Rube Waddell 1876-1914
Louisville Colonels 1897, 1899Pittsburgh Pirates 1900-1901
Chicago Orphans 1901
Philadelphia Athletics 1902-1907
St. Louis Browns 1908-1910
Real Name: George Edward Waddell
HOF Facial Hair?: Didn’t need it
Career WAR: 61.0
Best Season: 1905 27-10 1.48 ERA (179 ERA+) 1.89 FIP 0.977 WHIP 287 K 9.2 WAR
Quote: Waddell had the “best combination of speed and curves” of any pitcher who played the game according to Connie Mack.
Known For: A larger-than-life figure who reportedly had the emotional and intellectual maturity of a small child. The top strikeout pitcher in an era when strikeouts were relatively rare. Many of his off-field exploits are legendary, even if some are slightly exaggerated.
The Bad: Was once suspended for a week for climbing in the stands to beat up a spectator.
Bad Impression: He was originally part of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1897, but was dismissed prior to making an appearance for the team after he sat by manager Patsy Donovan at a team meal. Apparently, Donovan was unimpressed with Waddell’s dinner conversation.
Unreliable: When Connie Mack signed Waddell with the A’s for the 1902 season, he sent two escorts to make ensure that Rube, whom Mack had managed in a semi-pro league a few years prior, made it successfully to Philadelphia.
Another Side: From his SABR Bio
The Rube also demonstrated his more compassionate side when Athletics’ centerfielder Danny Hoffman was knocked unconscious by a fastball to the temple. “Someone went for an ambulance, and the players crowded around in aimless bewilderment,” wrote Connie Mack. “Somebody said that Danny might not live until the doctor got there. Then the man they had called the playboy and clown went into action. Pushing everybody to one side, he gently placed Danny over his shoulder and actually ran across the field.” Rube flagged down a carriage, which carted the pair to the nearest hospital. Rube, still in uniform, sat at Hoffman’s bedside for most of the night, and held ice to Hoffman’s head.
Not a Bad Racket: Would often barter the ball he used in a famous duel with Cy Young for free drinks. Before long their were dozens of bartenders claiming to have the famous souvenir.
Did Not Happen: Rumors still persist that Wadell would frequently wander off the mound mid-game to chase fire trucks due to a fascination with fires. While he was a member of a volunteer fire brigade, there are no documented cases of him leaving a game to do so.
Probably Did Happen:
-In exhibition games Wadell was known to demand his fielders retire to the dugout for the final inning so he could strikeout the side.
-Married a woman after knowing her for three days. Over the course of the couple’s seven-year marriage, she often had him thrown in jail for “non-support”
-Played himself in a traveling theater company until he was he was let go due to a dispute over pay. The firing included the company dumping Waddell’s bags in an alley.
-The shoulder injury that caused his career to start downhill occurred in a fight with a teammate over a straw hat.
-Would, without notice, miss scheduled starts for reasons such as fishing or playing marbles with street urchins.
-Opponents would reportedly attempt to distract Waddell by holding up puppies or shiny objects.
Comments from voters:
“Rube Waddell is also goofier than a pet coon, if I’m thinking of the right guy.” – Spookymilk
“Spooky was right, Rube was goofier than a pet coon, and was possibly the most famous baseball player to non-baseball fans before Babe Ruth. Clinically, it looks like he may have had a developmental disorder. When he was 21 years-old, he had the intellectual maturity of a 7 year old. He was in and out of baseball a few times, was suspended multiple times for unruly behavior, including openly mocking his opponents. He was drunk a lot and had very public marriages and divorces…” – Beau