Page 1

‘Oh, you darned Rube!’

The Beginning of a Legend Chapter Two: ‘Do I Git a Uniform?’

N

ever shall I forget my first glimpse of the twirler. He was far over six feet tall and as lean as a fence rail. He had a sunburned, sharp-featured face, wide, sloping shoulders, and arms enormously long. He was about as graceful and had about as much of a baseball walk as a crippled cow. “He’s a rube!” But when I had seen him throw one ball to his catcher, I grew as keen as a fox on a scent. That speed he had! He was a giant. To be sure, he was lean, rawboned as a horse, but powerful. — Zane

Pennsylvania oil-boom town of Petroleum Centre, Cornplanter Township, Venango County. There, in the heart of the flourishing Oil Creek valley and its gushing wells, Waddell pioneered the mightiest industry the world would ever know.2 By 1873, the production of oil in the valley declined. Most derricks along Oil Creek stopped producing. In 1875, with the discovery of oil in a prolific field to the north, another rush was on, and John Waddell, who “drills oil wells,” moved his family to Bradford, McKean County. On Friday the 13th of Grey, Washington Herald, Sunday, October 1876, in a little May 9, 1915. frame house on 27 Jackson Avenue, a son, George EdFollowing the Oil ward, was born. His parents On to Titusville, over the nicknamed him Eddie. fallen pines, by the Oil Employed as a gauger3 Creek Railway. Now [befor the National Transit ginning] to show themCompany, John Waddell’s selves are the premonitory work in the burgeoning oil symptoms of oil, in derricks industry required him to reto our right and left, in locate numerous times as every creek or gully down other oil fields were develwhich had run the suggesoped throughout western tive stream of water, which Pennsylvania. In the early was not ‘pure and unde1890s, Waddell settled his filed.’ — New York Times. family near the small Butler County community of Following the successful In the summer of 1895, Eddie Waddell played left field for West Sunbury. Prospect, where he worked drilling of Drake’s Well outIt was his first game in ‘fast company.’ in Standard Oil’s Muddy side of Titusville in 1859, Creek flats and later “was in charge of the district.” and spurred by the excitement of finding riches, farmer John Waddell ventured into the oil fields to earn a living for his famA Gaudy Drum Major ily.1 The details of Eddie Waddell’s early years are foggy, at best, With his wife, Mary, two children, and other family memobscured memories clouded by time. bers, John relocated from Hudson, New York — where his It cannot be disputed, however, that Eddie’s first ambition parents settled and worked a farm after immigrating from when a boy was to become a gaudy drum major. He loved to Scotland in the year of his birth, 1839 — to the northwestern ———

1. “John Waddell came here soon after the drilling of the Drake Well, and engaged in the oil business at Titusville, Pithole and Benninghoff Run.With him was his wife and two small babies. A son born in later years in Bradford became the famous big league baseball pitcher. John Waddell’s parents, George Waddell, also came to Titusville in those early years, and bought a farm on Hammond Run.” — Titusville (Pennsylvania) Herald, August 21, 1934. 2. Recorded in the 1870 Census: John Waddell (born in Scotland), 32, oil producer, and his family, residing in Cornplanter Township,Venango County, Oil City Post Office, on June 3, 1870. Living in his household were wife Mary A., 27, (housekeeper); three children, Jennie, 7, Harry 4, Leona, 1; Sarah Forbes, (housekeeper) 60, and John B. Forbes (oil well driller),19. Jennie and Harry were born in New York, while Leona was born in Pennsylvania. John Waddell owned no real estate, but his personal property was valued at $1,000. 3. “WADDELL JOHN, gauger, h 111 E Pine.” — Titusville Directory for 1884-5,Titusville, PA. 1884. “When a producer wishes to deliver oil from his tank, he notifies a gauger.The usual size of the tank is 250 barrels.The oil is then turned into the pipe line through a two-inch connection at the bottom of the tank by a man known in the oil country as a gauger. After the oil is run down to the connection, the gauger closes the stop at the bottom of the tank and gauges the amount left in the tank, he then gives the owner a stub or run ticket for the amount of feet and inches of oil run, the pipe line buys this oil at once, or issues a certificate. The oil thus received is treated the same as a deposit in a bank. Against it certificates are issued in lots of one thousand barrels each, at the request of the owner. It was in these that the oil exchanges dealt”. — The Oil-Well Driller, Charles Austin Whiteshot, 1905. By Wm. C. Anderson

6

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


‘Do

I

Git

a

swing a stick. He imagined it as a big brass baton. Eddie would fling it high into the air and catch it as it came tumbling down. While he never gave up the dream of leading Edmundson’s brass band down the center of Main Street in Prospect, at some point he embraced the idea of being a baseball player, as well. Eddie would use up hours each day tossing a ball. As with most young boys, when he wasn’t throwing a baseball, he was hurling stones at birds, fence posts, barns and, for that matter, anything else that would make a worthy target. During the days, he attended school and learned to read and write. On evenings and weekends, or when the opportunity presented itself, Eddie participated and excelled in athletics, particularly baseball. His physical stature enabled him to perform at a higher level than his teammates or opponents. Prospect’s hometown newspaper correspondent for the Butler Eagle, George P. Weigle, pointed out that Eddie “was a powerful young fellow and used to carry half the boys in town on his back.” Eddie worked with his father in the Butler County oil fields,4 one of several jobs that required intense physical exertion. John Waddell, in addition to his employment with the National Transit Company, was working a with his father, John, in the farm that he had rented to Eddie worked Butler County oil fields. supplement his family’s income.5 ‘Myriads of Blazing Molecules’ G. P. Weigle noted Eddie’s employment in his January 23, 1896 column, referring to the 19-year-old as a “boss ice cutter.” In a March edition, he commented, “Ed Waddell and  others are working on the gas line this week.” “Ed has muscles of brass and sinews of steel,” Weigle later recorded for perpetuity, “and keeps in condition by assisting his father at the pump station.”

Uniform?’

The scene of the oil boom excitement in the Oil Creek Valley.

Famed sports columnist Grantland Rice detailed Eddie’s workouts in the Muddy Creek oil flats. “Literally, Eddie made sparks fly before he deserted the manor. As a young husky, Waddell dressed drilling tools when he swung the forge hammer — that sledge — and myriads of blazing molecules filled the air. George Edward was famed for his strength in oil field work. Drill bits, wrenches, etc. are not toys. Most men need two hands to wield a wrench, but it was Eddie’s wont to corral one with his brawny right fin and perform all sorts of stuff.” Even though Eddie’s left arm would be-

Working on the gas line.

——— 4. Pennsylvania crude oil was discovered on the Dan Shanor Farm in the Muddy Creek Field of Butler County in 1890, approximately two miles northwest of Prospect Borough. Over 242 oil wells were drilled by 16 different owners, or leasers, on more than 1,500 acres of land, some of which are now beneath the waters of Lake Arthur. For over seven decades, the oil industry prospered there until the 1960s when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania built Moraine State Park. From the original wells, the crude oil was pumped into wooden tubs, located at each pumping site, and then transferred by pipelines to holding tanks of the National Transit Company. The crude oil was then transferred through another pipeline to a transfer station near Carbon Center, east of Butler, PA. From there the oil was sent to refineries at East Butler, Karns City, Cleveland, and through a four-inch pipeline to a refinery near Pittsburgh. 5. According to the Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863, Hudson, New York, John Waddell, 25, listed his occupation as “farmer.” The first mention of John Waddell’s farm in Prospect, which supplemented his income from the National Transit Company, appeared in a weekly column entitled “Prospect,” which appeared in the county seat’s newspaper, the Butler Eagle. Author and correspondent George Preston Weigle wrote for the January 2, 1896, issue, “Charles Kelly has been helping John Waddell, the Muddycreek gauger, who got hurt by walking on a cow which was lying in the stable. It would be hard to tell which one, Mr.Waddell or the cow, was the worst scared.” On May 7, 1896, it was noted, “Bate McCullough, of Plano, has been plowing John Waddell’s farm for two weeks past, as the latter intends to farm as well as gauge.” Again, on October 8, 1896, Weigle wrote, “John Waddell not only gauges oil tanks but raises fine pumpkins as well. He had one on display at Riddle’s store recently that weighed 100 pounds.” By Wm. C. Anderson

7

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


When

Rube

Waddell

Came

to

Town

come his ticket to fame, he would brandish instruments from the oil fields —as well as bashing home runs— with his right.

advice. Thereafter Waddell did not give his receivers any trouble. — The Blacksmiths Journal, January 1909.

A Wild Fastball Eddie painted circles on the barn doors and used them as targets to practice his pitching. His throwing habits improved his coordination and accuracy — qualities that were necessary and valuable to young ballplayers. He hurled a baseball at great velocity, and he discovered that he could split boards with his pitches. The first accounts of the young Waddell playing in organized baseball were in the summer of 1895 when, at the age of 18 years, he pitched for several Butler County teams, including the Bruin Oil Baseball Club and West Sunbury. Even then, the stories of his wild fastball and incredible strength circulated throughout the small towns in which he played.

Eau Claire Academy at Farmington Located 24 miles to the north of Prospect, in a pleasantly rolling valley in Venango Township, is the borough of Eau Claire. The town was first surveyed and laid out by John Black on the farm of John Rosenberry in June 1849. A convenient stop for local farmers to buy supplies, the village was originally and appropriately called Farmington. In 1900, the town was incorporated and officially adopted the name Eau Claire.6 The village was the home of Eau Claire Academy, a co-ed preparatory school.

First Games in ‘Fast Company’ W. L. (Bill) Sloan, former shortstop for the Eau Claire Academy baseball team, who played against Eddie laid down his only nickel for the chance to throw three When Waddell was the and with the young Wadbaseballs at a living man’s head. sensation of the western dell, recalled the afternoon Pennsylvania district ... it was his proud boast that no backstop of Eddie’s first games in “fast company.”    could hold him.The big lefthander would shoot the sphere over “In 1895, the Eau Claire Academy baseball team played two the plate with rifle-like speed, and his unfortunate receiver games at commencement exercises at West Sunbury [another would have many passed balls. small, rural Butler County community that was the home of It was not until the manager of the Butler team employed a West Sunbury Academy]. The teams veteran [catcher] that G. Edward overwere bitter rivals and loaded with stars. came this habit of trying to bore a hole [Eddie] played left field in the first through the man who handled his degame for West Sunbury.  livery. [Eddie] and his new receiver “In the second game of the series, warmed up and the backstop warned Waddell pitched for West Sunbury and him to pay some attention to signals. was freely hit. It was the first game he When the game started, the catcher ever pitched in fast company,” Sloan refused to stop the balls [Eddie] flung was quoted in an article that appeared at him, and the Butler manager cauyears later in the Pittsburgh Press. tioned the big fellow to take his backstop’s advice. ‘Prospect has a place on the map on account of Three Balls for a Nickel Waddell, in two innings, made the reRube’s pitching,’ G. P. Weigle, local newspaper In late September 1895, according to correspondent, wrote in the autumn of 1899. markable number of 12 wild pitches, his a popular story, the 18-year-old Wadcatcher allowing the balls to pass to the grandstand when [Eddie] would cross him on the signals. Finally dell journeyed with his father to the country fair. Free to wanWaddell took a tumble to himself and followed his backstop’s der, Eddie found the many amusements on the fairgrounds to ——— 6. Eau Claire, meaning “clear water” in French, and sharing the name of Farmington, was incorporated into a borough on December 5, 1900.The Eau Claire Academy was established in the fall of 1893 under Professor Gardner Robertson and Miss Chapin, professor of music. The academy building was erected in 1894. By Wm. C. Anderson

8

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


‘Do

I

Git

a

Uniform?’

his liking. He came upon the baseball game and laid down his only nickel for the chance to throw three balls at a living man’s head. After Eddie threw the first baseball, the living man quit his job. Off to Farmington, Eau Claire In the spring of 1896, Eddie enrolled in Eau Claire [Farmington] Academy. “Ed Waddell will soon go to Farmington, where he will attend the Academy and pitch ball for the local team,” Weigle wrote, informing the community of young In the spring of 1896, Rube Waddell pitched for Eau Claire Academy, a Butler County co-ed Waddell’s acceptance at the preparatory school. (first row, l. to r.) Professor Gardner Robertson, manager and right field; school.  Dean Hoffman, mascot; and H. H. Kerr, first base. (middle) S. R. Kerr, center field; Eddie Waddell, pitcher; W. L. (Bill) Sloan, shortstop; and Sam ‘Jinks’ Van Eman, catcher. “Back in those days, the acad(back) F. E. Sloan, left field, Louis Bosell, second base; and A. E. Sloan, captain and third base. emy team ‘signed’ star athletes. Marshall pitched for Grove City, and “even with a case of the Impressed by Waddell’s play, Eau Claire persuaded Waddell measles, made Eau Claire bite the dust.” to enroll ...,” Sloan explained in his account to the Pittsburgh The Commercial Gazette then noted that West Sunbury had Press. defeated Eau Claire and Eddie Waddell, 5 to 0. “Professor Gardner Robertson and A. E. Sloan, captain of In early May, Eddie made his first trip home from school, the baseball team, journeyed to Prospect, Pa., and signed Wadwhere he “spent a few days ... and entertained the boys with a dell with his father’s consent. He was given his tuition and history of his baseball exploits,” Weigle wrote. board and $2 a month,” Sloan recalled. Eddie was excited to be going to school and playing ball for the academy. Fails to Show in Ft. Wayne “Ed Waddell has already bought his baseball shoes, and as On the same weekend that he visited his home in Prospect, soon as the diamond is fit, the worms will respond to the Eddie consulted with his parents and made plans to journey to pounding,” Weigle noted on March 26. Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to play baseball for the summer. He signed The following week it was officially announced that Eddie a contract to play for Ft. Wayne in the Inter-State League that, was off to school: “Mrs. Waddell took her son, Edward, part in addition to Ft. Wayne, included teams from Wheeling, New way to Farmington one day this past week, where he will atCastle, Toledo, Washington, Jackson, Youngstown, and Sagitend the spring term of the academy.” naw. “At the academy, Waddell was taught the fine points of A new pitcher named Ed Waddell, of Eau Claire, Pa., has been pitching. He had natural blinding speed and he learned to signed by Manager [William] Meyer, and will report to Captain throw curve balls without tipping off the batters as to what to Tebeau while the Colts are at Wheeling. Waddell is said to be expect,” Sloan remembered. [Oil City teammate Orrin six feet tall and left handed and is said to be a good one. — Ft. Williams took credit for teaching Eddie how to throw a curve Wayne (Indiana) Gazette, May 14, 1896. when the two played together later that summer.] Disclosed in the scrapbook clippings presented by Sloan to With a little over a month’s experience tossing for a small, the Press, “The [Eau Claire] season was opened at Westminrural academy, the young pitcher was ready to make his league ster College. Waddell was opposed by Don McKim of Braddebut two weeks later. dock. McKim quit in the fourth inning with Eau Claire leading, “Fort Wayne is likely to try the new man, Waddell, to-day, 4 to 1, and was relieved by Harry Wilhelm, who held the Eau as Tebeau wishes to test him at once,” stated the Gazette on Claire boys in check. Westminster won in the tenth inning.” May 26. On May 4, Grove City opened its baseball season against For what was to become routine practice for Eddie, he negEau Claire. lected to appear when scheduled to pitch. “For Eau Claire, Waddell will pitch, and Sam Van Eman will “Waddell evidently failed to show up yesterday, but Mancatch,” the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette announced. Bill ager Tebeau expects to have a jewel in the box when he does By Wm. C. Anderson

9

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


When

Rube

Waddell

report,” the Ft. Wayne baseball writer relayed. A week later, the paper informed its readers, “Ed Waddell has been suspended. He failed to show up or to give any reason whatsoever for his neglect. Captain Tebeau has grown tired of Waddell’s tactics and yesterday suspended him. He is at Franklin, Pa.” The Ft. Wayne management instead “was forced to sign Powell. Waddell is a frost and Powell is a phenom.”

Came

to

Town

‘The man’s out; I crossed him out!’

It was the intense rivalry between two Pennsylvania oil-region teams that first brought Waddell into prominence. The names of these towns are Franklin and Oil City, two as lively cities for their size as to be found in the Keystone State, or any State, for that matter. The cities are only eight miles apart and the baseball rivalry, which existed between them for many years, broke up families, shattered lifelong friendships, and deA Race for Talent moralized business. Oil City In mid-May 1896, Weslawyers at this particular peley Baker, a traveling salesriod claimed it was impossiman from Franklin, ble to secure justice for their Pennsylvania, was stranded clients in the court at in Butler County. He went Franklin, the presiding judge to a ball game and found of which court was a Eddie Waddell on the Franklin man. This excitement and rimound for Eau Claire Acadvalry dated from the early emy. 1880s, when teams repreOne of the biggest senting the two towns played episodes in [Pennsylvania’s] a game for a wager of Oil Region baseball league $5,000.The oil exchange was history was that of the Iron running full blast in Oil City and Oil League along about at that time, money was the turn of the century. plentiful and in the hands of Teams from Warren, Ti‘Do I git a uniform?’ asked Eddie. ‘You bet,’ replied the traveling man. men who were as willing to tusville, Oil City, Franklin, wager it on a ball game as on Sharon and New Castle took part and there was a continual anything else. Franklin won the game that day with a battery esrace to ring in famous talent from other cities, including Pittspecially imported from New York City for the purpose, and burgh and Cleveland, and numerous points throughout Pennwho, on that day, were represented to be two farmer boys from sylvania, New York State and the East in general. Some of the Cooperstown, a little country hamlet situated ten miles from starts brought and made lasting impressions, others flourished Oil City. Great was the wrath of Oil City sports when they refor a day, a week or a few weeks —some even had to be paid alized they had been trimmed, for they scored only one run to leave. — Titusville (Pennsylvania) Herald, August 22, 1934. against a dozen for Franklin, and equally as great were the cries for vengeance. On the day he was to play for Fort Wayne, Eddie was reThe feud continued intermittently for a number of years, but cruited and agreed to pitch for the Venango County nine: broke out with greater virulence than ever in the year 1896. A The Franklin club has signed a pitching wonder by the name series of games [was] arranged and Oil City won the first [on of Waddell. He has been pitching for a college team [Eau Claire May 23, 13-4]. Franklin was in despair. Her pitchers had not fulAcademy] in Butler County, where he was discovered by W. W. filled expectations, and there was great wailing along the shores [Wesley] Baker and ‘Billy’ Alvord in their business travels. of French Creek. [Alvord, who was first baseman for the Franklin club, previously At this critical period, a Franklin traveling man [W. W. Baker, played with Cleveland in 1891 and 1893 when it was in the Nafor many years a traveling salesman for the wholesale grocery tional League.] The latter recommended him to Pat Tebeau, and firm of William Edwards & Co.], who was a stockholder in the he forwarded a contract to Waddell to play at Ft. Wayne, Ind., local nine and who drove across country and sold groceries to but friends advised him to go to Franklin first. — Franklin (Pennsmall country stores, one afternoon arrived at a small town in sylvania) Evening News, May 25, 1896. Butler County. At that place, he witnessed a game of ball between two county nines. One of the pitchers struck out his opAnd, as the story goes, on May 26, 1896 — based on firstponents with such regularity that it was really painful. It was hand accounts of those who were present that day and docuthen that the Franklin man thought a monstrous think. After the mented in numerous newspapers — in his first professional game, he approached the backwoods twirler and asked him if he appearance, Eddie Waddell earned the nickname “Rube.” would not like to pitch for a real team. By Wm. C. Anderson

10

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


‘Do

I

Git

a

“Do I git a uniform?” asked the pitcher. “You bet,” replied the traveling man. Without any more preliminaries, or asking where he was going, and without even packing his grip ... Waddell jumped into the rig and started for Franklin, where he arrived early in the forenoon of the next day. The first thing for which he inquired was a uniform. One was procured for him, and he wore it around the streets of the town and ate peanuts until 4 p.m., as happy as a kid with a hobbyhorse. — Washington Post,

Uniform?’ phenomenon when he first dug his toes into the dirt of the pitcher’s box. And Franklin came near losing him right then. As if in revenge for striking two of their players out, the third batter hit the spheroid a vicious swipe, which said spheroid landed in the middle of the forehead of the pitcher, which caused him to lie suddenly down and dream of other things than baseball for about five minutes. After coming to his senses he arose and turned three hand springs as an evidence of good faith. But fame was awaiting the pitcher-actor that day, and it came about by an exhibition of ball playing a la Butler County. Two Oil City men were out, and then, by reason of one of those unlucky streaks, which sometimes come at an unexpected moment, two scratch hits put two Oil City men on bases. — Washington Post, June 3, 1905.

June 3, 1905.

Based on information obtained from James Borland, Franklin newspaperman, baseball writer, and author of “Fifty Years of Baseball War Between Franklin and Oil City,” and Patrick D. Murphy, manager of the 1896 Franklin team, Eddie bummed a ride from With ... two men out, and Prospect to Franklin. two on bases, an Oil City “Murphy went uptown, player hit a weak one into and when Waddell was Waddell. He picked it up pointed out to him the manEddie threw the ball between the runner and the base, cleanly, and after hesitating a ‘The man’s out; I crossed him out.’ ager thought that he was moment threw the ball bebeing ‘joshed,’ ” the St. tween the runner and the base. The runners on the Oil City Louis Republic relayed about the incident several years later. team had scored, and the man who hit the ball went to third. “There he was, on the main corner of the town, gaping about The Franklin team was disgusted, the manager of the team was in open-mouthed wonderment, a big, awkward, red-faced in a rage, but Waddell only turned a handspring and ran like mad country lad, with ill-fitting clothes and a slouch hat pulled toward the grand stand. The manager demanded an explanadown over his head, as though it were the middle of winter. tion, shaking his fist at the same time in dangerous proximity to [Eddie] was very enthusiastic over the meeting with his future Waddell’s nose. Imagine the manager’s surprise and added anger manager. Arrangements for [Eddie’s] keeping were made by when Waddell snorted out, “The man’s out; I crossed him out.” the management. When passions were cooled it was learned that [Eddie] had “Murphy put him up in a hotel in the Third Ward that was opplayed the game as he had learned it in his native town of erated by Murphy’s father-in-law, James Quinn,” the Titusville Prospect, Pa., where “cross ball” was in vogue. — St. Louis Republic, August 26, 1903. Herald printed. “Soon after he arrived, Waddell was seized with a desire to unlimber his pitching wing and, having no ‘Oh, you darned Rube!’ baseball at the moment, decided to use stones. Waddell was in James Borland, who was present that day as official scorer a fair way to demolishing one end of the hotel livery barn when and to record the game for the Franklin newspaper, described Quinn rushed out and called a halt. Life around the hotel apthe same play. Wesley Baker also corroborated the story. pealed to Waddell and it was his practice to help the girls in the “It was in this game that George Edward Waddell was chriskitchen wash the dishes. And he was so well pleased with his tened ‘Rube’ by the crowd and in which he pulled off his fabaseball uniform that he slept in it.” mous ‘crossed-him-out’ stunt. It was toward the latter part of the game, when there were two out and a runner on third, that His penchant for wearing a uniform proved to be considerWaddell ‘crossed out’ the batter, who hit to him, between the able of an attraction and in spite of the disappointment [of dehome plate and first, the man on third scoring,” witnessed edfeat in the first game of the series] at the hands of Oil City, a itor Borland. good-sized crowd looked into the face of the Butler County By Wm. C. Anderson

11

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


When

Rube

Waddell

“After the next man was out and he came to the bench, where I was scoring, I asked: ‘Why did you throw the ball between the runner and first base?’ ” Borland wrote. “That’s the way they play down home, and it ought to go in Franklin, by gosh,” was Eddie’s answer, to the amazement of Borland.

Came

to

Town

ently did not favor one side more than the other, but acted as if his eyesight was defective,” the Oil City Blizzard’s Bowen observed. The Franklin Evening News commented on Rube’s inaugural performance, “Waddell, the Franklin club’s new man, pitched a fine game and, had he been properly caught and otherwise well supported, it is doubtful if the visitors would have got a man across the plate. The new pitcher furnished as much amusement as one wants in an afternoon.” “The attendance was light, and the players, with few exceptions, all acted as if they had been employed to make monkeys of themselves. To the disinterested spectators it looked at times as if it was a contest to see which club could make the most errors,” the witty Blizzard writer added. Oil City residents seemed to be easily amused, as supported by this ad, appearing next to the game report, about a strange attraction in Venango downtown Oil City: County,

It was then that Waddell first tested fame. Amid the general “ha ha” that reached his ears, a shrill, piping voice of a kid on the bleachers was heard to exclaim: “Oh, you darned Rube!” at which the crowd again howled, and “Rube” it has been ever since. “Rube” made good by striking out the next man, thereby winning the game for Franklin. But the nickname stuck to the Butler County boy with the tenacity of a porous plaster, with the exception that a plaster can be removed. — Washington Post, June 3, 1905.

The following week, the baseball writer and editor of the Oil City Blizzard, Frank W. Bowen,7 would be the first to refer to Eddie Waddell as “Reube.” Bowen, a brilliant writer who was known for his humor and witty compositions, made his newspaper one of the most widely quoted country dailies in the United States. Rube, too, would later give details of his version as to how he was nicknamed. “While today’s game was a comedy of errors, Franklin won from Oil City by superior stick work, the total amounting to 26 bases,” the Pittsburgh Dispatch said of Rube’s first pitching performance. Rube had given up 16 hits. Franklin won, 22 to 13. “Even in that early stage of Rube’s career he had trouble finding a catcher to hold his terrific speed,” the Titusville Herald recalled, commenting on catcher Kellogg’s performance behind the plate. The game lasted three hours and five minutes. “The game commenced at 4 o’clock and dragged its slow length along through three very tiresome hours, about half the time being devoted to ‘chewing the rag’ and disputing the umpire, who manifested a remarkable penchant for calling fair hits fouls, and converting hits into balls and vice versa. He appar-

Pennsylvania, 1896

The ‘What Is It?’ — Advertisement

Hundreds of people paid a visit to the “What Is It?” yesterday and they were all impressed with the conviction that this strange looking animal may well be termed a “What Is It?” It will be on exhibition a short time longer on Sycamore street, between the Trust Company Bank and the Oil Exchange. — Oil City Blizzard, May 28, 1896.

Rube Waddell — ‘The What Is It’ The two teams met again the following day, May 27, in Oil City. This time, Oil City beat the county seat nine, 24 to 10, and scored in every inning. “The Franklin aggregation went to pieces today, allowing the home team to score as they pleased,” the Pittsburgh Dispatch commented. Rube was one of three pitchers, the third, used by Franklin. Rube’s strange behavior on the ball diamond, perhaps to his credit, at least captured the attention of the Blizzard’s editor. Rube was seeing his name in the newspapers on a regular basis. Following the lead of the “What Is It?” advertisement, which

——— 7. Frank W. Bowen, Editor of the Oil City Blizzard: “Bowen's ‘Little Blizzards’ had a laugh in every line. If they stung transgressors by their sharp thrusts, the author didn't lie awake nights trying to load up with mean things. His humor was spontaneous and easy as rolling off a log.” — John J. McLaurin, Sketches in Crude Oil,1896. By Wm. C. Anderson

12

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


‘Do

I

Git

a

Uniform?’

appeared in the same day’s edition as the baseball game report, — pitching and hitting — in Franklin. the imaginative and entertaining newspaperman Bowen took adMurphy’s Franklin men took both games from Oil City — 9 vantage of an opportunity to call attention to the strange antics to 4 and 16 to 2. Rube pitched the rain-shortened, seven-inning of Franklin’s new pitcher. afternoon game in Franklin, holding Hecker’s Oil City Hitters “The game was commenced with Dunn in the box for to seven hits as “darkness and rain fell o’er O’Bail’s flats ...The Franklin. The Oil City boys experienced no difficulty in making baseball editor of THE BLIZZARD went fishing Saturday, and therefore was not among the eleven runs in the first three wreckage left on the ball innings, when he exchanged grounds by the southpaw cypositions with Seifert, who clone from Franklin,” the was touched up for eight rival editor of the Oil City more runs in the fourth and Derrick pointed out in his fifth innings, when he retired Monday, June 1, column. from the box and was reDisregarding the poke, placed by Waddell, the Bowen returned to work ‘What is It?’ from Butler,” Monday, picked up where the Oil City Blizzard’s he left off with his unusual Bowen editorialized. The style, and penned his historic baseball game summary apwrite-up for his Tuesday, peared with another story June 2, edition: promoting an “Oil City bicyclist without any arms.” “Reube” Waddell, the Bowen didn’t let up with dude pitcher of the Franklin his opportunistic and jourClub, made two home runs, nalistic good-natured jabs, a two-bagger and a single in either. “He [Rube] was more five trips at the bat in Satureffective than his predecesday’s game. Pretty work, sors and in the next three in“Reube.” nings Oil City scored only On June 2, 1896, the Blizzard’s baseball man and editor, Frank W. Bowen, was five runs, making a total of It was the first time the the first to use Eddie’s new nickname in a newspaper report twenty-four.” when he wrote the historic words: impulsive Eddie Waddell Rube, who started the “‘Reube’ Waddell, the dude pitcher of the Franklin Club ...” was referred to as “Reube,”8 game in right field, hit a or “Rube,” in newspaper reports. home run. Borland of the Franklin Evening News noted the next day, “The big farmer is all ‘I got my nickname in Franklin ...’ right,” and “A good catcher, shortstop and third Rube recounted his Memorial Day game in baseman will make the Franklin team all right.” the 1903 Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide. “Yes, and it would be just as well to get some His recollection of events, however, also inpitchers, outfielders, and a first and second cluded an incident and details from the first baseman,” the competing Blizzard’s well-turned game he pitched for Franklin. critic threw in the following day. “I got my nickname of ‘Rube’ ... in Franklin, Pa., in 1896, the first year I played professional ball. I

‘Reube,’ the Dude Pitcher had pitched a morning game at Oil City [Kellogg On Decoration Day, Saturday, May 30, spepitched the first game]. In the afternoon both cial trains were scheduled on the “Erie to acteams returned to Franklin for another game. The Oil City Blizzard editor and commodate those persons who wish to attend The man intending to pitch for us got drunk, so I baseball writer, the ball games,” the Oil City Blizzard promoted. went in again. In the second inning, with the score Frank W. Bowen, in 1896. “The game in this city will be called at 10 2 to 0 against us [Rube pitched the entire game, o’clock in the morning; the one at Franklin at 4 p.m.” and Franklin held a 8-0 lead before Oil City scored its first run], a line ball hit me in the forehead and knocked me unconscious for The Blizzard’s editor Bowen opted to spend a quiet holiday about five minutes. I was sore and insisted on pitching out the weekend angling for trout, rather than covering the play of his game. We beat them 16 to 2 and they did not get another man team. What he missed was Rube’s stormy exhibition of baseball ——— 8. rube: 1896, reub, from shortened form of masc. proper name Reuben (q.v.), which is attested from 1804 as a conventional type of name for a country man. — “Online Etymology Dictionary,” Douglas Harper, 2010. By Wm. C. Anderson

13

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


When

Rube

Waddell

to first.While I made two home runs, two double baggers [Rube had one double] and a single, that night the manager of the Oil City club met on the street and said: ‘You’re a regular robber; no one but a ‘rube’ could recover from an accident like that and finish the game.’ That fastened the nickname to me and it has stuck.”

to

Town

Following the loss to the Oilers, Borland, the Franklin editor, sarcastically reported, “Murphy’s men are showing some improvement. It took ten innings to down them yesterday.” The Wild Man from Butler Borough   Hecker’s Hitters pounded the Murphyites again on Wednesday, June 17, 15-8. As good as Waddell was, his talent was wasted, as there wasn’t a catcher on the team who could handle his fast ones. It is noted that Eddie was being referred to as “Rube,” or “Reube,” in newspaper reports on a regular basis. Bowen summed it up best, “In the seventh Oil City killed Chapman for five more runs, when he went to the bench, Rube Waddell, the wild man from Butler Borough, supplanting him. Waddell has great speed and a marked predilection for crossing the catcher. As a consequence none of the catchers like to catch him. Kirchartz became angry and allowed two or three men to get bases on passed balls. Manager Murphy called him down and from that time on gave Reube better support.” Since joining the team, Rube saw no fewer than a half-dozen catchers take their positions behind the plate in an attempt to catch his wild throws, including Kellogg, Robertson, Moyer, Hartswick, Russell, and Kirchartz. In addition, as would become customary throughout Waddell’s baseball career, the management wearied of its team’s poor play. Rube, too, wasn’t playing up to the standards expected of him at the time he joined the team, and, as a result, was losing the support of his manager. He had to be the center of attention, always in the limelight. Sometimes, he wasn’t in the light at all, and when it came time for Rube to pitch, he couldn’t be found. Later, when asked for an explanation, Rube would indifferently sum up the situation with one word: “Fishing.” “Waddell was more difficult to manage at that time than a bronco, and fines were the only means of discipline at the manager’s hands,” the St. Louis Republic noted. The Franklin paper criticized Rube, too: “Waddell is of no use at the bat. He had a chance to play for a sure base on balls yesterday, and said he didn’t want it,” instead swinging at the next pitch.

Thus, it came to pass — based on the several stories from Eddie’s first week of baseball in Franklin — that “Rube” roistered himself into the arena of fame. He took his place among baseball’s unforgettables on June 2, 1896. It was a great moment for the national game and a noteworthy day for the young baseball pitcher, too. The Oil City editor’s passage marked Rube’s entry into the ranks of famous people made illustrious by reasons of peculiar behavior. ‘Hitting at everything’ Through his first five games, Rube was blistering the ball at a .429 pace for the Venango County Seat nine. But, evidently, as the hometown baseball writer observed, Rube was acquiring his average by “main strength and awkwardness.” He refused to “wait ‘em out” and began “hitting at everything.” Even so, the sweep of the holiday doubleheader was rare for Franklin. Over the next two weeks, Oil City would dominate the series. On June 5, “Seifert was in the box for Franklin during the first five innings and was hit freely. Waddell was then substituted and proved more effective,” the Blizzard noted. Rube gave up three runs in the seventh and one in the eighth in the 15-4 loss. Franklin’s “fielding was ragged,” committing seven errors. “Franklin has two good left-hand pitchers [Waddell and Kellogg], but the trouble is finding a catcher who can hold them,” the Oil City newspaperman added. The Butler Wonder On June 11, Oil City took a five-games-to-three series lead over the Franklin Nursery boys. “Waddell, the Butler Wonder, started in to pitch for Franklin, but at the end of the third inning, after Oil City had scored four runs, he was replaced by Kellogg, who was hit about as freely as his predecessor,” Bowen published in the Blizzard.

Another Game for Eau Claire In his interview with the Pittsburgh Press, Bill Sloan stated, “Eau Claire wanted Rube ... after he joined Franklin to pitch an important game against Foxburg. Waddell struck out 16 men in that game. It was in this game that Waddell summoned all his outfielders to the bench for the first time [in an attempt to strike out opposing batters without fielders], a trick that later gained him considerable publicity. However, the outfielders refused to

It required ten innings to settle the argument. The Nursery boys, encouraged by their success in the eighth, gingered up in good shape and continued bumping the ball energetically. Waddell, Kirchartz, Clayton, Murdock and Allen made the circuit.This tied the score ... [but] in the tenth inning Oil City made three runs and won the game [13-10]. — Oil City Blizzard, June 12, 1896. By Wm. C. Anderson

Came

14

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


‘Do

I

Git

a

leave their positions.” The Pittsburgh Post officially recorded Rube’s pitching victory.

Uniform?’

pitching astonishing ball and satisfying his desire to do freakish acts,” the St. Louis Republic explained. “Waddell had disobeyed the rules of the club so often that at the season’s close, when he paid all his fines, he only had $20 coming to him for his work ... $12 of this money was invested for a suit of clothes for the twirler. The rest of his salary had been eaten up in fines.”

Sharp Contest at Foxburg

Foxburg and Eau Claire played a sharp game of ball at Foxburg on Saturday, resulting in a score of 10 to 14 in favor of Eau Claire. Waddell, the crack Franklin pitcher, was hit hard, and came near being knocked out of the business in the last two innings, but got excellent support which saved the game. Batteries - Foxburg, Healey, Jones and Moriarty; Eau Claire - Waddell and Van Eman. — Pittsburg Post,

Pitches Last Game for Franklin Rube played his last game with Franklin on Tuesday, June 30, and he was one of three pitchers — along with Allen and Kellogg — roughed up by Titusville in the 11-10 loss. Jack Nelson9 was their battery mate, joining the club in late June as a talented and much-needed catcher. “Nelson is not a heavy batter, but he is the best allaround catcher who ever played with a Franklin club,” Borland later commented.

June 22, 1896.

Rube returned to the Venango County Seat, and on June 25, “Tarentum soaked Franklin good and hard, using both pitchers [Seifert and Waddell] badly.” Franklin played ugly again, committing ten errors in the 16-5 loss. Pity the Poor Franklins. Franklin management Through his first five games, Rube was blistering the ball at a .429 pace, and It always aggravates those was knocking home runs into French Creek. While a lefty on the mound, Rube would no longer tolerate ‘Franklin fellers’ when we batted from the right side of the plate. Rube missing games, his take a game from their agshenanigans and poor pitching — even though his teammates gregation of misfits. The Franklin correspondent of the Pittsdid little in the field to support him — and according to burg10 papers snorts out this disgusted comment upon Franklin’s newspaperman Borland, “gave Waddell his walking Tuesday’s game. “Any old club that comes along these days can papers.” beat Franklin, owing to their stupid playing and poor batting. Franklin dropped two more, 7-2 and 8-6, but Rube, despite Titusville walked away with today’s contest.” — Titusville Morning the earlier news that he was released, was still in the lineup on Herald, July 2, 1896. June 29, relieving Allen in an 8-6 loss to Oil City. Manager Rube Strikes Out Ten for Runninger’s Athletes Murphy reconsidered, “evidently having changed his mind Rube lasted but one month with the Franklin Nursery team. about letting him go,” noted Borland. After all, Rube was in The Evening News reported on July 2 that “Honest John” debt to the team for his unpaid fines: Runninger’s Athletes, players from Franklin and Oil City, “Several times during the first season that Waddell pitched, were “picking up a team to play at Titusville on the 4th.” Runthe credit was on the club’s side of the ledger, the pitcher ninger, a lifelong and well-known baseball personality in owing the Franklin team money for letting him play, but WadFranklin, had pitched for the team during previous seasons. dell, little caring about the monetary end of the game, kept on ——— 9. “[Rube’s] catcher was John (Jack) Nelson of Bradford. Nelson used to have the Rube warm up for an hour or two before the game. Nelson still has a broken finger as a souvenir of his battery days with Waddell. Nelson still insists a pitcher greater than the Rube never lived.” — Bradford Era, February 19, 1936. Nelson went on to captain the St. Bonaventure College baseball team, and to play for the Buffalo and Newark teams. — Bradford Era, May 1, 1956. After his baseball career Nelson became a professional magician. Disregarding reports printed in other Waddell biographies, Nelson played no part in giving Eddie Waddell his nickname, “Rube,” as he joined the team several weeks after the name was firmly established in newspaper reports. 10. Spelling of “Pittsburgh”: Pittsburgh was named by General John Forbes in honor of Sir William Pitt. With the exception of the period from 1890 through 1911, Pittsburgh has officially ended in an 'h' since its founding in 1758. In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison established the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to restore order to the naming of cities, towns, and geographic locations throughout the U.S. One of the first codes established by the Board was that the final 'h' should be dropped from the names of all cities and towns ending in 'burgh.' Citizens of Pittsburgh, considering their town an obvious historical exception to this ruling, refused to give in to the Board's ruling and continued a campaign to keep the traditional spelling. In 1911, the Board finally relented and restored the 'h' to Pittsburgh. By Wm. C. Anderson

15

© 2013, All Rights Reserved


When

Rube

Waddell

“Runninger’s Athletes, who play here today, are a strong aggregation of ball players, principally from Franklin and Oil City. Their pitchers are Runninger, Bates, and Waddell; catcher, Berry,” reported the Titusville Morning Herald, July 4, 1896.

to

Town

“Less than 30 people attended yesterday’s game,” the Evening News published about the final victory. “Franklin baseball lovers should be ashamed of themselves for such a record.” Notwithstanding the victories, Manager Murphy decided to call it quits. “The people will not turn out so the club will have to go,” commented the Blizzard on Franklin’s misfortunes. “Just as Manager Murphy gets his ball team together, he runs up against the cold hard fact that the people are not going to games.” Borland informed his readers, “Butler now wants to play a three-game series with Franklin and Oil City for the oil region championship, but they’re twenty minutes late, as our team has gone the way we all finally have to go. Manager Murphy, having sunk a wad of his own money on the ball club, will wait upon those who subscribed and have not paid in and all others who wish to help out to get the members of the club to their homes.    “Not enough games with different clubs early in the season, and a failure to get the people enthused, is responsible for the death of the Franklin club at this time. Manager Murphy has worked hard for a winning team, and now that he has one, it seems too bad that it has to go.” ———

Runninger’s Athletes, with Waddell on the rubber, “Honest John” on second and the remainder of the team from Franklin with the exception of the catcher, played at Titusville on the afternoon of the 4th and were only defeated by the score of 10 to 8 and it required ten innings for the Titusvilles to accomplish that feat.Waddell struck out ten men. — Franklin Evening News, July 7, 1896.

Attendance Dwindles, Franklin Team Disbands   Through July 1, Franklin had played 19 games, losing 12, with only two wins coming at home. Franklin supporters were justifiably disgruntled and as a result, attendance dwindled. Without Rube in the lineup, Franklin won its next game, a 9-0 win over Oil City on July 1, a contest in which Murphy’s men took “awful revenge.” The Evening News quipped, “Things are looking up. We have won two straight.” Then mid-week, July 7, 8 and 9, Franklin (minus Waddell) put together three wins, beating Grove City, 12-2, and Youngstown Athletic Club, 20-13 and 9-1.

By Wm. C. Anderson

Came

16

© 2013, All Rights Reserved

CHAPTER 2  

‘Oh, you darned Rube!’The Beginning of a Legend Chapter Two: ‘Do I Git a Uniform?’

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you