Baseball legend Rube Foster, a complete player
*On this date, we the recall the birth of Andrew "Rube" Foster in 1879. He was an African American baseball player, one of the most completely talented baseball players in Black baseball.
From Calvert, Texas. As a raw-talent rookie pitcher in 1902, Foster is credited with 51 victories. In 1903, pitching for the Cuban American Giants, he won four games in the play-off victory over the Philadelphia Giants. The next year, after jumping to the Philly team, Rube won two games in the three-game play-off victory over his former teammates.
Rube Foster's keen mind and ability to handle men naturally lent itself to achieving the next step. He became playing manager of the Leland Giants in 1907 and immediately they became the best team in black baseball. A dynasty was born three years later, when Chicago American Giants remained a dominant force until Foster's departure from baseball. With the Giants, he molded players to fit his "racehorse" style of play. Only the 1916 Indianapolis ABC's were able to break his monopoly in the West as the American Giants won all other recorded championships from 1910 through 1922.
After establishing the Black baseball team, Foster also organized the first black baseball league, the Negro National League, and oversaw it's development, assuring that it be maintained as a first-class entity. However, it was for his contributions to baseball as a manger that he is best remembered. Foster's Chicago American Giants were the most prominent team in the early years of the league. They traveled in a private Pullman car and barnstormed the nation, playing both exhibition and regular league games. At a time when there were fewer opportunities for blacks than today, Foster and his team held celebrity status in black America and were followed avidly through nationally circulated black newspapers.
Foster married Sarah Watts. He left baseball due to mental illness in 1926 and died in an Illinois asylum on December 9, 1930. At his well-attended, highly emotional funeral, he was eulogized as the "father of Negro baseball." He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, in acknowledgment of the role the Negro leagues played in American life before the integration of baseball and of his own role in baseball history. Black baseball's greatest manager, Rube Foster was truly a special person for the game.
The Negro Baseball Leagues A Photographic History
By Phil Dixon with Patrick J. Hannigan
Copyright 1992, Jed Clauss and Joanna Paulsen
Ameron House Publishing
Today in American History