Once a ‘Rube,’ Always a ‘Rube’
‘You Couldn’t Manage Rube for a Week’ Chapter Seventeen: ‘A Bunch of Dubs Behind Me’
’ll tell you about the Rube. He had terrific speed. And his curve was even better than his speed. The Rube had the fastest and the deepest curve I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen great hitters miss Rube’s curve ball by more than a foot. I honestly believe the Rube’s curve often broke at least two feet. But what is more important, it was a fast curve, one that came up in a hurry and then shot down like lightning. Now, I’m not saying Waddell was the greatest of all time. I’m saying that he could have been and should have been, for the simplest reason that he had more natural stuff than any other pitcher I’ve ever seen. I mean by this that he had the best combination of what you are talking about — speed and curves . . . ” — Connie Mack.
touched McGann about as quick as any one could on the throw, but the big first baseman was there too soon. Waddell remained in the half-wild state up to the eighth inning. — St. Louis Republic, April 24, 1901
It was the same story in Pittsburgh when the Pirates hosted the Orphans [also referred to as the Remnants]. On May 1, Chicago rocked Rube for four runs in the fifth inning. “Rube . . . started in to pitch . . . but after Chicago had made three hits and he had made a wild pitch and given four bases on balls, forcing in two runs,” Clarke yanked him from the game. After two dismal starts, Rube had given up 12 runs, but, more importantly, he failed to curb his wayward ways. Rube Released Pittsburgh’s managers to Chicago and players, too, had no During the summer of confidence in their big 1900, Rube Waddell pitcher, as there was no jumped from one team to telling what he was liable to another and traded in his do next. uniform four times. “The Pittsburgh papers Rube opened the 1901 say he should be tagged and National League season shipped back to Butler,” the with the Pirates and pitched Butler Eagle passed on to his first game on April 23 Rube came into Dryefuss’ office somewhat peeved and demanded half of its hometown readers. the sale price. Dreyfuss gave him a stogie and told him to ‘take it all.’ against St. Louis when he Clarke saw that another “went wrong.” Rube gave season with Rube would not be worth the aggravation that up five runs and the Pirates lost, 10-4. came with him.1 Rube Waddell went all to pieces in the seventh inning, after With a poor start to the season and his team in sixth place, having held the St. Louisians to only three hits . . . Waddell Clarke was anxious to rid himself of his troublesome pitcher went up in the air like an overcharged balloon. Wallace hit a — for the final time. The manager went to team owner Bargrounder to the tall Pirates, and he proceeded to fumble it. ney Dreyfuss, “Sell him, release him, drop him off the Then he got a regular Nouroulah grip on it and sent it about Monongahela Bridge; do anything with him you like, so long a mile over Chief Zimmer’s head in a wild effort to catch as you get him off my ball team.” Donovan at the plate. The St. Louis manager had only to trot in, but the real fun came when Waddell tried to make up for his skyrocket throw by going to the rubber to catch McGann on his run home. Waddell yanked off his cap for all the world like an excited kid on the lots, and yelled like mad while waiting for the return. To his credit it should be said that he
Dreyfuss: ‘We sold Rube for a stogie . . . ’ Dreyfuss granted Clarke his wish and Rube was released on May 3, his rights peddled to the Chicago Orphans of the American League. “The terms of the deal were not made public, but it is known
——— 1. Clarke served as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates through the end of the 1915 season, winning pennants in 1901, 1902 and 1903. In 1909 Clarke gave the city of Pittsburgh its first World Championship. The Pirates and Honus Wagner defeated Detroit and Ty Cobb in seven games. It was in 1909 that the historic Forbes Field was opened. Clarke died in 1960. In 1936, Clarke named Rube Waddell to his all-time major league club. Clarke was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945. Barney Dreyfuss was inducted into the Hall in 2008. By Wm. C. Anderson
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that good money was paid by Loftus for the release of the eccentary has evidently tired of his job. The Chicago management will tric twirler,” the Chicago Daily News informed its readers. have its hands full with the festive Rube.” But, as a legendary story would have it, “We sold Rube WadRube, unhappy with his release, watched the game as a specdell to Chicago for a stogie — and stogies were then selling four tator that day in Pittsburgh. for a nickel,” Dreyfuss later explained to the Milwaukee Journal. Waddell Gunning “Rube came into my office somewhat peeved and demanded Pittsburg, Pa., May 3 — Chicago was beaten this afternoon half of the sale price. I gave him the stogie and told him to take it in the longest and most tiresome game of the season… all. At the door Rube was met by an officer “Rube” Waddell, Loftus’s new pitcher, with an attachment on his money. It was took in the game from the grandstand. He $10 owed by Rube to a tailor.” had a revolver, which he took pride in dis“Here,” Dreyfuss declared Rube said, playing. Some of the Pirates were biting off the end of a stogie and handing it alarmed, for Rube had threatened to “get over, “this is your share.” even” with more than one man before Tom Loftus signed his new pitcher the leaving Pittsburg. — Chicago Daily Tribune, May same day. In spite of Boston offering the 4, 1901. Pirates pitcher $3,500 for the remainder of the season, Chicago was only willing to Following the game, the two teams pay him $2,400. Loftus was determined to departed for the Windy City for another sign Rube. He later recounted the negotiafour-game series. tion process. “I’ll tell you, Tom,” said Eddie, “I’d lots Chicago Welcomes Rube rather play with you than Boston, but they Waddell will be a great drawing card for the West Side team, and will also be a offer me $1,100 more.” thorn in the sides of the genial Hart. Not “Don’t let a little thing like that stop you since the days of Mike Kelly has there from joining a good ball club with a lot of been an odder character in baseball than good fellows,” Loftus responded, referring Edward Waddell, or any one more diffito his Chicago Orphans. “You sign the cult to handle. Manager after manager contract and when we get to New York, I’ll has tried to control the big “Rube,” only buy you the best Panama hat in town.” Rube warms up before game in Chicago. to abandon the effort in despair, and Fred Rube, perfectly satisfied, signed the Clarke must have been almost distracted by the giant’s antics contract. Boston wanted him, but Chicago had him. The Chicago before he set him free. Whether Loftus can control him will, Daily News reported, “Manager Tom Loftus announced this of course, be an enigma till the attempt is made. Tom thinks morning that he had signed Rube Waddell, the noted southpaw of he can take care of the white elephant, but many other manthe Pirates.” agers have thought the same thing, only to find themselves When President Freedman of the New York baseball club combeautifully deceived.Waddell is indeed a curious character. He plained because the New Yorkers weren’t given a chance to get is about 25 years old, a Pennsylvania rustic, and of simply giRube, Dreyfuss best summed up his experiences with Rube, “You gantic stature, while his physical strength is almost beyond concouldn’t manage Rube for ception. Waddell is one of the most powerful men in the world a week and he wouldn’t be today. He can perform feats of muscle which would make prohere [in New York] for five fessional strong men green with envy, and his courage is as days.” great as his strength. He would fight Jim Jeffries in a minute, The Brooklyn Daily and at barroom rules the Rube would make the champion turn Eagle defended Dreyfuss’ tail. — Chicago Inter-Ocean, May 5, 1901. position: Chicago’s new pitcher made his first appearance as an Or“Pittsburg has released phan/Remnant the next Sunday on the Chicago National Pitcher Rube Waddell to grounds, throwing in the first game of the series between the Chicago. Rube is a South Orphans and the Pirates. Paw of great speed and 12,000 anxious Chicago fans packed the ballpark to see the weird execution, and rebaseball wonder. Before the game, Rube was anxious to make quires a chaperon at all an impression and entertained them by pelting the backstop times. Harry Pulliam occuwith his fastballs. Determined to beat his former teammates, pied this position while he held the Pirates to one run through the first six innings. As Waddell was with Pittsmuch as he needed it, luck was not on his side. Pittsburgh ralburg, but the genial secreBy Wm. C. Anderson
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lied for three runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Despite and losing constantly because I have a bunch of dubs behind the fact that Rube pitched his heart out, and went 2 for 4 at the me,’” the Boston Daily Globe relayed in June. plate, including a triple, the Orphans lost, 4-2. Wins came at the hands of the pitcher: “Rube Waddell pitched With Chicago, Rube wanted nothing more than to excel on in great form at Chicago yesterday,” the wire report stated, “althe field, especially against his old teammates, and when the lowed but five hits, struck out seven men and won his own game Pirates returned to town on June 2, “George Edward Waddell with a terrific home run drive to the center field fence with two strove mightily . . . to encompass the overthrow of his old men on base.” playfellows.” In one of the memoThe result was devastatrable games of the seaing to Rube. son played in Chicago, “. . . because of atroand the highlight of his cious errors, mistakes . . . baseball summer, gave the Pirates six Rube went up against runs,” the Chicago Tribrookie sensation Christy une recounted. “The deMathewson and the secfeat was one of the most ond-place New York Giants in exasperating of the year, mid-June. and the big crowd was in “Big Rube Waddell . . . will an angry mood for a long oppose Mathewson today,” the time . . . It seemed at one New York Evening World protime as if the Remnants moted. “Waddell thinks he is would beat Pittsburg . . . too good to pitch for a bunch but when that chance of misfits like the Remnants, came it was thrown away but he is anxious to get a Christy Mathewson and in a manner that came near crack at Matty, and he says Rube Waddell met several times in memorable games causing a riot.” his off-side twirling wing throughout their Rube lost, 6-1. is in great shape tocareers. Artwork touting the day.” upcoming 1905 World Series appeared in the ‘A Bunch of Dubs Behind Me’ As advertised, it was Albuquerque Evening It would be a scene played Rube’s day, and Matty Citizen. out too often over the folattested to that. Despite lowing months. As hard as he being injured, Chicago’s tried, it was difficult for Rube to win every game by himself, star rose to the occasion and turned in a great performance before and he soon came to believe that he “couldn’t win against sev12,000 fans. enteen men,” either. The big pitcher Remnants Win Great Game got little support from his teammates. Mathewson the Great was no match Rube could surely pitch — and for George Edward Waddell yesterday, Loftus would consistently “card him and New York met woeful defeat at the to pitch in hopes of winning one hands of Loftus’ surprising crowd of game” — but his teammates lacked Remnants . . . when the diminished Githe competitive spirit that blessed ants, helpless before Waddell’s grand their big pitcher. pitching, saw they were beaten, they “The more they beat me the harder quit like whipped curs, broken all to I’ll pitch, and I’ll pitch so hard they pieces, sulked, and made Mathewson can’t beat me,” Rube informed baselook worse than he really was. The ball writers. score . . . was 9 to 2, and New York had “The team . . . was one of the worst been shaken out of first place in the pennant race. in the league and was trying on the Waddell never pitched better. Handpatience of the manager,” the Washicapped by a crippled right hand, he gritington (D.C) Post explained, “but it ted his teeth and went at Freedman’s hired men, using rifle was one of Tom’s faults that he seldom showed anger, even over speed and striking out ten . . . There were anxious moments . . the most grotesque of plays pulled off by his ball team.” . but Waddell was right there, and he held the hippodrome team “‘Rube’ Waddell is disgusted with his Chicago berth. He says, — Chicago Daily Tribune, June 16, 1901 helpless. ‘Here I am pitching in better form than I ever pitched in my life By Wm. C. Anderson
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a square dance. Rube strained his arm during a quadrille and this was too much for James Hart. — Pittsburg Dispatch, reprinted
Even though Waddell went the distance, got the best of Mathewson, and smacked a two-bagger in the ninth, the shine on the feel-good moment quickly wore off.
in Titusville Herald, July 24, 1901.
Rube figures ‘arithmetic was bad’ College Wonder and Night School Attendee Unhappy with his fines and suspension, Rube took the matThe two pitchers met again two weeks later in New York, ter up with Chicago baseball club president James Hart. The and the Chicago Tribune’s baseball writer determined Rube declared that he would took the opportunity to blatantly pointed not put on a uniform against St. Louis unout the difference between the two hurlers. less the fines were remitted and returned. “Christy Mathewson, the Bucknell Col“Aug. 1 is pay day,” the Tribune aclege wonder, and George Edward Waddell, knowledged, “and ‘Rube’ found his check who attended night school once, hooked up short for a few unexcused absences from in a pitcher’s battle under the shadows of morning practice at $10 per. ‘Rube’ did not Cogan’s bluff this afternoon, and this time object to the fines, but asserted that TreasMathewson, pitching wonderful ball, urer Williams’ arithmetic was bad and that scored an easy victory over Chicago, while he was given $20 the worst of it.” Waddell was driven to the shadow of the After he appealed to Hart, an argument water barrel in four innings. New York ensued and, “Waddell said he would not won the game, 14 to 3. The game was a pitch until he got that $20.” farce.” Hart stood his ground. Rube lost the arBy mid-July, the affects of Rube’s late gument, but shortly before the start of the night antics and habits began to spill over Christy Mathewson in his game, “‘Rube’ appeared ready for action.” onto the field. famous 1910 portrait. George Edward struck out nine men, sur“While pitching a game one day, Wadrendered six hits, and won easily, 5-1. dell was being hit pretty hard, and when the opposition got a lead of two runs, he slipped to the ground as if in great agony ‘Goodbye, Chicago!’ and rolled around yelling to Tom to warm up another pitcher, Notwithstanding the great reputation he had received with as he was sick,” the Washington Post recounted. the lowly Chicago team that summer, and the attention he “Loftus coaxed him to finish up the inning, which he did brought to the Windy City — winning 14, losing 14 and strikwithout any more runs being made, and during the second half ing out 168 batters in 29 starts [impressive when considering of the round the Chicago team made enough runs to get back how bad the Orphans played] — Rube, whether it was because the lead. of the restrictions, suspensions and fines imposed upon him by “. . . when asked by Loftus how he felt, [Rube] replied: ‘I the team; because he tired of pitching for the cellar-dwelling am a little better now.’ Orphans, or, perhaps, because he was again lured by the call “‘Well, go in and try to beat them, then.’ of the wild, finally skipped the team and town. “The big fellow took up the work of pitching again and con“Rube” Waddell . . . is not with the Chicago team, and his tinued to the end and managed to win the game.”
whereabouts is as much as a mystery as it was a week ago. “Rube” has strayed or is lost, and though Jim Hart searched the highways for him, before rejoining the team in the East, he has not shown on the boards. “Rube” has been down for the twirling in one or two games, but still he tarries away. It is announced from National League headquarters that if Waddell does not show up in two days, he will be suspended for the balance of the season. People who know him claim that he was seen on the roof of Comiskey’s ball park in Chicago Sunday, sitting in one of the right-hand boxes and apparently getting much pleasure out of the game. When Waddell first disappeared it was said that he was on a . . . hunt for a dog which had been shipped him from St. Louis, but which failed to reach him in a reasonable time. — St. Louis Republic, September 4, 1901.
‘Clap in, clap out’ The kindly disposition of Loftus was usually enough to control his pitcher, who made it a habit of “leaving the club up in the air,” but the manager’s propositions and congeniality were losing its effects. After Rube’s wife showed up at President’s Hart’s office, informing him that she, too, hadn’t seen her husband “as of late,” and inquiring about his whereabouts, Rube was given a suspension for missing a week of games. A Week of Gayety
Rube Waddell is again on good terms with the Chicago management after being suspended for spending a week of gayety, having not shown up . . . at Chicago to pitch against the Giants. Rube went to a hayride on Tuesday night. Wednesday night he tore into a raspberry festival.Thursday night he was the star in a game of “Clap in, clap out,” and he wound up Friday night at By Wm. C. Anderson
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