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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
August 8, 1914: Defeated Cincinnati, 4-3, at the South End Grounds, Boston. Starters: Phil Douglas vs. Dick Rudolph. The Braves (50-46) are in fourth place, 6½ games out of first in the National League. (Baseball Library)
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Though he stood only 5'9.5" and weighed just 160 lbs., Dick Rudolph was a large component of George Stallings' "Big Three" that helped lead the 1914 Boston Braves to their miraculous pennant and World Series sweep…
Unlike the hard-throwing James and Tyler, Rudolph was a "pitching cutie" who relied on his great curveball and spectacular control. He also threw a spitball, but "about the best you could say for it was that it was wet," recalled his catcher Hank Gowdy.
…All he ever wanted to do was pitch in the big leagues. Late in the summer of 1905 [when barely 18] he mailed the following letter to [the] owner of the Cincinnati Reds:
Dear Sir, According to the league schedule your team will be in New York and Brooklyn the latter part of this month. I would like to have a chance to pitch against the Brooklyn team for your club to show my ability, as I would like to be with your team next year. Or if preferable against the New York National League team. It don't make any difference to me. All I want is a chance to show what I can do. And I think that now is as good a time as any, as I am sure you will not regret the favor.
Hoping that you can see your way clear to grant my wish, I beg to remain,
Yours truly, Richard Rudolph
[His letter was ignored, and he enrolled at Fordham University, making it to the big leagues five years later with the Giants. With the Braves, he became one of baseball's best and most durable pitchers, hurling more than 300 innings each season, 1914-16.] (SABR)