Friday, June 25, 2010

T206 Brooklyn Dodgers: Nap Rucker

One day after he had dropped out of school, Nap Rucker was working a job as apprentice printer in his home state of Georgia. While setting up some type he came across a headline that said, "$10,000 for pitching a Baseball." From there his mind was made up. He decided he would be a pitcher, and, by 1904, he was on his way as he began his professional life with the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association. The next year he played for the Augusta Tourist of the South Atlantic League- winning 40 games over two season. While in Augusta he roomed with Ty Cobb for a bit.

In 1906 he was drafted by Brooklyn and would pitch his first game for the borough in 1907. He instantly becoming their best hurler. Over his career he won 134 games, 38 by shutout, while recording a 2.42 ERA. Rucker's best year was in 1911 when he won 22 games. On September 5, 1908 he threw a no-hitter against the Boston Doves during the second game of a doubleheader. Nap Rucker would go on to spend his entire 10 year career with the Brooklyn Superbas, from 1907 to 1916.

Unfortunately, he would lose his fastball by 1913 and would hurt his arm in 1914. Rucker would have to get by on off speed stuff and a new pitch called the knuckleball. It is thought that he learned the knuckle from Eddie Cicotte, a teammate in Augusta and considered by many to be the pitches inventor. He retired after the 1916 season and went on to scout for the dodgers for over 15 years. Afterwords, Rucker became mayor of his hometown of Roswell, Georgia in 1935.
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