Rube Waddell, “How I Win”

9 Dec

Joseph B. Bowles, a Chicago journalist, produced a series of syndicated interviews with baseball stars in 1910.  Among them, Rube Waddell on “How I Win:”

“Curve them when they think they’re coming straight, straighten them out when they are expecting a curve, lob them when they are set for fast ones; and come on with the speed in a pinch.”

Waddell said his fastball and curve were effective but gave just as much credit to having “outguessed about as many batters who were trying to outguess me,” as any other pitcher.



The interview suggests Waddell was very aware of his reputation and used it to his benefit:

“There are a lot of fellows who think the ‘Rube,’ as they have called me ever since I was a rube, isn’t doing much thinking, but they keep taking three healthies and sitting down just the same…I know all the batters and where to pitch to them—or where not to pitch, rather—but in a game I watch them closely to see what they are trying to do, and then ‘cross’ them with something else”

Control said Waddell was critical:

“Control has been the great trouble with all left-handed pitchers, and very few of them can put the call where they want it to go.  I always have had pretty fair control and sometimes perfect control for months at a time.  A fellow cannot say honestly he always has it for there are times when the ball won’t go anywhere he wants it to go.”

He also credited his motion for his success:

“A good motion is necessary, not only to keep the batters from getting on to what a fellow is pitching, but also to save the strain on the pitching arm and back, and to add to the speed.  The only thing it hurts is control, and if you notice when a left-hander is wild it is mainly because he is swinging himself off his stride.  Then he has to shorten up the swing to regain control, and if he has not the speed with the shorter swing—bing bing—and to the bench for him.”



Like many pitchers, Waddell said he preferred taking the mound on overcast days:

“The easiest games for me are on dark days when I can just cut loose the speed and curve and mow them down,  On days like that a pitcher with speed does not need to strain his head thinking.  He can just pitch.”

5 Responses to “Rube Waddell, “How I Win””

  1. W.G. Braund December 15, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    This is really good, much like you’d imagine Rube speaking. He wasn’t as dumb as most people thought and he truly was an amazing pitcher. You might enjoy my novel based on his extraordinary life and career. It’s called “King of the Hall of Flakes.” I am now trying to get a movie made based on the screenplay I based on the novel. W.G. Braund

  2. Thom Karmik December 15, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    Thank you. I have read it and already have a link to your site on this page.


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    […] part of his series of syndicated articles asking major league players to describe “How I Win,” journalist Joseph B. Bowles spoke to Detroit Tigers infielder Charley […]

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