”The Dreadful Rumor is Probably only too True”

16 Nov

The unpredictable, eccentric George Edward “Rube” Waddell made several attempts to parlay his baseball fame into an off-season sideline in the theater.

Waddell’s stage debut was December 5, 1900, in Brookville, Pennsylvania as part of “Hindman and Kummers’ Union Scout” touring company.   The Sporting Life did not approve, their headline read:

“Rude Waddell to Make a Clown of Himself for Cheap Theatrical Gain.”

The touring variety show appears to have been a success and included Waddell leading a brass band in a street parade and performing in skits.

Rube Waddell

Waddell’s next foray into the theater was in 1903.  He played a detective in a melodrama called “The Stain of Guilt.”   Waddell the actor was as difficult to control as Waddell the pitcher.  According to The Pittsburgh Press:

“On several occasions he has been numbered with the missing when the curtain has come up.”

The Chicago Tribune reviewed the play which made its debut at the city’s Alhambra Theater:

“Rube has what may be classified as a thinking part, for he isn’t called upon to say much.  In the four acts of the play he delivers himself of twenty-four words.”

The review ended with the facetious assertion that in the fourth act Waddell, “Fairly shines…he hurls twelve whole words at the cowering villain and grateful hero.”

The universally negative reviews might have dissuaded a lesser man than the self-proclaimed “Greatest baseball pitcher in the world.”  But Waddell was back the next year.

The Butler (PA) Times said:

“More alarming than the news of the probabilities of war between Russia and Japan, is the announcement that Rube Waddell, the notorious baseball player, is to join his ability as an actor…in the production of “A Daring Woman.”

The Times suggests hopefully that the announcement is a publicity stunt but concluded:

“A New York special says that Rube is in that city taking part in the rehearsals of the play, so that dreadful rumor is probably only too true.”

The play does not appear to have actually been staged.

Waddell with St. Louis Browns Mascot


3 Responses to “”The Dreadful Rumor is Probably only too True””


  1. “Bugs” and Trains « Baseball History Daily - December 28, 2012

    […] Rube Waddell, whose eccentricities were the standard by which all players of his era were judged, weighed in about Raymond, saying about Bugs something he could have said about himself: […]

  2. Fielder Jones and the Chehalis Gophers « Baseball History Daily - February 11, 2013

    […] pitchers of the era there was one he was often compared; The Daily Chronicle called him “The Rube Waddell of the Northwestern […]

  3. Another “Rube” | Baseball History Daily - March 4, 2013

    […] he began to earn a reputation as “eccentric’ and “erratic,” the inevitable comparisons to Rube Waddell and his small time roots earned Parnham the nickname “Rube,” he was also known as […]

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