William A. Phelon, like Hugh Fullerton, told many stories over the years that may or may not have been 100% truthful. One of his favorite subjects was Rube Waddell, who was the subject of as many apocryphal stories as any player of his era.
In 1912, Phelon, then writing for The Cincinnati Times-Star, told a story that he claimed happened while Waddell was pitching for Chicago and Phelon was writing for The Chicago Daily News:
“When Rube Waddell was much younger than he is today—to be exact, back in the golden days of 1901–he was with the Chicago club, and he was just as original and interesting as at the present time. In just two respects the Rube was very different then—he was a heavy batter (not exactly heavy, but waddle hit .237 in 334 at bats through 1902, and .129 in 732 at bats thereafter), and he was a fiend for work. You couldn’t put him on the slab too often to suit him, and you could throw him very few shoots that he couldn’t hit.”
“One pleasant summer afternoon, during the Rube’s short stay with the Chicago club, he was feeling unusually hilarious, and worked his head off to show up the opposition. Never did the Rube have finer curves or better speed. Zim, zipp, the ball hurtled through the ether, and the batsmen were helpless before his terrific delivery. He held the hostiles to perhaps three hits, struck out ten men, and made a three-bagger on his own accord. It was a great day for Rube and the crowd went wild about him.
“Next morning, while Jim Hart, the boss of the Chicago club, was in his downtown office, a delegation of bankers called upon him. ‘We are all coming out this afternoon, Mr. Hart,’ said the spokesman of the crowd, ‘and we have bought up a whole front row of boxes. There’s only one thing we are sorry for, however—we had all hoped to see Waddell pitch, and we thought he would be due to work today. If we had known that he was going in yesterday, we’d have been there instead of this afternoon.”
According to Phelon, Waddell was made aware that the bankers were disappointed he would not be pitching and said he’d “go in again” the next day.
“And Mr. Waddell made good. He went back on the slab that afternoon and pitched a gorgeous game, winning in easy style, while the rapturous bankers whooped and bellowed in the boxes.
“About ten days later, Mr. Waddell walked into the office of the banker who had been the spokesman for the delegation. He was cordially received and invited to sit down in the inner sanctum. Mr. Waddell, roosting his hat upon the rosewood desk, lit a cigar, crossed his knees, and said, smilingly:
“‘Are you a believer in reciprocity?’
“’Why of course,’ said the banker. ‘What about it?’
“’Well, Mr. Banker, I did you a favor the other day, didn’t I?’
“’You certainly did. I was extremely grateful to you Mr. Waddell.’
“’Then Mr. Banker, suppose you reciprocate. Lend me $50.’
“And Rube got the fifty. Did the banker ever get it back? Does a Hyena fly? Why ask such foolish questions.”