Leon Ruffin

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Charles Leon Ruffin

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 175 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Leon Ruffin caught in the Negro Leagues and Mexican League in a 14-season career. He was friends and batterymates with another Leon, Leon Day. Ruffin made one All-Star team and was noted primarily for his strong arm as a backstop.

Ruffin debuted in 1935 with the Brooklyn Eagles. He hit .100 as the starter for the 1936 Newark Eagles. Moving to the Pittsburgh Crawfords, he backed up Pepper Bassett in 1937, then hit .217 as a starter in 1938. He started 1939 with the Crawfords, was dealt to Newark in May and ended the year with the Philadelphia Stars.

Ruffin hit .230/.283/.282 for the 1940 Torreon Cotton Dealers and .259/.315/.306 for the same club in 1941. He returned to Newark in 1942 and hit .286 in 1943 before leaving the club to join the US Navy. He served in the Navy from 1943-1945.

Returning to Newark for a fourth stint, he hit .391 in 1946, his best year. Had he qualified, he would have been fourth in the Negro National League ahead of even teammates Larry Doby and Monte Irvin as Newark won the pennant. In the first 1946 East-West Game, he took over the catching for the East after Josh Gibson left for a pinch-runner. Leon went 0 for 1 before Louis Louden replaced him. Surprisingly, he wasn't the only catcher in that All-Star contest born in Portsmouth, VA in the early 1910s - so was the West's Buster Haywood. In the 1946 Negro World Series, he went 7 for 25 as the Eagles beat the Kansas City Monarchs for the title.

Ruffin again jumped to Mexico, but hit only .229/.281/.271 for the 1947 Mexico City Red Devils. He then moved for 1948 to the St. Jean Braves of the Quebec Provincial League, batting .208 in 78 games but guided a strong pitching staff that included Terris McDuffie and Jean-Pierre Roy to a second-place finish. He wrapped up his career with the 1949-1950 Houston Eagles.

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