George Edward "Rube" Waddell
Born: Friday the 13th (1876)
Died: April Fools Day (1914)
"He made my team. He was the greatest pitcher in the game and although widely known for his eccentricities, was more sinned against than sinning. He was the best-hearted man on our team and every man with whom he came in contact will verify my statement. When a comrade was sick the Rube was first on hand to see him and the last to leave and if he had money it went for some gift or offering to the sick man."
"Nothing you can say will be too strong to express my feelings about the Rube. He was my friend, Connie’s friend, the friend of every player on the team, and to his ability we owed pennants, and the Athletic management owed much of the popularity which followed the team. I am sorry a great pitcher, a fine-hearted athlete and a much misunderstood man has passed out."
Harry Davis (Athletics’ Captain)
Many a good laugh has been stilled by the announcement from San Antonio, Tex. that George Edward (Rube) Waddell has been called out by the Chief of Umpires.
The eccentric left-hander probably gave the baseball public more successive laughs and shocks than any other diamond figure.
Los Angeles Times
Let it be said now that Waddell saved the American league from the rocks of bankruptcy.
Rube's activity with Connie Mack's band virtually saved the American League from bankruptcy in the stormy season following the American's raid on the National rank and file.
Baseball was more joyous because of him. He was a fun-maker extraordinary. He drove away gloom like the sun dispersing the fog. He made everybody happy. Millions smiled at his antics.
The end of the spectacular life of George Edward Waddell calls the attention of the vast army of baseball fans to one of those characters, at once the most enviable and the saddest and most pitiful in the world, who are too giant-hearted for the civilization in which they live. They are affectionate, good-hearted giants, too big to see how little they serve their own interest, too impatient and too full of animal energy to stop and work out all the little tricks and artifices that would bring them gain; giving always open-handedly and with both hands; relying absolutely in an abounding energy, even finding pleasure and exhilaration in wasting and destroying that energy; angered only as a child is angered, by the sting of little annoyances, and sobered only in the presence of the genuine distress of others.
Rube was many kinds of man - angler, trap-shot, football-player, actor, fire fiend, amateur barkeeper, prize borrower, practical joker, comedian, a sworn enemy of gloom, a joyous wastrel, a boy that never grew up - as well as one of the greatest pitchers. As the leading comedian of baseball he was on the job, day and night, 365 days in the year.
To our way of thinking the man who causes laughter and chases care is a philanthropist and a doer of most goodly deed, even though his antics may sometimes be exaggerated by over indulgence. Poor Rube at least made millions smile, his escapades rocked the nation with the richness of their humor, and his capers left no sting.
Rube Waddell left no enemies behind; he hurt no one save himself; and even there, who has a right to say damage was done? For the Rube lived his life and enjoyed it to the fullest.
The Sporting News
Rube Waddell was the daddy of the lot, a genuine "nut" attracting more fun lovers and living longer in their memory. When the curtain fell on his wonderful career, it shut out the light of a remarkable athlete, for that’s an appellation Waddell deserves.
He played and talked like a kid and the boys loved him. The people seemed to be charmed by this big, irresponsible giant, to love him for his weakness and to forgive anything he might do.
St. Louis Globe-Democrat
He was the kingpin of the pitching staff and helped make $165,000 in one year for his purchaser (St. Louis Browns’ owner Robert Lee Hedges), more than twice the capital stock of the club. With it the club was able to pay close to 100 percent dividend and build an grandstand and park equipment which cost $80,000.
He had an arm like Hercules and ideas like a child.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
His brilliant achievements on the diamond and sensational escapades were advertising mediums which brought thousands of dollars.
Detroit Free Press
In his day there was no man like Waddell in the sense of being an irresponsible actor. His fame, however, when the sun of performances shines through the clouds of romance, will rest on his work in the American League.
Grand Rapids News
Doing queer and ordinarily dangerous stunts was pleasure for the Rube. While in this city he was the pride of baseball fans and numerous stories are told of his prowess and eccentricities.
New Castle (PA) News
No hurler in the history of the national game was ever in the limelight to such an extent as was Waddell. No man ever had a more valuable arm and no athlete ever drove a manager to distraction quite as often as the late George Edward. All he wanted out of life was fun..
When in form he was a wonder at the pitching game, his left-handed delivery fairly "burning" the ball over, as the players say to denote the pitcher’s speed, while his curves had a break which, when he was going well, were as baffling to the greatest batters as to the weaker.
Boston Evening Transcript
He had a faculty for doing the odd and spectacular. There was delicious humor in many of his vagaries, a vagabond impudence and ingenuousness that made them attractive to the public. He faced the greatest hitter smilingly, no matter how serious the crisis, seemingly certain that no batsman could overcome his smoke.
Columbus (OH) Dispatch
He was both eccentric and spectacular, and in his day, was the most noted pitcher in the baseball world. His passing is pathetic. Prosperity waned with his career and he was next to destitute when the curtain of death fell on his varied career.
Hickman (KY) Courier
He soon became an idol here and pitched some of the finest ball likely to ever be seen. He was eccentric even then and many are the stories told of his odd doings.
Grand Rapids Press
It would require volumes to tell of Waddell’s exploits in the field of sport. He was by turn baseball player, football player, fisherman extraordinary and one of the best amateur trap shots in the country. He died as he had lived - hopeful and optimistic. With him to the last it was always a "couple weeks of more" when he would be "as good as ever."
Batters great and small, mighty and weak, fell victims to Waddell’s blinding speed and dazzling curves, for they all looked alike to him when feeling good and at his best.
Milwaukee Free Press
Waddell’s activities in Punxsutawney are too well remembered to need recounting. Here he practiced his eccentricities to their full limit and it was those eccentricities as much as his wonderful pitching that made him the idol of the young fans here. Every fan in Punxsutawney has a warm spot in his heart for Rube Waddell and it is with regret that they will learn of his death.
The Spirit (Punxsutawney, PA)
It would require volumes to tell of Waddell’s exploits in the field of sport. He was by turn baseball player, football player, fisherman extraordinary and one of the best amateur trap shots in the country.
The kindest, most amiable, but most irresponsible figure that ever graced baseball’s stage, a physical wonder and the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time, a jester who toyed with life as a bauble and tossed it away at last as a useless thing - that man, the "haggard harlequin" of our national game, was George Edward Waddell.
Now that he has passed from the Known to the Unknown, let us forget the weakness of spirit, and remember only the kindly heart and splendid courage of the man who was the wonder of his profession.
Philadelphia Public Ledger
"He was the greatest left-hander who ever lived, I believe, but he could not withstand temptation and now he is dead at a time when he still ought to be in the major league, pitching winning ball. I never heard of another southpaw who had such wonderful stuff as this fellow. He was practically unhittable when in his prime and if he had taken care of himself like Walter Johnson does, for instance, nobody ever would have got a foul off him," said Hugh Jennings (Detroit Tigers’ manager).
Sympathy for Waddell and regret over his sad end were expressed by all Tigers who had known him. Ty Cobb said that the "Rube" was one of the greatest pitchers he ever faced.
Detroit Free Press
Wherever Waddell came ripples of laughter preceded his arrival; something richly humorous invariably happened during his sojourn, and long after his departure the memory of his absurdities remained. He hurt no one; his follies harmed nobody but himself-and judging by the many, many years that he lasted, it took a long time for his comedy to harm him. There was but one Waddell-perhaps there will never be another.
Let us remember Rube for the fun he brought, for the happiness he gave and the real tenderness of his simple loving nature, and grant just this once that he was the more tender, the more loving because he mellowed that nature with alcohol.
Had it been Waddell’s fate to be a slave to the cold and calculating god of business, he might have been reckoned a failure, but happily his was a different and a greater part. To our way of thinking his life was a far greater success than that of the millionaire who dies sober, with mortgages on the realty of half the world and money in every bank. The Rube’s life was in harmony with the part he played and it was a part that makes us all his debtor.
The Sporting News
The creator of glee and the enemy of gloom, he contributed more to the nation’s gayety than any other single ball player in the history of the game. He was the king’s jester of the national pastime and he, in one of his antics did he draw his fun at another’s expense. His pranks left no sting.
Colorado Springs Gazette
He was idolized and imitated in the barn-lots of lonely prairie farms, and in the crowded parks and back-alleys of the great cities. He was a human, roistering adventurer with all the lovable frailties of Captain Kidd or John Silver. And the fans knew him as a pal. He endeared himself to the public with his Huckleberry Finn peregrinations.