Rube Waddell was a pitcher with the Louisville Colonels, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Athletics, and the St. Louis Browns. He led the league in strikeouts six years in a row, was a four time 20 game winner, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946. Impressive numbers, all, but they don't begin to tell his story.

Rube Waddell was a character, even by the low (high?) standards of turn of the 20th Century baseball. He was a notoriously fast spender, and it's said that the Athletics, in an attempt to make him more frugal, paid him his entire salary in dollar bills. In exhibition games he would often call his defense off of the field and then strike out the side. He couldn't do this in regular season games, because there is a rule requiring nine men on the field at all times, so he did the next best thing--he'd tell his outfielders to sit down. One of the lines in his contract required that he not eat animal crackers in bed, as it bothered his roommate.

After his major league days were over, Waddell continued to tour the minor leagues. In 1912, while he was staying in Kentucky with his manager, there was a flood. He aided in sandbagging the embankments, and the time he spent deep in cold water is said to have affected his health. After collapsing during the 1913 season, he spent the rest of his life in a Texas sanatorium, where he died April 1, 1914. He was only 37. Despite his win-loss record, a meager 193-143, his dominance with strikeouts and his status as one of his era's best left handed pitchers ensured his election into the Hall of Fame.

Major League Baseball Hall of Fame
Bill Veeck | Honus Wagner


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