Ryne Duren passed away Thursday. He was 81 .
Duren is remembered mostly for his years with the Yankees, and more recently, for being the inspiration for Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg's first name. The original Ryne threw very hard - he recorded 630 strikeouts in 589 innings over 10 seasons, mostly in relief - and for his poor eyesight, which resulted in 392 bases on balls. Duren wore glasses on the mound and had a serious drinking problem, which shortened his career.
I doubt many local fans remember that he finished his career with the Senators in 1965, and that he very nearly killed himself that season. In what turned out to be his final big league appearance, he came into a game against the White Sox at D.C. Stadium on Aug. 18 in the ninth inning with Chicago on top 6-0. He walked Don Buford and gave up a single to Floyd Robinson, and was replaced by Mike McCormick.
After the game - an 8-2 Senators' loss - Duren went out for a few drinks, and ended up on a bridge, shouting and threatening to jump. Gil Hodges was brought to the scene by District police and talked him down, and a week later, Duren was released.
Duren later went through rehabilitation and became a counselor to others with similar issues. In 1978, he wrote a book called "The Comeback," which detailed his problems with the bottle. For his career, Duren was 27-44 with 57 saves and a 3.83 ERA.
Duren was a Senator for less than three months, and never had an official photograph taken while he was there. I came up with one a fan took from the stands at Comiskey Park in Chicago, but he's not really looking at the camera. He signed it for me several years ago and remarked he'd never seen a photo of himself in a Washington uniform.
For the record, Duren wore uniform No. 17 for the Senators, and in 16 games was 1-1, with a 6.65 ERA, 18 strikeouts and 18 walks in 23 innings. Rest in peace.