Sunday, July 24, 2011

When Trucks collide

By Al Tays
Although he accomplished
absolutely nothing on the 
ballfield as a kid, Al Tays
did once whistle a puck past
lovely and beguiling hockey
goalie Manon Rheaume.
Given our blog founder's love of the Grand Old Game, we thought we'd do a little baseball/music combo this morning. In both worlds, the name "Trucks" commands enormous respect. Derek Trucks is, of course, the immensely talented guitarist associated with the Allman Brothers and various bands of his own. Virgil "Fire" Trucks was one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the history of baseball.

Derek Trucks is the nephew of Allmans drummer Butch Trucks. Butch Trucks is Virgil Trucks' nephew. In an excellent 2010 column for, longtime baseball writer Peter Gammons (who plays a mean Stratocaster himself) documented the 2008 meeting of Derek and Virgil.

Virgil wasn't very familiar with the musical legacy surrounding Derek. "I haven't listened to the Allman Brothers too much," the then-91-year-old told Gammons. "They don't play them much on the Birmingham (Ala.) station."

Derek knew about Virgil, however. He had one of Virgil's baseball cards on the back of his guitar. Another one of Virgil's cards has had a place on Butch Trucks' drum kit.

If Derek Trucks doesn't someday make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they should burn the place down (which might not be a bad idea anyway). Virgil Trucks isn't in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he put together some Hall-worthy accomplishments nevertheless.

How many pitchers do you know of who went 5-19 in a season, yet threw two no-hitters (and very nearly three)? If your answer is "one -- Virgil Trucks," congratulations. Pitching in 1952 for the Detroit Tigers, he no-hit the Washington Senators and New York Yankees (both 1-0 games). Trucks also threw four no-nos in the minors, and in 1938, in the Alabama-Florida League, he struck out 448 batters, the most K's ever recorded in a pro season.

Fortunately, there is no guitar equivalent of sabermetrics, so we can only appreciate a talent like Derek, not quantify him. There's so much video to choose from, but let's go with one from 1993 when he was only 13 years old, opening for the Allmans in Raleigh, N.C.

Plus, he's rockin' a sweet Braves hat.

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