“The Reformation of Rube Waddell”

30 Dec

After the Browns purchased Rube Waddell from the Athletics in 1908, The St. Louis Star implored its readers:

“Absolutely refuse to buy a drink for Rube Waddell, lead him not into temptation.

“Each and every fan in St. Louis should use his influence and good offices to keep Rube straight.

“No bartender or saloonkeeper should sell Waddell a drink under any pretext whatever.

“No one should offer ‘Baseball’s Buffoon’ any beer or whiskey.”

Rube

Fans, the paper said, thought they, “must show their gratitude to players and loyalty to the club by getting the diamond artists drunk.”

If all of St. Louis came together, the paper said:

“If you do your duty, next fall a sensational melodrama will be staged entitled ‘The Reformation of Rube Waddell.’”

While Rube had not yet arrived in St. Louis, The Star decided by April 1 that Waddell had found the cure:

“’Mother’s angel child’ could not be a more perfect little gentleman.

“How was the ‘reformation of Rube Waddell’ accomplished?

“Papa (Jimmy) McAleer, a stern father, has worked wonders.

“Under his management. Rube has been the best-behaved little boy in the entire camp.

Not once has he broken loose and set about to ‘lap up all the booze’ in Shreveport.”

So complete was his ‘reformation,’ said the paper that:

“Sober and sedate, Rube now reviews complacently the days when he was ‘the village cut-up’ and ‘hell-raiser.”

Clark McAdams who wrote a humor column for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggested a scenario where the city’s leaders would get together and grant Waddell free fishing privileges in St Louis’ Forest Park:

“This should be easily arranged. While we do not permit fishing in the park, there is a fish hatchery there, and the fishing must compare very favorably with any in the world. I am sure no one with the welfare of St. Louis at heart would object to letting Mr. Waddell fish there.”

The efforts—real and imagined—of the people of St. Louis and McAleer to keep Rube in check seem to have paid off.  The 31-year-old was 19-14 with a 1.89 ERA for the resurgent Browns who improved from 69 and 83 in 1907 to 83 and 69 in 1908; attendance at Sportsman’s Park increased by nearly 200,000 with an effective, generally sober, Rube.

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