Marquard's mark remembered Great-grandson inspires exhibit

November 13, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

To all but baseball purists, Hall of Fame pitcher Richard "Rube" Marquard is a man with a great nickname but whose name rarely comes up when the greats of the sport are discussed.

"I used to go around to baseball conventions and card shows and ask, 'Do you know who Rube Marquard is?' Maybe one out of 100 people would say yes," said Richard Dagold, the pitcher's great-grandson.

Marquard won 201 games from 1908 through 1925 for four National League clubs, and was, with fellow Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, the anchor of a New York Giants pitching staff that won pennants in 1911, 1912 and 1913.

And during one magical period in 1912, from April 11 to July 3, Marquard took the mound every fourth day and won 19 straight decisions, a record that still stands.

Some baseball historians contend that Marquard should have been credited with a 20-game streak, since he got what would have been a win under current scoring rules for a relief appearance.

Armed with the knowledge of his great-grandfather's accomplishments, Dagold, a seventh-grader at Mayfield Woods Middle School in Columbia, took on the challenge of raising the public's awareness of Marquard's contributions to the game.

The payoff is a new exhibit at the Babe Ruth Museum that salutes Marquard, a contemporary of Ruth's who lived in Pikesville in his later years. Marquard died in 1980, nine years after he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Under the auspices of a gifted and talented class, Dagold and his teacher, Dick Wright, set out last year to quantify the value of Marquard's streak.

Richard began a school project called a "type three investigation," which involves solving a "real-world problem" through the creation of a product that is presented to an audience.

In Dagold's case, the product was a computer program that measures the difficulty of achieving a particular baseball record by dividing the nearest challenger to that record by the actual mark. For instance, Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak in 1978 is the closest anyone has come to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game streak in 1941.

By dividing Rose's streak by DiMaggio's, Richard determined that DiMaggio's record had been 79 percent challenged. By that rationale, the 16-game winning streaks of Walter Johnson, Smoky Joe Wood, Lefty Grove and Schoolboy Rowe challenged Marquard's record by 84 percent.

And, for all who were wondering, Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games streak of 2,130 has been 89 percent

challenged by Cal Ripken's string of 1,897 consecutive games.

By Dagold's reckoning, Marquard's mark is the second-hardest baseball record to break. Even if you don't buy his conclusion, it's hard to ignore his determination.

"Maybe 90 kids will start a project like this, but only 30 will get all the way through it," said Wright. "What's nice is that he stayed with it to follow it through. Hopefully, all through his life, when he identifies a problem, he'll use the same kind of process and identify a solution."

Michael Gibbons, executive director of the museum, also praised Dagold during the unveiling ceremony yesterday attended by Dagold's family and friends of Marquard.

Gibbons said: "Kids don't get to watch baseball the way we did. The fear is that they'll turn away from the game. What he has done is show that there is interest in the game among the youth. I'm sure he said: 'I'm a kid. I care about baseball.' Now other kids will see this and say, 'What did this kid do?'

Dagold's next long-term goal is to write the first full-scale biography of his great-grandfather, and if his persistence for that task is as strong as it was for the last one, the name of Rube Marquard may yet roll from the lips of youngsters everywhere.

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