Ed Reulbach: Pioneering Jewish Baseball Star (to which I, Evander, add a *)

Baseball card of one of the century-ago stars (1905-17)

Baseball card of one of the century-ago stars (1905-17)

In the history of MLB, only one pitcher has thrown shutouts in both ends of a doubleheader. (For cricket fans and the many baseball fans too young to remember or know, the regularly scheduled doubleheader means two games in one afternoon; or the so-called Twi-night Doubleheader, of the late afternoon into the night. Each was a single-admission.)

Edward “Big Ed” Marvin Reulbach of the Chicago Cubs must be ranked with Sandy Koufax among the greatest Jewish* pitchers of all time. Reulbach’s stats are here. He was on three pennant winners, including the Cubs last in 1908. He played on the same teams as the legendary Mordecai (Three Finger) Brown, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance (“Tinkers to Evers to Chance” is as famous as “Who’s on First?” In a big-time aside, see below for the 1598 Shakespearean version of Abbott and Costello.)

Against the Brooklyn Superbas (later the Dodgers) on September 26, 1908, Reulbach hurled his two shutouts. This was part of a string of four consecutive shutouts that he pitched. (There are more than a few historic and even freaky aspects to the 1908 season. “Take Me out to the Ball Game” was introduced. One of the weird ones—to warm the cockles of any cricket-lover’s heart—occurred on August 4, between the Superbas and the St. Louis Cardinals: only one baseball was used in the game. Of course, it was the last season, till 2016, that the Chicago Cubs won a World Series.)

Between the N.L. and Federal League, Big Ed won 182 games, plus 2 in World Series, in his distinguished career. Few Jews played professional ball then. He is a borderline Hall of Famer, and perhaps some day he will be recognized on the rebound by the Pre-Integration Veterans Committee.

(Re: The Veterans Committee—It was superseded six months following [July 2016] this blog and now features revolving electorates of the four so-called Era Committees, viz.: Today’s Game [1988 to the present]; Modern Baseball [1970-87]; Golden Days [1950-69]; Early Baseball [19th century to 1949]. The Era Committees rotate memberships and meet in cycles. For example, Early Baseball considers inductees every 10 years. Based on currency, the other committees meet more frequently, spanning five- or two-year cycles. Of the 10 candidates considered by each committee, any player[s] receiving 75 percent of the respective committee-members votes is/are inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. If this all sounds a bit complicated…it is! The goal is fairness, yielding as little cronyism—which was a widely noted feature of the old Veterans Committee—as feasible.)

* (Early Feb. 2016, weeks after this blog was published, it came to our attention, via Ron Kaplan [see below], that there are questions regarding ER’s Judaic background and heritage: This emendation pursuant to the original source, one-time UPI correspondent to Israel [Newsweek and Time] Robert Slater, also as reported by RK. Nota: As related to baseball and cricket, the only real subjects of the ROTB project, it is never our intention to project or delve the spiritual, or even too deeply interior-cultural, lives of our blogs’ subjects—slippery slopes indeed.)


About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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4 Responses to Ed Reulbach: Pioneering Jewish Baseball Star (to which I, Evander, add a *)

  1. Ron Kaplan says:

    Sorry, but as one whose job it is to keep track of these things, I have to say that Reulbach is not Jewish. What was your source for this?

    • Former United Press International Jerusalem correspondent Robert Slater.

      • Ron Kaplan says:

        According to the editors of the Jewish Sports Review, “Reulbach was listed in the “Encyclopedia of Jews in Sports.” David Spaner is a writer from Vancouver, BC, who, quite a few years ago, wrote the chapter on Jewish baseball players for Total Baseball. He went up to Cooperstown to utilize the Hall’s resources and contacted the family members he could reach of any players listed in the Encyc of Jews in Sports who didn’t smell kosher. He eliminated quite a few, including Ruelbhach.”

      • We’ll add a question mark. Thanks for the info.

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