Rube Marquard (Trading Card DB)

April 15, 1915: Rube Marquard’s no-hitter marks first step toward reconciling reputation after shocking offseason

This article was written by Andrew Harner

Rube Marquard (Trading Card DB)By 1914, New York Giants executives had accepted that inconsistent performances had become the norm for Rube Marquard, but they could not have predicted that he was about to make a decision that could have left him exiled to life as a baseball pariah and “certain to be hard ridden by the rooters” in the coming season.1

But even though he had put the controversy behind him before the 1915 season started, Marquard had no way of knowing what kind of reception awaited him when he first took the mound before a home crowd on April 15.

About 4½ months earlier, Marquard had “stirred up a hornets’ nest”2 by agreeing to a contract with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League. Reports indicate that Marquard sought out Tip-Tops management after the Giants refused to grant a $1,500 advance on his 1915 salary in early December.3 Marquard, who had lost 22 games for the Giants in 1914, received a $1,500 bonus from the Tip-Tops after signing an affidavit affirming he had no legally binding contractual obligation to the Giants – a claim that the team, the National League, and the Players’ Fraternity immediately rejected.4

“I have seen New York’s contract with Marquard,” added J. Conway Toole, a New York-based attorney often used by the NL and Giants. “It is irrefutable. If Marquard made an affidavit that he was under no contract obligations to the Giants and accepted $1,500, then I believe that under section 1390 of the Penal Code he is liable to criminal prosecution. He is open to indictment on a charge of grand larceny, punishable by the maximum of five years in state’s prison.”5

The news stormed through baseball at a time when the Federal League tried to wrestle marquee names away from the American and National Leagues, going into its second season.6 But as evidence mounted that the Giants had a signed contract from Marquard, Tip-Tops owner Robert B. Ward – a staunch opponent of contract jumping – wrote to Giants President Harry N. Hempstead that if his club’s claim to the 28-year-old hurler “can be substantiated to our satisfaction, the Federal League baseball club of Brooklyn is willing to consider with Mr. Marquard a cancellation of the contract he made with us.”7

The matter was not fully resolved until February 25, when Marquard joined his Giants teammates on the train for spring conditioning in Marlin Springs, Texas, and the Tip-Tops received a reimbursement of their $1,500 bonus payment.

With the brouhaha out of the way, Marquard could again focus on his pitching. He struggled throughout the spring, and manager John McGraw nearly relegated him to the second team on the exhibition circuit back to New York.8 By starting in the second game of the season, Marquard confronted reconciliation head-on – trying to win back support from the New York fan base because, as a New York Tribune report suggested, “his little spell of unpopularity will come to an abrupt ending if he can only win a few games in a row.”9

Throwing a no-hitter marked a solid first step.

Marquard brought cunning curves, blazing speed, and control so crisp that the New York Times suggested he “could have spun the ball over if the home plate was as small as a postage stamp.”10 He left the Polo Grounds slab with one of the finest starts of his career: a 2-0 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers, who had only three baserunners throughout the afternoon. Brooklyn’s hitters sent a mere three balls beyond the infield, routine flies to each of New York’s outfielders. No attendance figure was given, but reports indicated a “small and particularly enthusiastic” crowd.11

“There were no cheers for the Rube when he took the mound at the start,” the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union noted. “But at the end, he came near being mobbed by grateful fans. As he assisted in retiring the last Dodger in the ninth, the crowd surged out for the diamond.”12

Marquard’s only jam came in the seventh, when he issued a one-out walk to Zack Wheat and George Cutshaw reached on an error by shortstop Art Fletcher. Marquard settled in and induced an infield popup and a fly out to end the inning. Brooklyn’s only other baserunner was Casey Stengel, who walked in the second. Third baseman Hans Lobert made a pair of standout defensive plays – stopping a hard smash in the third inning, and scooping up a bunt and throwing to first on the run to record an out in the sixth.

Brooklyn’s Nap Rucker – himself the author of a no-hitter – opposed Marquard in a battle of southpaws and held the Giants to one hit through the first three innings. The Giants broke through in the fourth after Lobert singled, moved to second on Fletcher’s groundout, and scored when George Burns slashed a two-out double off the Ever-Ready safety razor advertisement on the right-field wall. New York added a run in the seventh when Marquard poked a two-out single to right to bring home Fred Merkle. The Giants left runners in scoring position in the fifth and seventh innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, Marquard retired Joe Schultz and Hy Myers to bring up Wheat. Marquard shook off two signals from catcher Jack Meyers after Wheat had worked him to a 2-and-2 count, but Marquard’s off-speed pitch fooled the 26-year-old, who hit a weak tapper back to the mound. Marquard threw to first for the final out.13

“Was there a thing [Marquard] could have done that would have restored him to the good graces of the fans so quickly as this no hit, shutout game?” asked the Standard-Union. “Hardly.”14

Coupled with a 16-3 win on Opening Day, the Giants had a 2-0 start for the first time since 1905, but the seven consecutive losses that followed previewed the rest of New York’s season more accurately. The Dodgers opened the campaign at 1-6, though Brooklyn eventually righted the ship.

The no-hitter added to Marquard’s collection of accomplishments, which included a 21-inning complete-game victory over the Pirates in 1914 and 19 straight victories to open the 1912 season. Fans hoped the no-hitter was a sign that Marquard would pitch more like he did while winning 73 games between 1911 and ’13. He instead split the difference, going 9-8 before McGraw grew tired of his inconsistencies and released him to the team he had no-hit.

“Marquard’s case is a point of discipline,” McGraw said on August 29 after refusing to grant the pitcher his outright release. “I am tired of having high salaried stars loaf on me, only to work their heads off for other managers as soon as they have been transferred.”15

The Giants initially assigned Marquard to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League on August 25 after he cleared waivers,16 but he refused the demotion and suggested he would rather retire than report to the minors. Meanwhile, Brooklyn sat only 2½ games out of first place. To be eligible for the World Series, a player had to be under contract by August 31. The day before the deadline, executives for the Giants and Dodgers huddled and worked out a $2,500 agreement to send Marquard to Brooklyn, even though the Dodgers had passed at that same price when the Giants first placed him on waivers.

“When I heard that Marquard had been let go to the minors, I immediately got busy,” said Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson, who also expressed enthusiasm about acquiring pitcher Larry Cheney from the Cubs the same day. “I had to have the Rube. He is still a great pitcher, as you will find out. They give me credit for having made the Rube, and now that he is supposed to be on the toboggan, I shall try to get him going right again.”17

Even with the exciting additions, the Dodgers never clawed back on top. Marquard picked up wins in his first two relief appearances, but overall he went 2-2 with a 6.20 ERA in six appearances to finish the campaign. Brooklyn faltered late in the season and closed the year in third place at 80-72, 10 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies. The Giants ended up 69-83 and at the bottom of the standings for the first time since 1902.

Marquard remained in Brooklyn through 1920, compiling a 56-48 record with a 2.58 ERA for the Dodgers. He pitched a pair of two-hit shutouts for the Dodgers, including one against the Giants on June 21, 1918. But Marquard also had an unceremonious end to his Brooklyn tenure when he was arrested before Game Four of the 1920 World Series for scalping tickets. A season with the Cincinnati Reds and four years with the Boston Braves18 ended his career in 1925 at age 38. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.



This article was fact-checked by Joseph Wancho and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted the,, and websites for pertinent material and box scores. He also used information obtained from news coverage by The Sporting News, Sporting Life, the New York Sun, the New York Tribune, the New York Times, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union, and the Brooklyn Daily Times.

Photo credit: Rube Marquard, Trading Card Database.



1 “Wards Return Rube Marquard to Giants,” New York Tribune, December 10, 1914: 10.

2 “Rube Marquard, Who Has Stirred Up a Hornets’ Nest,” Brooklyn Citizen, December 5, 1914: 4.

3 Joe Vila, “Rube Marquard’s Stunt Gets Him in Bad With All Hands,” The Sporting News, December 10, 1914: 1.

4 According to New York Giants secretary John B. Foster: “We are not worrying. Marquard is bound to us under two contracts for the seasons of 1915 and 1916, and we have an option on his services for 1917. The first contract is his regular baseball contract. It contains no ten-day clause provision for release. We also hold another contract with Marquard, and this is a personal contract between the National Exhibition Company and Marquard.” NL secretary John Heydler agreed, adding: “If contracts are worth anything Marquard must play with the Giants. I have here in the office a contract, and it covers two more years. It has none of the features which rendered the old style contracts invalid.” David L. Fultz, president of the Players’ Fraternity, released scathing remarks on the situation. “Information has reached me that Rube Marquard, in spite of the fact that he is under a binding contract with the New York club for the season of 1915, has signed with the Brooklyn Federal League club. The report is hard to believe, as I feel sure the Brooklyn people would not knowingly sign a player under these circumstances. If Marquard has done this, he will unquestionably be expelled from the Baseball Players’ Fraternity, as the directors absolutely will not countenance any such disregard of their obligations by its members.” Heywood Broun, “Rube Marquard Jumps to the Brooklyn Feds,” New York Tribune, December 5, 1914: 14.

5 “Rube Marquard, Though Under Contract, Jumps to Federals,” New York Sun, December 5, 1914: 12.

6 Around the same time Marquard agreed to terms with the Tip-Tops, Washington Senators ace Walter Johnson considered a move to the Chicago Whales. The Federal League successfully signed notable big-league stars Charles Bender and Eddie Plank.

7 Ward’s letter also included a stinging reminder that the Giants had essentially used a technicality in rendering the services of Bill Ritter, who had signed a contract with the Tip-Tops in 1914 without parental consent. By securing Ritter’s father’s signature, the Giants gained his services. The letter, however, did not include details about Jim Bluejacket, a pitcher who jumped his Giants contract to pitch for the Tip-Tops in 1914. Heywood Broun, “Wards Return Rube Marquard to Giants,” New York Tribune, December 10, 1914: 10.

8 “Johnny Murray Placed on Giants’ First Team,” Elmira (New York) Star-Gazette, March 26, 1915: 8.

9 “Giants Off for the Sunny South,” New York Tribune, February 26, 1915: 10.

10 “Marquard Pitches No-Hit, No-Run Game,” New York Times, April 16, 1915: 11.

11 Rice, “Rucker Up Against Real Hard Luck Experience,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 16, 1915: 20.

12 “Notes of the Game,” Brooklyn Daily Standard Union, April 16, 1915: 14.

13 Heywood Broun, “Giants Win Again With Marquard Pitching a No-Hit Game Against Brooklyn,” New York Tribune, April 16, 1915: 12.

14 “Superbas Out to Avenge Marquard’s No-Hit Game,” Brooklyn Daily Standard-Union, April 16, 1915: 14.

15 “Marquard May Put On Dodger Uniform,” Buffalo Commercial, August 30, 1915: 10.

16 The Giants would have received the future rights to pitcher Fred Herbert after assigning Marquard to Toronto had Rube reported. Instead, McGraw later bought Herbert’s services, and the youngster pitched two games for the Giants at the end of September – his only major-league appearances.

17 “Marquard Improves Robins’ Pennant Chances Greatly,” Brooklyn Daily Times, August 31, 1915: 8.

18 One of Marquard’s top highlights with the Braves was a 13-inning, 1-0 shutout against Brooklyn on May 4, 1923.

Additional Stats

New York Giants 2
Brooklyn Dodgers 0

Polo Grounds
New York, NY


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