Historic Baseball

Historic Baseball

Bringing Baseball History To Center Field

Rufe Clarke’s pitching career was brief — just 11.1 innings over two seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Clarke finished his career with a 1-1 record and 3.97 earned run average.

Clarke has been a star pitcher at the University of South Carolina and he had been sought by a number of teams following his college career. He first signed with Baltimore of the International League on Dec. 23, 1920.

After pitching in the minors with Augusta of the South Atlantic League in 1923, Clarke got the chance to play in the major leagues. On July 5, 1923, the Tigers purchased the contracts of both Harry Smith and Clark with the conditions that the players would report to the Tigers at the end of the Sally season.

Clarke had pitched a no-hitter for Augusta that season, picking up a 9-0 win over Columbia on May 23. Clarke also led the South Atlantic League with a 2.90 ERA for the season.

His major league debut came with Detroit on Sept. 23, 1923, in a 14-4 victory over Chicago. Clarke faced four batters in the game, but was credited with the win in his debut.

He pitched in a total of five games for the Tigers in 1923, posting a 1-1 record in 6 innings pitched with a 4.50 ERA and two strikeouts.

He pitched for the Tigers to begin the 1924 season, pitching 5.1 innings in two games. His final game in the major leagues came on May 19, 1924, in a 9-1 loss to Boston. The game summary credited the wildness of Detroit’s pitchers, including Clarke, as a reason for the loss. Clarke pitched 4.1 innings in that game, allowing three hits and walking four batters.

His brother, Sumpter Clarke, born Oct. 18, 1897 in Savannah, Ga., played in 1920 for the Cubs and 1923-24 for the Indians. The outfielder hit .227 in 110 at-bats  with 11 RBI.

Sources:
“College Star Signs with Baltimore club”, Washington Post. Dec. 24, 1920. P. 12
“2 Sally League Pitchers go to Tigers for  $11,000”, Washington Post. July 6, 1923.  P 16
“Detroit Does it”, Los Angeles Times. Sept. 4, 1923. P III2