Another Rube Waddell Story

31 Jul

There are probably as many stories about George Edward “Rube” Waddell as any player in the history of baseball; and some of them might be true,

This one was told by Hugh Fullerton in The Chicago Tribune, and is about the contract Waddell signed to join the Chicago Orphans in 1901.

Waddell with St. Louis Browns Mascot

Rube Waddell

Despite the erroneous story, told through the decades, that the Pirates were so anxious to rid themselves of Waddell that they let him go for a cigar (or a box of cigars in some versions), there was actually a great deal of interest in Waddell and while the sale price was never disclosed, The Chicago Daily News said Chicago paid “good money” for the pitcher.

In addition to Chicago, other contemporaneous reports said the Boston Beaneaters were very interested in obtaining Waddell.

Fullerton told a good story, maybe just as erroneous as the cigar story, of how Chicago manager Tom Loftus was able to sign Waddell and thus beat Boston to the punch of purchasing his release from Pittsburgh:

“(Rube) was threatening to annihilate several members of the team and he was on one of his periodical rampages.  Boston wanted him badly—and so did Chicago.  Boston offered to give him $3,500 for the remainder of the season, and Chicago was willing to pay him only $2,400 and Loftus was delegated to sign Rube and make him be glad to knock off $1,000 from his earnings from the end of May to the middle of October.  Loftus cornered George Edward and commenced jollying him.

“’I’ll tell you, Tom,’ said Eddie, ‘I’d rather play with you than with Boston, but they offer me $1,100 more.

“’That’s all right,’ said Tom.  ‘Don’t let a little thing like that stop you from joining a good ball club with a lot of good fellows.”

Fullerton said the two discussed the pros and cons of Waddell accepting Chicago’s offer when Loftus finally said:

 “’I’ll tell you, Eddie, what I’ll do.  You sign that contract, and when we get to New York I’ll buy you the best Panama hat in town.

’“’All right,’ said George Edward.  ‘Just put that in the contract.’”

Fullerton said the deal was made and “When they got to New York Loftus bought him the $1,000 Panama hat—for $28.”

Tom Loftus

Tom Loftus

Waddell’s time in Chicago was brief, and typically bizarre.  After posting a 14-14 record and a 2.81 ERA for Loftus and the Orphans, Rube received an offer he couldn’t refuse in September.

The Tribune told the “pitiable little story, this tale of ‘Rube’ Waddell and his love of nature.”  Waddell had deserted the team to play for an amateur club in the town of Grayslake, Illinois, about 40 miles north of Chicago.  The Tribune said Waddell was induced to go north with the promise of being able to fish six days a week, if he pitched on the seventh.

The Orphans suspended Waddell for the remainder of the season.  In December he jumped Chicago to join Los Angeles in the California League.

16 Responses to “Another Rube Waddell Story”


  1. “A Great deal of foolish Sympathy was wasted on Rusie” | Baseball History Daily - September 3, 2013

    […] The Associated Press, in a short story about the Philadelphia Athletics’ eccentric and troubled Rube Waddell in 1904 […]

  2. “The fans make us the ‘goat’ for Everything” | Baseball History Daily - November 21, 2013

    […] Burns suspended pitcher Bill Phyle without pay in August of 1899, even after Burns was replaced by Tom Loftus, Phyle remained in […]

  3. The Tribune’s First All-Star Team | Baseball History Daily - February 21, 2014

    […] Young of Boston led pitchers with five votes, with Philadelphia’s Rube Waddell being the choice of the other […]

  4. Rube and Ossee | Baseball History Daily - March 10, 2014

    […] Much of the blame for the poor finish was directed at Rube Waddell. […]

  5. Bugs Versus Rube | Baseball History Daily - June 9, 2014

    […] and daffy pitcher of the big leagues “Bugs” Raymond is leading by an elbow over our old friend, G. Edward Waddell, known to fame and a portion of Missouri as the […]

  6. Sam Crane on International Baseball | Baseball History Daily - July 30, 2014

    […] base hit every other time at bat, making his average .500…Wonder what the Africans would do with ‘Rube’ Waddell and the Chesbro ‘spit […]

  7. “It was one of those Lucky Days when a Player can hit a pea” | Baseball History Daily - August 8, 2014

    […] Heights last season, when we were playing the Philadelphia Athletics.  Connie Mack had saved Rube Waddell for us, and the famous southpaw never had more speed or better benders.  When Rube is right he is […]

  8. Bill Setley | Baseball History Daily - October 1, 2014

    […] A. Phelon said Setley, who was “crazier than Rube Waddell ever thought of being,” and described an incident “when the pennant hung on the final game,” […]

  9. “Then the Harder I threw the Harder they hit them” | Baseball History Daily - October 3, 2014

    […] playing for the Atlanta Crackers two years later told The Atlanta Constitution  he thought “Rube Waddell and Bugs Raymond, two players well-known for their eccentricities…will have to take off their top […]

  10. “You have to be Diplomatic Sir, you have to be Diplomatic” | Baseball History Daily - October 29, 2014

    […] is, in my opinion,  a funnier card among umpires than (Rube) Waddell ever was among eccentric ball tossers…On one occasion he was umpiring in some town—I think it […]

  11. “Wallace’s Head is Abnormally Developed” | Baseball History Daily - December 29, 2014

    […] litany of “abnormal” left-handers–Rube Waddell, Crazy Schmit, Nick Altrock, Slim Sallee, Lady Baldwin, etc…–were trotted out to […]

  12. “A Boy he Lived and a Boy he Died” | Baseball History Daily - July 29, 2015

    […] Rube Waddell died on April 1, 1914, he was eulogized by sportswriters across the country.  Perhaps no one […]

  13. “Waddell got in his Deadly Work” | Baseball History Daily - September 28, 2015

    […] July 12, 1902, Rube Waddell beat the Boston Americans 3-2, throwing a five-hitter.  The Philadelphia Times […]

  14. Connie Mack vs Herman W. Souse | Baseball History Daily - November 6, 2015

    […] step in the box and pitch a wonderful game of ball.  Players who haven’t any more sense point to Rube Waddell, Bugs Raymond and that brand and say: ‘Ah, those were the good old days.  None of these […]

  15. Rube Waddell, “How I Win” | Baseball History Daily - December 9, 2015

    […] journalist, produced a series of syndicated interviews with baseball stars in 1910.  Among them, Rube Waddell on “How I […]

  16. “He Used to Knock Down Infielders” | Baseball History Daily - July 23, 2016

    […] wise ones in the baseball business” were certain he’d be back, including Chicago’s manager Tom Loftus and President James Hart, and Charlie Comiskey, “’When the season opens and the sun warms up he […]

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