Rue Ewers played good football for Port Adelaide and Norwood, but is mainly remembered as the foremost of five brothers who pioneered baseball in South Australia.
A wiry natural athlete, he developed rippling shoulder muscles which enabled him to pitch a baseball at frightening speed and throw a cricket ball nearly 130 yards. He was a champion runner, equally adept at sprinting, hurdling and long-distance events, as well as a brilliant swimmer and a smart boxer who gave up the sport because, in his own words, "I nearly killed a chap in one bout."
Rue was born at Beaumont on 26 May 1867. Because of his build and athleticism - he was about 171 cm tall and looked lighter than his 70 kg - he was a speedy wingman who also played as a forward flanker or pocket. He had his moments as a wingman for Port in 1889 when Norwood won what was effectively the first grand final, 7.4 to 5.9.
He switched to Norwood in 1892. In his last game, at the end of the 1893 season, he kicked the first goal from the forward pocket, paving the way for an 8.7 to 5.6 victory over South Adelaide, which had already sewn up the premiership. With his intuitive timing, he once won a drop-kicking competition.
Rue and his brothers Ern, Ted, Fred and Alex caught the baseball bug when the all-American side visited Australia in 1889. Rue was brilliant in all aspects of the game. Pitching was his forte as he played in every intercolonial and interstate match from 1889 to 1913. He was a key member of the ill-fated touring team which in 1897 won 10 out of 25 games in the US and defeated England at Crystal Palace, London, before running out of money and having to beg for tickets home.
The Ewers boys were so good that they were made to play in separate teams so that no one club would dominate the competition. Three of the brothers were still playing for SA in 1910 - Fred and Ted as pitchers and Rue as catcher.
Tragedy struck the popular Rue in 1930 when his son Claude, who, pitching for East Torrens, had struck out 26 of the possible 27 Millswood batters in a game the year before, died at the age of 30 after he was crushed by a falling transformer he was helping to install at Nuriootpa.
Rue retired after 52 years with the Lands Department. He was 73 when he died suddenly at Gilberton on 16 November 1940. He was survived by his widow Clara (née Jarvis) and daughter Brina. He is buried in the North Road Cemetery, Medindie
P Robins June 2018