he wasn't there.
-- Peter Golenbock
Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964
"Vic Raschi had a good fastball and he'd pound the ball on the inside, knocking you down. He was the first pitcher I saw who had a quick slider that would move away from right-handed hitters. And he threw a heavy ball and when you hit it you'd feel it clear up to your shoulder. Raschi was a good pitcher."
-- Eddie Joost
We Played the Game