Hard-throwing but erratic All-Star pitcher
Ryne Duren, an All-Star pitcher known for a 100 mph fastball, occasional wildness and Cokebottle glasses that created a most intimidating presence on the mound, died Jan. 6 at his winter home in Lake Wales, Fla. He was 81. The cause of death was not disclosed.
An All Star in three seasons, Mr. Duren helped the New York Yankees reach theWorld Series in 1958 and 1960.
Mr. Duren’s blazing heater — and 20/200 vision in his left eye, 20/70 in his right — always attracted attention. He was known for coming out of the bullpen and throwing at least one of his warmup pitches to the backstop on the fly. He later kidded that he sometimes did it on purpose. Regardless, opposing batters took notice, and his reputation grew.
“Ryne could throw the heck out of the ball,” Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra said Friday. “He threw fear in some hitters. I remember he had several pair of glasses but it didn’t seem like he saw good in any of them.
Mr. Duren played for seven teams during a big league career from 1954 to 1965. He went 27-44 with a 3.83 ERA in 311 appearances, all but 32 in relief.
“He added a lot of life to the Yankees and it was sad his drinking shortened his career,” Berra said.
Mr. Duren wrote about his alcohol problems in his books “I Can See Clearly Now” and “ The Comeback.” He spent many years working with ballplayers, helping them with their addictions, and was honored by the Yankees for his efforts.
“Everybody knew Ryne,” former Yankees teammate Bobby Richardson told the Associated Press by phone. “He was a legend.”
“But I can tell you, it was no fun to hit against him. Everyone was afraid he was going to hit them.”
Richardson, the 1960 World Series MVP who later worked for the Baseball Assistance Team and Baseball Chapel, praised Mr. Duren’s efforts off the field.
“He helped so many former ballplayers, counseling them and doing follow-up work,” he said. “He really made a difference in so many lives.”
In 1986, Mr. Duren testified in New York at a state Assembly hearing that was considering a bill requiring an alcohol-free zone at sporting events with 250 or more spectators.
Rinold George Duren was born in Cazenovia, Wis., and was a prep star. His fastball was so overpowering, his youth coaches often had him play the infield, rather than risk having him hurt someone with his pitches.
He made his major league debut with Baltimore in 1954. He led the AL with 20 saves for the Yankees in 1958. That fall, he won Game 6 of theWorld Series with 4 2-3 impressive innings against the Milwaukee Braves. The Yankees then won Game 7 for the championship.
Mr. Duren was 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA in five World Series games. He was with the Yankees from 1958 to 1961 and played for Baltimore, the Kansas City Athletics, Angels, Cincinnati, Philadelphia andWashington.
Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg was named for Mr. Duren.
Pitcher Ryne Duren, who played for the New York Yankees and several other teams, was known for a 100 mph fastball, occasional wildness and thick glasses that created an intimidating presence on the mound.