George Napoleon “Nap” Rucker
Born: September 30, 1884 - Crabapple, GA
Died: December 19, 1970 - Alpharetta, GA
MLB Pitching Record: 134–134
Brooklyn Superbas/Dodgers/Robins NL (September 30, 1884 - December 19, 1970)
During Nap Rucker’s 10 years in Brooklyn, his team’s name changed from the Superbas to the Dodgers back to the Superbas and then to the Robins. What did not change was Rucker’s ERA, which consistently hovered just over 2.00. Rucker was the quintessential hard-luck loser putting together records like 17–19 in 1908, 17–18 in 1910, and 18–21 in 1912. To put it mildly, he got little support from a predominantly weak Brooklyn bunch. Only in his final year of 1916 did Brooklyn reach the World Series, and of course, they lost in five games to the Red Sox.
Rucker’s 1908 campaign was highlighted by 199 strikeouts and a September no-hitter against the Boston Doves, where he fanned 14. In 1909 he topped that with 201 strikeouts, 16 of which came in one game vs. the Cardinals, a record that would stand for 24 years. His 17–18 mark in 1910 belied a great season, as Rucker led the National League in complete games, shutouts, and innings pitched. Rucker won 22 games in 1911, but lost 18 despite a solid 2.71 ERA. Fittingly, his final career record was 134–134.
Before joining Brooklyn, Rucker played on an Augusta, Georgia, Minor League team that featured future White Sox great Eddie Cicotte and a fellow Georgian teenager named Ty Cobb, Rucker’s roommate. One night, Rucker decided to take a bath before Cobb got home. When he arrived, the fuming Cobb, accustomed to being first at bathing and everything else, nearly killed the soap-soaked Rucker. The incident would be prophetic. Just like his time in Brooklyn, Nap Rucker was clean despite the chaos around him. In retirement, Rucker was a successful Georgia businessman and politician while also scouting for the Dodgers, and was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1967.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html