Waddell, Foster, DeGroff
A few months ago I finally found the long-sought game (suspected by some, including me, to be mythical) in which Andrew Foster pitched against, and defeated, Rube Waddell, thus earning the right to be called “Rube” himself. This contest, with Foster hurling for the Cuban X-Giants and Waddell (under the pseudonym “Wilson”) for Nat Strong’s New York City semipro club, the Murray Hills, took place on August 2, 1903, at New York’s Olympia Field.
The other day John Thorn tipped me off about a sequel to this story (which he wrote about here). Six weeks after the Murray Hills game, the X-Giants were barnstorming in upstate New York. On September 21 (as John describes) they met the Kingston Colonials of the Hudson River League and edged them 3 to 2. Foster was on the mound for the X-Giants. His opponent, the Kingston pitcher, was one Art DeGroff, who went on to a long career as a minor league outfielder and made some appearances in the big leagues with the Cardinals in 1905 and 1906. “It may be coincidence,” John says, “but by the time [DeGroff] reached Rochester for the 1904 campaign, and forevermore thereafter, he too was known as ‘Rube’.”
So (perhaps) Foster beat Waddell to take the name Rube, then DeGroff came close to beating Foster to gain the nickname himself. Whatever the case with DeGroff, Waddell was the indisputable godfather of Rubes. Richard Marquard, the third in the trinity of baseball’s most successful Rubes, also supposedly got his nickname because he reminded a minor league sportswriter of Waddell.