Great Tales of Rube In Milwaukee ‘A $20,000 Arm and Fifteen-Cent Head’ Chapter Fifteen: A Pitching Gem in the Rough
hen the call of the road and wood trilled within his veins, Rube forgot baseball, contracts, everything, and made for the nearest solitude, there to dabble with hook and line in the rippling stream. — Philadel-
terday it ended 3 to 2. It might have been more had it not been for the great work done by Waddell from the third to the ninth, during which time eight of the Bisons were forced to fan the air in a vain endeavor to connect with some of the fast left hander’s stock. But one man can’t win a game with such a team as the Buffaloes and especially after that man has had an off inning himself … Both teams settled down to the real work and from that until the ninth it was a one man’s game in which Waddell did himself proud. —
Rube Meets the Challenge Before leaving Punxsutawney, Connie Mack wired Milwaukee baseball club president Henry Killilea and informed him that he had secured the services of Rube Waddell and that the two were on their way back to the city. Mack and his new recruit departed Punxsutawney Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Milwaukee the next day [Thursday, July 26]. From the train station, they went straight to the ballpark. Mack did not hesitate in testing the talents of his new pitcher and placed Rube on the mound against Buffalo. In front of 800 fans, Rube came peddling down the road like an express train. Rube, due to the long train ride, or, perhaps, jittery in pitching his first game for Connie, . . . Then the inning began, “was off badly” in the first inning. He surrendered two quick and things happened. Rube runs, threw two wild pitches, but settled down and “treated had marvelous speed but he could not find the plate. He the Bisons to a row of ciphers” until the ninth, when Buffalo threw the ball the second he tallied one more run to win, 3-2. The Milwaukee baseball got it; he . . . walked men, and writer overlooked the loss and complimented the work of the fell all over himself trying to new pitcher in his article for the hometown newspaper. field bunts. The crowd stormed and railed and hissed. The Bisons pranced round the bases and yelled like Indians. “Don’t take him out . . . He’s not shown at all what’s in him.The blamed hayseed is
Five Straight for Buffalo
Out at the Lloyd street lot yesterday afternoon one man, Rube Waddell by name, who was recently added to the Brewers’ list of twirlers, constituted the whole strength of the team. Although there were eight other men on the field who wore Connie’s colors they might as well have been most anywhere else as their presence counted for nothing except errors.Yes-
Milwaukee Journal, July 27, 1900.
In his fiction for the Washington Herald, author Zane Grey related the events that occurred during Rube’s first game in Buffalo. He embellished the details, of course, but through his words, he painted a vivid scene of the day’s events for his readers. Here, in part, is his interpretation of Rube’s opening day performance:
American author Zane Grey played baseball for Penn.
——— 1. Zane Grey, an American author who is known for his best-selling adventure novels and stories, had aspirations of becoming a major leaguer. He attended the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship and graduated in 1896. Grey was an excellent pitcher with a superb curve ball. He carried a solid stick. While never reaching the major league, Grey went on to play minor league baseball with several teams, including the Newark, New Jersey Colts in 1898 and with the Orange Athletic Club for several years. As with Rube, his first and greatest passion was fishing. He wrote two baseball books, including the “Red Headed Outfield.” — source Wikipedia. By Wm. C. Anderson
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up in the air. He’s crazy. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, I tell sponsible for the trick. Rube held the visitors down to but two you, Con, he may be scared to death, but he’s dead in earnest.” hits and forcing eight of them back to the bench after they had “. . . you’re the captain,” [Connie] said, sharply. “Go after the fanned at three of his last ones. As was advertised, Rube was rube. Wake him up. Tell him he can’t pitch.” the whole game and aside from his excellent work on the slab “Here, Rube, get off the bench. Come here . . . Who ever told he also fielded his position in fine style … it was Rube that the you that you could pitch? Come now, you cross between a big crowd wanted to see.” — Milwaukee Journal, July 30, 1900. hayrack and a wagon Even though he was in tongue, get sore and do Milwaukee for only five something. Pitch if you can. weeks, Waddell was credShow us!” ited with leading the AmerHe stalked into the box, ican League’s list of unmindful of the hooting winning pitchers in 1900. crowd and grimly faced the Two of his wins for the first batter up for the then fourth-place Brewers Bisons. This time Rube was came in one day, and went deliberate. And where he down in history as one of had not swung before he the most remarkable pitchnow got his body arm into ing performances on full motion. The umpire record. called, “strike!” “Wow!” yelled the BufRube’s Great Work, falo coacher. Rube sped up Pitches 22 Innings the sidewheeler and [the In the first game of a batter] reached wide to doubleheader on Sunday, meet it and failed.The third August 19, and in front of was the lightning drop, over 10,000 fans, Rube straight over the plate. The pitched seventeen innings batter poked weakly at it. to defeat the first-place and Rube toed the rubber, talented Chicago White wrapped his long brown On August 19, in front of 10,000 fans, Rube was at his best, pitching 22 innings, and defeating Chicago twice, 3-2 and 1-0. fingers round the ball, Sox, 3-2. stepped out as he swung “Waddell looked so good in the first game,” as the popular and — zing! That inning he unloosed a few more kinks in his story was retold in many publications, “Mack decided to use arm and he tried some new balls upon the Bisons. But whathim again in the second game. Mack asked, ‘Rube, do you ever he used and wherever he put them, the result was the think you can work in the second game?’ ” same — they cut the plate and the Bisons were powerless. In his own inimitable style, Rube, hot and flushed, caught “Now you’re pitching some, Rube. Another strike! Get him his breath, grabbed a towel, mopped his face, and answered, a board!” — Zane Grey, The Rube, Washington Herald, May 9, 1915. “I can’t tell you; wait until I get warmed up, Connie!”
Mack learned that day that when his star twirler was on the mound, Rube liked nothing better than to go on pitching forever. He would do all the throwing there was to be done. Rube pitched five scoreless innings in the second game before the contest was called because of darkness. Rube’s performance that afternoon not only made nationwide headlines but earned him a three-day fishing vacation at Pewaukee Lake, courtesy of Manager Mack. The Chicago Daily Tribune gave the day’s story:
The Bisons tallied a run in the ninth to win, but the opening game loss did not deter Rube from giving Connue his best. Mack recognized, too, that he had found “a pitching gem in the rough,” and he used his big pitcher at every opportunity. Rube took an immediate liking to his new manager and met the challenge of pitching in the American League by winning ten games over the next five weeks. Nine of the victories came during the month of August. Rube would “throw off” his arm whenever called on to do so by Mack. The big lefthander was at his best, and newspapers across the country were following his pitching heroics: “Rube Waddell pitched another winning game for Milwaukee in the American League,” and “Rube was an enigma that opposing batters couldn’t solve as the Brewers won handily.” “Yesterday a second coat of the white [wash] was applied to [Cleveland], and this time it was Rube Waddell who was reBy Wm. C. Anderson
BREWERS WIN TWO GAMES Waddell Pitches All Afternoon in Marvelous Style
After a hand-to-hand combat which lasted from luncheon time until nearly sundown, the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the White Stockings twice yesterday, good and hard, and took sweet revenge for the two whitewashes the day before. 122
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But Comiskey’s battle-scarred warriors were not beaten until after they had put up a seventeen-inning fight in the first encounter, breaking all professional records for the season on extra innings; nor would they yield a point to the Brewers until their ranks had been depleted by injuries which necessitated another shakeup of the infield …
Town team had three different pitchers. Rube certainly has a great “wing” on him, and if he had a little more ballast would be the greatest man in the business. — Punxsutawney Spirit.
After the game, Rube grabbed his fishing rod and hurried off to his favorite fishing hole. The string of catches he brought home was even more substantial than his string of baseball victories. In Pittsburgh, the Pirates had moved into second place. Barney Dreyfuss arrived at his office and read of Rube’s brilliant 22-inning performance in the morning newspaper. He turned to Secretary Harry Pulliam, “Hey, we need that Waddell ourselves. He’s not helping us win the pennant by pitching a double header for Milwaukee. Wire Mack and tell him we want Rube back.”
Waddell Pitches Both Games.
Rube Waddell was the laurel wearer of the day, and his feat of pitching both games and allowing Comiskey’s men only two runs in the whole twenty-two innings captivated the fans so completely that he had the whole 10,000 of them rooting for him before it was over. Little short of marvelous was the way the erratic sou’ paw staved off defeat time and time again when the home players seemed to have victory within easy reach. No less than four times after they tied the score in the ninth did the White Stockings have a chance to win the game with any old thing in the shape of a hit, or even a hard grounder to the infield, and the same number of times they failed ignominiously in the face of those Chinese interrogation points which the Rube was firing at them… Buckley’s error in the seventeenth brought the finish. The veteran muffed a hard throw from Padden, giving Waldon a life, and he scored on a scratch triple by Anderson, Shearon falling down in his effort to get it. Chicago 000 010 001 000 000 00 — 2 Milwaukee 011 000 000 000 000 01 — 3 Second game Chicago 000 00 — 0 Milwaukee 000 10 — 1
Tales of Rube in Milwaukee The tales surrounding Rube’s stay in Milwaukee that summer received as much attention as did his wonders on the mound, and those yarns were never exhausted. Fishing, chasing fire engines, and on-field antics were all part of Rube’s strange habits and peculiar routine in Beer Town. Mack later recounted Rube’s exploits for the Chicago Examiner — and scores of other publications. Even though Mack was confused as to the exact details included in these legendary and often-told stories, Rube’s saga in Milwaukee would not be complete without his manager’s recollection of events. While Mack’s interpretation did not coincide with the actual games that took place in 1900, they are corrected here for accuracy. Here are Mack’s tales:
— Chicago Daily Tribune, August 20, 1900
Back in Punxsutawney, the hometown newspaper also made note of the game: Rube Waddell, the man with the “$20,000 arm and fifteen cent head,” who was recently on Punxsutawney’s pitching staff, but is now with Milwaukee, performed the most remarkable pitching feat on record last Sunday in Chicago. He pitched two games against Chicago the same afternoon, aggregating  innings, and won both. The first was a 17-inning game, in which 12 hits and 2 runs were made off his delivery, and the second a -inning game, in which the opposing team made one hit and no runs. The opposing While the Milwaukee Journal microfilm, detailing the events of Rube’s doubleheader win in Chicago, was illegible, the box scores remain to mark the achievement. See the Chicago Tribune’s account of the game above. By Wm. C. Anderson
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Rode Forty Miles on His Bicycle
the Syracuse (New York) Journal, October 31, 1911.
‘I’m going to strike the next three men out!’ I had Rube with me, twirling in Milwaukee.The Brewers were Mack recalled Rube’s “daring tomfoolery” on the mound: sure of a game every time big Rube was in the box, but he kept We were playing a second-rate team an exhibition game on me at my wits’ end to have him on the job when he was slated Sunday and Rube was tossing for us. Evidently he had a hard to pitch. night, for they kept stealing a bit now and then. But Rube manOne of his many hobbies at aged to retire the side this time was to fish in Lake each inning before a run Pewaukee. I had Rube down crossed the plate. to pitch a mighty important It came to the last half game against [Cleveland, Sunof the ninth inning with day, July 29]. When I got to the “bush” team at bat. the grounds they told me that The first man up lined one his Rubelets had left word at Rube’s head and got his that he had gone to Lake Pebase.With two strikes and waukee to fish for black bass, three balls on the next and that he would surely be man, Rube sent over a back in time to pitch, as he slow one, and the man had ridden to the fishing banged it down toward grounds on a bicycle. first for another safety. I I sat at the back gate of the was getting sore again. old Lloyd street grounds The next man up put one straining my eyes, looking over third and the bases down the road before the were full. game for my precious Rube. I I was just going to call waited awhile and then put Rube off the mound when the groundskeeper on the I saw him beckon to the fence as a lookout while I orinfield. The third baseman, dered another man to warm second baseman, first Rube dropped from sight on the other side of the fence. up. Just three minutes before baseman and shortstop the call of the game the lookall crowded around Rube, and then the exasperating cover out let out a whoop and informed me that Rube was coming yelled over to me on the bench: like an express train down the road. “Hey, Mr. Mack, notice I’ve called the infield around me as I dashed for the gate to cuss, but when I looked at that big witnesses? I’m going to strike the next three men out!” boy, I couldn’t help smiling. He was the biggest natural kid I ever And he did. With the bases full, no outs and the crowd yelling saw, and I had to say, “Why, hello, Rube! I had you down to like madmen for the scrub team, pitch today. How do you feel?” Rube whiffed the next three “Feel fine, Connie,” said men. It was as daring a piece of Rube, “and if you’ll give me tomfoolery as I ever saw on a diabout two minutes to warm amond. There’ll never be anup, I’ll be fine and dandy. Just other clown like Rube. — Chicago rode twenty miles from the Examiner, reprinted in the Syracuse Jourlake, and feel great.” nal, October 31, 1911. Rube was into his suit in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, and, ‘So long, fellows!’ tossing a half dozen balls to his As if fishing and calling in catcher, he yelled: “The whip is his infielders weren’t enough, great, Connie; bring up the Saints.” Rube, as Mac told, loved to Milwaukee’s Lloyd Street Grounds. And then he began one of chase fire engines, too. those wonderful pitching sessions that made his name a household word. I never saw We used to put Rube in centerfield when we weren’t pitchsuch masterful work. He shut out [Cleveland, 4-0] without a ing him. He never wanted to sit on the bench, and we had to man reaching third [Rube gave up a double to the catcher, Dighumor him or he would have stayed on the lot. He was a bully gins, and tossed a two-hitter]. I’ve often wondered what Rube fielder, too. would have done to those fellows had he not ridden forty miles One day we were having quite a battle with some team, and on a bike before starting to twirl. — Chicago Examiner, reprinted in Rube was covering centerfield for us. We were being hard 124 By Wm. C. Anderson © 2013, All Rights Reserved
pressed. With only one out, the other team filled the bases in the fifth inning and a brace of good batters were up. We had two strikes on the next man up, and then something happened. A black cloud of smoke appeared in the sky back of centerfield fence, and a little later a blaze. Then came the clash and clanking of fire bells, and the clatter of horses’ hoofs. I happened to look in the direction of the blaze. High upon the centerfield fence I saw Rube perched, looking at the blaze, silhouetted against the red glare of the conflagration. I let out a blast that nearly woke the dead. Rube heard me and looked around. He seemed undecided as to his next move, but he wasn’t long in making up his mind.With a graceful salute of his hand as if to say, “So long, fellows!” He dropped from sight on the other side of the fence, and was on his way to the fire, an event he loved better than anything else in the world. Of course I fined him, but what was the use? He had so little regard for money that taking it away from him in the form of fines wasn’t any punishment. He came back later, got into his street clothes and appeared at the hotel, the most unconcerned man in my troupe. Anybody who ever had anything to do with Rube was always on edge. While he had little regard for money he always wanted it to spend one way or another, and never thought of saving it. It was so much paper and ink to him. He knew it spelled fun and that was all he cared for. —
morning [behind] Pitcher [“Willie Bill” ]Reidy, who is famous for having little in stock except a slow “floater” which fools the sluggers. [Reidy struck out two batters and won 7-0.] Rube sat on the bench during that game and made remarks reflecting on Reidy’s pitching ability. “Any one can do that kind of pitching,” he said, contemptuously, “and I’ll just show you how easy it is this afternoon.” Bill Reidy, True to his word, Rube pitched the afMilwaukee Pitcher ternoon game without his usual speed, merely tossing the balls with a slow curve like Reidy’s. By luck and some good fielding he got away with the trick for several innings without a score against him. But Connie Mack was perspiring with apprehension. He begged Rube to use his speed and “mix ‘em up” a little, if nothing more. But Waddell was in one of his famous stubborn moods, and declined to listen to any advice or orders. “It’s a clinch,” said he. “What do I need of speed? I never knew what a slow ball pitcher I was before. Think of the years I will last at this gait.” Most managers would have pulled Waddell out of the box to save the The longest-serving manager in Major League game and, perhaps, Baseball history, Connie disciplined him for Mack holds records for insubordination. wins (3,731), losses (3,948), and games manThat would have aged (7,755). After Milwaubeen the end of kee, he managed the Rube’s connection Philadelphia Athletics for the club's first 50 seasons with that team. of play. Next day he would have been among the missing, and in a week or two he would have turned up in some 3x9 club. But that was not Mack’s way. In the [seventh] inning, the batters began to bang the ball hard [scoring one run], but some more lucky fielding prevented runs, and then Connie got in his work. Between innings he slid untouched over to the near-by bleachers and had a short conversation with a rooter who had been bellowing all through the game with a voice that could be heard in Kenosha. When Rube began to send in “dewdrops” again in the seventh, the man with the voice suddenly yelled: “Oh, you big stuff! You’ve lost your arm!” Waddell stopped in a dazed way, looked over toward the bleachers, and yelled back, “I’ll show you whether it’s gone!” Then, taking a hitch in his knickerbockers, he shot the ball
Chicago Examiner reprinted in the Syracuse Journal, October 31, 1911.
Sporting Life confirmed the story and Rube’s role as a Milwaukee firefigher in its September 1, 1900 edition: “The eccentric Rube Waddell’s latest stunt (is serving) as a fire figther. During a storm last week at Milwaukee, lightning struck the dairy barn of George Hodgson and in five minutes it was all in flames. When Rube reached the fire, he found the farmers standing idly around. Under Rube’s direction, he (saved the contents of the barn) and other things. Rube was . . . burned on one hand while saving a wagon.” Rube Tried a Slow Curve
[Details in this story, were corrected to reflect accuracy.] When Connie Mack had Rube Waddell with the Milwaukee club, the Brewers [defeated the Kansas City Blues] in the By Wm. C. Anderson
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across the plate and never let up during the [remainder of the game. Milwaukee winning in 12 innings, 2-1] — reprinted in nu-
- August 1, Detroit, 4-2 complete game, four-hitter; - August 5, Indianapolis, 5-1, complete game; Waddell contributed a triple and a home run. “To Rube belongs the honor of being the the first man to pump a fair ball over the fence this season and he did it in such a manner that it took quite a time for the fans to settle whether it went over right or not, but it was right and the Rube trotted around the bases with the first run of the day,” — Milwaukee Journal, August 6, 1900. - August 9, Minneapolis, 9-6, complete game, Rube surrendered four runs in the top half of the first inning; - August 12, Kansas City, 2-1, 12-inning complete game; - August 19, Chicago, 3-2, 17-inning complete game; - August 19, Chicago, 1-0, 5-inning complete game; - August 23, Minneapolis, 2-1, complete game; - August 27, Detroit, 9-1, complete game. “Only one of the Tigers was allowed to leave his footprint on the home plate . . . That happened in the first inning, and it was lucky for them. Rube Waddell was largely responsible for the way things were,” — Milwaukee Journal, August 28, 1900. - August 29, Detroit, 3-2, ten-inning complete game.
merous newspapers, including the Decatur (Illinois) Daily Review, April 23, 1928.
Rolls Up 10-3-1 Record Pitching with Milwaukee, Rube dominated the American League with a 10-3-1 record, throwing 12 complete games. When President Johnson of the American League released the baseball averages for the season, it boasted, “Waddell of Milwaukee heads the list of winning pitchers with an average of .750.” His accomplishments with Connie Mack’s team were even more impressive when considering that his three losses were all by one run, and all by the scores of 3-2. He dropped those closely-contested games to Buffalo [July 26], Minneapolis [August 8], and his last game of the season, Indianapolis [August 31]. In the loss against Minneapolis, “Rube did more talking to the bleachers than he did pitching to the batters, and as a result of that he became so badly twisted that he was called from the game,” the Milwaukee Journal explained of the loss. Commenting on Rube’s loss to Indianapolis in his last game of the season, the Journal pointed out that “the first thing to happen was Rube was coming in contact with a hot grounder which caught him on the ankle and nearly sent him to the bench, but he stuck to it, but to to the pain he was a little off form.” Rube and his teammates played to a twelve-inning tie game, 3-3, on August 17 against Chicago, after both teams scored in the final inning and darkness made further play impossible. “A disappointed crowd had to go away with one of the prettiest contests which has ever been seen here undecided,” the Chicago Daily Tribune commented the following day.
‘What Outsiders Say of Rube’ “Ever since Rube Waddell went to Milwaukee he has been doing fine work for Connie Mack, who, as a lion-tamer, has no equal.” — Chicago Journal, reprinted in Milwaukee Journal, August 28, 1900.
“Rube Waddell won another game yesterday. Since joining the Milwaukee club, Rube, by his own work, has hoisted Milwaukee into second place and made the team an ugly factor in the final struggle. At Pittsburgh, the Rube was a wild man, and nothing could be done to govern him. Since he went to Milwaukee he has won game after game, ptiching the finet ball in the land and has shown himself easy to handle, if his little ways are only given latitude.” — Exchange, reprinted in Milwaukee Journal, August 28, 1900.
Rube’s Ten Wins in Milwaukee “Waddell has been pitching wonderful ball for the Milwaukee team, winning almost every game he has participated in, holding his opponents down to three, four and five hits and striking out never less than a half dozen batsmen,” the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette printed in a breaking story on September 1, 1900. Rube’s ten victories in Milwaukee were: - July 29, Cleveland, 4-0 complete game, two-hitter;
By Wm. C. Anderson
Rube proved that he was “quite as much of a star in his new environment as he was in the Punxsutawney League,” the Punxsutawney Spirit reported in late August. “In writing to an acquaintance here, he said he could take the Punxsutawney club and best half of the clubs in the Western League.” Rube and his former Punxsutawney teammates would never get the chance, as another event-filled chapter in Rube’s life was about to be written. ———
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