George Napoleon Rucker
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 5' 11", Weight 190 lb.
- Debut April 15, 1907
- Final Game September 13, 1916
- Born September 30, 1884 in Crabapple, GA USA
- Died December 19, 1970 in Alpharetta, GA USA
On September 5, 1908, Nap Rucker pitched a no-hitter for the Brooklyn Superbas against the Boston Doves in the second game of a doubleheader. It was a dominant performance, as he struck out 14 batters and walked none, the only three Boston batters reaching base doing so as the result of errors. His game score of 101 that day is not only the highest of the Deadball Era, but it was not matched by anyone until Sandy Koufax in 1965, and it would only be topped when Kerry Wood had his 20-strikeout game in 1998.
Rucker was a mainstay of Brooklyn's pitching staffs for a decade, starting in 1907 when he went 15-13, 2.06 as a rookie. He won in double figures every season until 1913, with a high of 22 wins in 1911. Even in his final three seasons, when arm woes limited his appearances, he remained an effective pitcher when he was able to take the mound, going a combined 18-11 over these three partial seasons. He led the National League in starts, complete games and shutouts in 1910, but only finished at 17-18 as he did not get much run support. He is also usually credited with leading the league in innings pitched that year, but research by Retrosheet has shown that he was credited with complete inning on three occasions when he had not completed these, while Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants was deprived of one inning pitched by a clerical error; after these adjustments, Mathewson pitched 319 1/3 and Rucker 318, while the original "official" figures wrongly put him at 320 1/3 and Mathewson at 318 1/3.
In total, Nap had 5 seasons in which he finished below .500 in spite of an ERA below 3.00, and usually well below. In fact, his ERA+ was above 110 in each of his 10 seasons with the exception of 1914, when it was at 84. His final career appearance came in Game 4 of the 1916 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, when he pitched two scoreless innings in relief in a 6-2 loss. It was the only postseason appearance of his career.
He finished his ten-year career with a record of 134-134 in spite of an ERA of 2.42 and an ERA+ of 119.
- NL Complete Games Leader (1910)
- 2-time NL Shutouts Leader (1910 & 1912)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 5 (1907, 1908 & 1910-1912)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1911)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 7 (1907-1913)
- 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1908-1911)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (1909)