Amos Rusie, the “Hoosier Thunderbolt” was one of the most feared pitchers of his day. He began his career when the pitcher was just 50 feet from home plate.
Known for his wildness, Rusie led the NL in walks 5 times. In part because of his lack of control, the pitching distance was moved from 50 feet in 1892 to today’s more familiar 60’6″ in 1893.
The change in distance did not adversely affect Rusie’s performance. In 1893 he won 33 games and led the league in complete games (50), shutouts (4), strikeouts (218), and walks (208).
The following season Rusie won the NL’s pitching Triple Crown, leading the league in wins (36), ERA (2.78), and strikeouts (195).
In 1897 he threw a fastball that hit future HoFer Hugh Jennings in the head. The beaning put Jennings’ life in jeopardy. After four days in a coma, Jennings woke up and recovered. The same season Rusie again led the NL in ERA.
The 1898 campaign was his final 20-win season. Stricken by arm problems and personal issues, Rusie sat out the next two seasons.
He came back for three appearances in 1901 before leaving the game for good.
Rusie passed away in 1942 in Seattle, Washington at age 71. A quarter of a century later the Veterans Committee elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1977.
This piece is a government postcard complete with a postmark from Seattle, Washington where Rusie resided in his final years.