Oct 8, 2015

Early 20th Century New York Giants Pitching Star: Rube Marquard (1908-1914)

Richard William Marquard was born on October 9, 1886 in Cleveland, Ohio. Marquad was the son of an Ohio engineer. He grew up making a name for himself pitching on the sandlots of Cleveland.

He pitched in organized ball until he was 18 years old, against his parents' wishes he signed a contract with the New York Giants who out bid his home town Cleveland Indians.

He earned the nickname "Rube" because he looked like the great pitcher Rube Wadell. The six foot three inch, pitcher threw left handed but batted right handed. He was tall & so skinny, one paper commented, that he looked like the number one on that mound. He arrived with the Giants in late 1908 just in time to witness the famous “Merkles Boner” game from the bench.

He made his debut a few days later at the Polo Grounds. He hit the first batter he faced, walked the next two & then gave up a grand slam HR. It was not a good start & the fans let him have it. He was quickly labeled "the $11,000 lemon". The Giants finished second that year after losing a make up game (which was really like a one game playoff) to the Chicago Cubs.

In his first full year in 1909 he went 5-13, posting a strong 2.60 ERA as the Giants fell to third place. He followed with a -4 year but turned it all around by 1911. He know controlled his good fastball, added a forkball & change up.

Marquard went on an incredible record setting winning streak & had one of baseball best ever pitching seasons. He got the Giants Opening Day start in 1911 and beat the rival Brooklyn Dodgers. He went undefeated in all of that April & got stronger in May winning seven straight games.

In June he won eight more games besting himself to 18-0. At the start of July he notched another victory over Brooklyn, setting a post 20th century MLB record of 19 straight wins.

He had actually won twenty straight games but a relief win wasn't credited to him at the time. The streak ended in Chicago On July 8th, when he was beaten by the Chicago Cubs. During the win streak he had beaten every team in the league at least twice, He beat Brooklyn three times, Boston & Philadelphia four times each.

By the time he was 19-0, only two other pitchers in the league had as many as ten wins. Marquard pitched 16 complete games in the stretch allowing only 49 runs, 41 of which were earned. He went out & celebrated buying an opal stick pin, but then friend told him opal was bad luck, so he went & threw it into a river. Bad luck or not the win streak ended and he went 7-11 the rest of the season.

He finished the Giants Pennant 1911 season winning 24 games (24-7) leading the league in winning percentage (.772) & strike outs (237) posting a 2.05 ERA.

The Giants staff that season also featured Christy Mathewson (26-13) Doc Crandal (15-5) Hooks Wiltse (12-9) & Red Ames (11-10). John McGraw's Giants won 99 games but lost the World Series to Connie Mack's Philadelphia A’s. Marquard was the losing pitcher to Eddie Plank in Game #2, he pitched into the 8th inning allowing three runs.

In Game #4 at the Polo Grounds he gave up three runs in the third inning & was relieved by Coc Crandall. The Giants went on to a 4-3 win with Marquard earning no decision. Over all he pitched in three games of the Series, allowing six runs only two earned runs over 11 innings of work taking going 0-1.

Actress Blossom Seely
The historic winning streak brought him fame & plenty of show-business offers. He had made his vaudeville debut after the 1912 season made a movie with Alice Joyce called "19 Straight."

Soon he married singer/actress Blossom Seeley who had some hits records & was part of a famous vaudeville act. He teamed up with her in a skit called "Breaking the Record" & They did a dance called the Marquard Glide.

In 1913 they did an act called "The Suffragette Pitcher," in which Rube put on a dress and pitched for Blossom's all-girl team. In 1912 he had another great season, leading the league in wins (26-11) with 175 strike outs & a 2.57 ERA. The Giants won the pennant that year too but lost a heart breaker World Series to the Boston (Pilgrims) Red Sox.

Post Season: Marquard had a fine Series that year, starting out with a complete game victory in Game #3 at Boston's Fenway Park.

In Game #6 Marquard took the mound in the Polo Grounds and allowed two runs on seven hits, beating the Red Sox 5-2 in another complete game outing.

In the 1912 World Series he was 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA, striking out nine batters in 18 innings. He allowed 14 & two walks hits but kept them in check, baring down with runners in scoring position.

In 1913 he won twenty games for the third straight season, 23-10 with 151 strike outs while posting a 2.50 ERA. He pitched in 288 innings only walking 49 batters. That season McGraw's Giants went to their third straight World Series but this time losing again to the Philadelphia A’s. Marquard took the loss in the Series opener, getting hit hard for five runs on eight hits in five innings pitched. In Game #4 he came in to relieve Al Demaree in the 5th inning, he allowed two more runs earning no decision in the 6-5 loss in Philadelphia.

In 1914 he dropped to 12-22, the second most losses in the league, while posting a 3.06 ERA. The next season he threw a no hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers in April and had a better year, going 9-8 but finding it harder to strike guys out.

Toward the end of the year he was traded to the Brooklyn Robins and would spend the next six seasons there (1915-1920). He made a comeback to win 13 games for the first place Robins in 1916 (going 13-6) but lost two games to the Boston Red Sox in the 1916 World Series.

In 1917, although the Robins dropped to seventh place, he won 19 games (19-12). Marquard posted a 2.55 ERA, striking out 107 batters, while pitching over 200 innings, for the second of three straight seasons. Strangely the next season he fell off to lead the league in losses with 18 (9-18) but still posted an ERA of 2.64.

He got into another World Series with Brooklyn , in 1920 after pitching a 10-7 season. In the World Series he took a 3-1 loss in the opener to the Cleveland Indians. He was sent to Cincinnati where we won 17 games for the Reds in one brief season.

Marquard then was off to the Boston Braves where he had two 11 win seasons but both years lost more games than he won. He missed most of the 1924 season due to illness & in 1925 pitched in 26 games, making eight starts going 2-8 at the age of 39.

He ended his 18 season career at 201-177 (110th most wins all time-79th most losses all time) with 1593 strike outs (162nd all time) and a 3.08 ERA (189th all time) pitching in 3306 innings (89th all time) over 536 games. He made 407 starts (119th all time) with 197 complete games (142nd all time) & 30 shut outs (110th all time).

Retirement: After baseball he was a coach, a scout and a manager at the minor league level. He was even an umpire for a brief time. For years he then worked at mutual betting windows at racetracks in Florida and Maryland.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown by the Veterans committee in 1971. He lived until 93 years of age, passing in Baltimore Maryland in 1980.

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