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Rube Currie

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George Reuben Currie (Black Snake, King)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 4", Weight 195 lb.

Rube Currie was a top Negro League pitcher of the early 1920s who appeared in all four Eastern Colored League-Negro National League editions of the Negro World Series. He was noted for his curveball and his control. His name was spelled Curry by contemporary sources but historians invariably refer to him as Currie.

Currie grew up playing alongside Newt Allen and Frank Duncan. He began his career with the 1919 Chicago Unions, a minor team. In 1920, he was 12-13 for the Kansas City Monarchs but his 122 strikeouts tied Sam Crawford for second in the Negro National League behind Bullet Joe Rogan. On September 27, he threw a 15-inning 1-1 tie against Dicta Johnson.

Currie spent the winter with the Los Angeles White Sox and was 12-4 with only 20 walks in 154 innings. He led the California Winter League in games pitched (18), complete games (17), wins and innings pitched. With Kansas City in 1921, Currie improved slightly to 14-11. He walked 41 in 189 innings and led the NNL with 30 games pitched.

Currie was 11-6 in 1922 in the Negro Leagues with a 5.30 RA. His two saves tied Rogan for the league lead and he also led in innings (173), starts (19) and hits allowed (187). In the winter season, he was 2-3 for the LA White Sox with a league-high 26 strikeouts and 52 innings pitched.

The tall curveball artist was 15-9 with 3 saves and a 3.24 RA in 1923. He also hit .242. He tied Andy Cooper and Huck Rile for second in the NNL in wins, one behind Rogan. His 119 strikeouts were second to Rogan, as were his 18 complete games. He tied Rogan and Bill Force for second in saves, behind Cooper. John Holway rates him as the best pitcher in the NNL that year.

In the winter of 1923-1924, Currie wnet to Cuba, where he was 8-2 for the legendary Santa Clara Leopards, considered arguably the best winter league team ever. Currie remained for the second season in Cuba that winter, going 2-3 for Santa Clara.

Back in the United States, Rube moved to the Hilldale Daisies and struggled to a 1-6 finish with a 5.43 ERA. He was better in the 1924 Negro World Series. In game four, he came out of the bullpen and beat Cliff Bell and his old Kansas City teammates, 4-3. In game eight, he lost 3-2 to Rogan when Biz Mackey, Judy Johnson and Louis Santop all made crucial defensive mistakes in the bottom of the 9th to blow a 2-0 lead. He was 1-1 with a 0.83 RA in the Series.

Currie was 7-8 in the 1924-1925 California Winter League. He did a far better job for Hilldale in 1925, going 13-2 with a 4.00 RA to finish 5th in the Eastern Colored League in both wins and RA. Holway ranks him as the best pitcher in the ECL that season. In the 1925 Negro World Series, he got the start in game one and beat Big Bill Drake 5-2 in 12 innings. Four games later, he was back to top Cliff Bell by a 2-1 margin. He was 2-0 with a 1.29 RA for the Series and John Holway ranks him as the top performer in the 1925 Series.

Rube returned to California for the winter but was just 5-4 for the Philadelphia Royal Giants. Currie began the 1926 season as a hold-out, eventually signing with the Chicago American Giants. He was 8-4 with a 2.44 RA, third in the NNL. He threw a no-hitter against the Dayton Marcos and walked none but lost a perfect game due to an error by his team. Currie was 2-0 with a 0.95 RA in the playoffs, again beating his old Monarch teammates. In the 1926 Negro World Series, he again got the call for game one. After 3 runs in 7 1/3 innings, he was relieved by Bill Foster in what wound up as a 3-3 tie. In game five, he lost a 7-5 contest. In game nine, he came back to beat the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants with Chicago on the verge of elimination. They went on to win the Series. Currie was 1-1 with a 5.06 RA.

Currie was 4-5 for Chicago in 1927, now fading away at age 28-29. He pitched in relief in game nine of the 1927 Negro World Series, which Chicago won to take home their second straight title. Moving to the Detroit Stars, Rube was 7-5 in 1928. In 1930, he was 2-1 for the Baltimore Black Sox. Two years later, he finished up back with the Monarchs, going 0-1.

Rube was among the all-time California Winter League leaders in games pitched (61, 5th), complete games (35, 5th), innings pitched (402, 4th), wins (26, 5th), strikeouts (162, 7th) and shutouts (4, tied for 6th with Foster and Pullman Porter). He had some unimpressive numbers against white major leaguers he faced regularly in the CWL - Buzz Arlett (5 for 8, 2 HR), Babe Herman (15 for 34) and Bob Meusel (8 for 25), with Irish Meusel going 3 for 15 and Jigger Statz 0 for 7.

Currie coached for the East in the 1936 East-West Game

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