Rube Waddell: Story of the Most Heroic, Egregious Idiot in Cubs History

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rube waddell

George Edward Waddell, or as history as called him Rube Waddell, was born on a Friday the 13th and passed away on an April Fool’s Day. In between he lived a life that was well, covered just about everything one could hope to do. Like so many great American heroes he was taken from us too young; passing at the age of 37.

As my co-host on “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” Travis Miller said- we like to think that the reason he died so young was because he really had nothing else left to do. Here at this link, as well as in the embedded file below, we recap the highlights of Rube Waddell’s life in LGWS 7, on the Hammer & Rails podcast network.

The childhood hobby of Rube Waddell was throwing rocks at birds, and it was via this deranged activity that the never formally educated (but still pitched for a college somehow) amazing idiot developed his pitching arm. Eventually he learned not to
throw the ball at the runner. Waddell didn’t pick up the rues of the game at first, but eventually he understood this wasn’t dodgeball, and that “indian tags” don’t apply.

Rube Waddell also, on several occasions, called for all of his fielders behind him to sit down and do nothing because he was about to strike out the side. All the while he would cartwheel and somersault between the dugout and mound, enter the game through the stands, and take the spectators’ food and beer. If you didn’t like that, he would fight you.

Rube Waddell would also frequently get drunk before games, and once got kicked off a Louisville professional team just two days after showing up.

He also once pitched both ends of double header (the first game was 17 innings alone!), set the record of 16 Ks in one game, and once battled his peer and equal, Cy Young, to a 20 inning duel. Waddell’s season strikeout record once stood for 61 years. The Hall of Famer wrestled alligators in a traveling circus during the offseason, but was easily distracted by puppies and shiny objects.

He once left a game, right in the middle of it to go fishing, and he quite often left the pitcher’s mound to go chase fire trucks. He was also, technically a Cub, as he pitched one season for the Chicago Orphans; quite possibly the worst team name in MLB history.

Imagine today, the “Chicago Latch-key Kids” in a cross-town rivalry with the “Chicago Helicopter Parents.” A man who lost track of how many women he married (not had sex with, married) is also credited with saving 13 lives, and one stray log in a body of water. He also survived being bit by a lion.

Cheers to you Rube Waddell, who certainly lived a live that was unbelievably full.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation. 

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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