Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Marquard spent 18 years in the majors and though he pitched for Brooklyn, Cincinnati and Boston of the National league he is known for his time with John McGraw’s New York Giants. From 1911-1913 he was arguably the best pitcher in the NL, along with teammate Christy Mathewson of course. In those three years he went, 24-7, 26-11, and 23-10. He was 73-28 in those three years. His career record was 201-177 and if you do the math the other 15 years he was 128-149. Not exactly a Hall of Fame career and many think he does not belong.
But there is something remarkable, perhaps magical, about those three years with Giants, something that defies common sense, and that was his lucky charm. It was not a lucky coin, nor a rabbit’s foot, nor horseshoe, but one Charlie Faust.
In the summer of 1911 Charlie walked onto the field in St. Louis where the Giants were warming up before a game with the Cardinals. He told John McGraw that a fortune teller said he would pitch the Giants to the pennant. To this day nobody knows if Charlie was a country rube, mentally challenged, or a bit loony, but he became, unknown to Charlie, the Giants mascot. He believed he was a pitcher. Often upset by his lack of contract, Charlie would occasionally leave the team in a funk or appear on the vaudeville stage regaling people with his impression of baseball players.
But the truth of the matter is that when Charlie was in the Giants uniform sitting on the bench or warming up in the bullpen, they won over 80% of their games and during one stretch it was over 90% and the biggest beneficiary was Rube Marquard. During that period, Marquard was 33-3 and two of those losses came when Charlie was absent.
Baseball players back then were highly superstitious and Marquard believed he pitched better when Charlie was there. Of course he was right, and that power of believe no doubt gave him confidence and with confidence anxiety alleviated; no tension, confident in victory, Rube loved Charlie’s presence.
Without those three great years Rube would not have made the Hall of Fame and without that stretch with Charlie he would not have had those three great years. As it was, Rube was not elected until 1979 when he was 92. He would die the next year.
But there is one additional note for those two players. Both Marquard and Faust were born on October 9th, Charlie in 1880 and Marquard in 1886. Could there be some sort of symbiotic karma with the two who shared a birthday that gave Rube his obvious luck? Faust died in 1915, Fort Steilacoom, Washington, in a sanatorium, from tuberculosis. In the 100th year of Faust’s birth year Marquard died. Maybe it was just in the numbers.
I wrote a fictional account of that year with Charlie. It is an e-Book on Amazon. You can find it here for 99 cents.