“Any hitter can hit a fast one. But not many can hit slow ones.” – Rube Marquard
It didn’t much matter what Rube Marquard threw in his 18-year career, as batters had trouble hitting it.
Marquard’s baseball career would never have even happened if his father had gotten his way. Fred Marquard was an engineer for the City of Cleveland and told his son if he played professional baseball he wouldn’t be allowed to return home.
But Marquard persisted, and his major league career began in 1908 when the New York Giants purchased his contract from Indianapolis for the then-record price of $11,000. He became known as the “$11,000 Beauty” and made his debut at the age of 21.
But Marquard initially did not live up to the lofty expectations his price placed on him, winning just nine games in his first two full seasons with the Giants. He became known as the “$11,000 Lemon.”
In 1911, however, his potential was realized, as he won 24 games and led the National League with 237 strikeouts. That season started a three-year run of success for both Marquard and the Giants. He won at least 20 games and helped the team to the World Series each year. Marquard began the 1912 season winning 19-straight decisions, a modern era record. He finished the year with 26 victories and added two more in the World Series, though New York lost to Boston.
With the success came increased fame for Marquard. He married vaudeville star Blossom Seeley, and the two performed their act across the country. He won 23 games in 1913 and in 1915 threw a no-hitter in his first outing of the season. Later in 1915 his contract was sold to Brooklyn, where he pitched for the next six years. He posted a career-best 1.58 ERA in 1916 and appeared in two more World Series.
Marquard’s career ended in 1925 with the Boston Braves with a record of 201-177, a 3.08 ERA and 1,593 strikeouts.
Marquard was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971. He passed away on June 1, 1980.