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 Player Profile: Nap Rucker
Name: George Napoleon "Nap" Rucker
left-handed pitcher
Lived: 1884 - 1970
Career span: 1907 - 1916
Hall of Fame? no
Primary teams: Brooklyn Dodgers (Superbas), entire career
Best Year: 1911: 22 wins, 2.71 ERA, 190 strikeouts
Major awards: none
Rank on Greatest Players list: n/a

Player notes: Nap Rucker was a workhorse lefty for the Brooklyn Superbas in the early years of the 20th Century. Handicapped by the anemic Brooklyn offense of his era, he lost as many games as he won (134), but his quality as a pitcher is evident from the fact the he bettered the league average in ERA in all but one season of his career. He pitched in 21 1-0 games, winning 11 of them. All together, 38% of his victories were shutouts, second only to Ed Walsh in Major Leage history. He pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Doves on September 5, 1908, and came within one out of another in 1912. He was known as a Giant-killer, although he actually had a losing record against them (19-24). It should be noted, however, that the Giants fielded much better teams than the ones Rucker played on with Brooklyn.

Known as a hard thrower, Rucker was once matched in a speed pitching contest with the great Walter Johnson (Johnson won). He was also credited with developing one of the earliest versions of the knuckleball.

By all accounts a likable and popular player, Rucker was a favorite of Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets, who called him "one of the greatest men the game has ever produced- greatest in every way."

In retirement, Rucker returned to his native Georgia, where he was a successful businessman and also scouted for the Dodgers. He served as mayor of Roswell, Georgian for two years during the Depression. He died December 19, 1970 at the age of 86. Though not well-remembered today, Rucker was one of the great pitchers of the Deadball Era.


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