During the first World Series played in Cleveland, police were on the lookout for scalpers, and before Game 5, they found a most unlikely one in their dragnet.
Even though Indians owner Jim Dunn added 6,000 seats to League Park to accommodate crazed fans, ticket prices went well over face value for $6 for a box seat and $5.50, $4.40 and $3.30 for reserved seats. More than 3,000 fans came from Brooklyn without tickets, and secondhand prices went from $15 to $60, as the team hired 50 people to patrol any stores that might be scalping tickets. Dodgers outfielder Zack Wheat was actually approached by someone who offered to sell him four tickets for Game 4.
Early in the morning of Oct. 9, the day Game 5 of the World Series was to be played, four men robbed a room at the Hollenden Hotel at gunpoint. Cleveland police, which had been on high alert already, were starting to make arrests of suspected gamblers and scalpers. One of the 10 people arrested for scalping tickets was a Cleveland native that had just started the opener of the World Series: Rube Marquard.
A Cleveland detective said Marquard offered his tickets for a box for $350. Those who knew him rushed to his defense.
“This story about Rube Marquard scalping tickets is a lie,” said Dodgers Manager Wilbert Robinson.
“It’s all nonsense,” said Rube’s fiancée, Naomi Malone.
Police Chief Frank Smith released Marquard for Game 5, and planned to serve him with an arrest warrant after the game. Smith said he didn’t want his actions to have interfered with the Robins’ chance to win, and that keeping Marquard would be unsportsmanlike.
Marquard was one of those talented players who was right under the Indians’ nose. Richard Marquard played sandlot baseball on the West Side, at West 46th and Clark Avenue. His father Fred, an engineer for Fawick Airflex (later bought by Eaton), didn’t approve of his playing baseball, threatening to throw him out of the house for it, and at one point, the two went 10 years without speaking to each other. Rube eserved as a batboy for the Cleveland Naps, and knew the team’s namesake, Napoleon Lajoie. Marquard worked for Telling Ice Cream Company for $15 a week, and got an additional $10 for each game he pitched.
People begged team owner Charles Somers to sign Marquard, who tried unsuccessfully to latch on to the Waterloo team of the Iowa State League in 1906. Lajoie told Somers that Marquard might be a decent pitcher, but he was a defensive liability. In 1907, the Naps offered him a contract for $100 a month, which he turned down, saying, “I get that much from the ice cream company – and I get all the ice cream I want.” Marquard won 23 teams for the Canton in the American Association. The following year, he won 28 games for Indianapolis in the same circuit, and acquired his nickname, an homage to pitcher Rube Waddell. It wouldn’t be long before the major leagues beckoned.
In 1908, the Tigers took a look at Marquard, but manager Hughie Jennings shied away from his $12,000 price tag. “He may be worth $12,000,” Jennings said, “And again, he may fail to make good in the big league.” However, the Giants were willing to buy Marquard’s contract for $11,000, then the highest price paid for a minor leaguer. But Marquard didn’t instantly make a splash in the National League. It took him more than two years to win 10 games.
However, from 1911 to 1913, he put together three of the greatest years ever by a pitcher, winning 73 games as the Giants won three straight pennants. Christy Mathewson, his roommate with the Giants, taught him a screwball, and Marquard also worked with new coach Wilbert Robinson, a former teammate of Giants manager John McGraw in Baltimore.
Marquard won 19 straight decisions in 1912, and no-hit the Dodgers in 1915. Later that year, he engineered his sale to Brooklyn, to be reunited with Robinson. There, his career rejuvenated, and he was part of another pennant winner in 1916. He only won nine games for the Superbas in 1920, but the last one, on Sept. 26, brought the Dodgers within a game of clinching the National League. As an added bonus, it was against the Giants and John McGraw – the manager who was willing to let Marquard go to Brooklyn without a fight in 1915.
The Plain Dealer’s Henry Edwards, in noting the World Series preview, said Marquard “should have worn a Cleveland uniform these many years.”