On April 1, 1914, George Edward Waddell, better known as “Rube” dies from tuberculosis in San Antonio, TX, at the age of 37. The eccentric Future Hall of Fame was Known as much for his off-field behavior as on the field . . . he will miss an occasional miss a scheduled start because he was off fishing or playing marbles with street urchins.
Waddell would disappear for days during spring training, only to be found leading a parade down the main street of Jacksonville, Florida, or wrestling an alligator in a nearby lagoon.
He didn’t draw a regular salary because he didn’t know what to do with it; he’d just go to the manager and get $5 or $10 as he needed it. One manager said if you gave him $25 you might not see him again for a week. He was irresistibly attracted to fire engines, and on the day that he was pitching a teammate or more was always assigned to make sure he got to the ballpark all right and didn’t go off chasing any fire engines.”
On his gravestone, you can still find toy fire engines.
Despite his acts, he was one of the top lefthanded pitchers in major league history, Leading the American League in strikeouts for six years in a row including setting a record at 349 in one season, (post-1901) that record stood until Sandy Koufax broke it in 1965. Only Koufax, Nolan Ryan, and Randy Johnson have been able to strike out more batters in a single season. Waddell also collected four consecutive 20-win seasons from 1902 to 1906, including the Triple Crown in 1905 with 27 wins, 287 strikeouts, and a 1.48 ERA.
His fantastic career was rewarded in 1946 as the Special Veterans Committee inducts him into the Baseball Hall of Fame.