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Was Rube Wadell mentally "retarded"

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  • Was Rube Wadell mentally "retarded"

    Bill James asked this question in his original Baseball Historical Abstract. Wadell displayed some seriously weird behavior. Here are some of the stories I've read:

    1. He wasn't given his salary all at once. The coaches would give him a few dollars at a time because if he received it all at once he'd vanish for days.

    2. He'd chase fire trucks.

    3. Opponents would try to distract him by giving hims toys. They's lay them out ont he field and say "Look, Rube!" Waddell would then lose focus on the game.

    4. The had teammates follow him on days he pitches to make sure he came to the ball park.

    I doubt Waddell was medically mentally "retarded". He pitched in the major for many years and had great success. A truly mentally "retarded" person couldn't possibly have the mental capacity to play major league baseball. It's quite possible he may have had some chemical imbalance that could be treated today.
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 03-14-2006, 08:55 AM.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  • #2
    Originally posted by Bleacherbee
    Um, Rube Waddell was just a terrible, terrible drunk. He wouldn't be given all his money because he'd spend it on booze. He used to steal things at the ballpark and sell them for booze.

    He loved him some booze.
    I'm really interested, where did you read this?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Source: Top, Left: INTERNET
    Source: Top, Right: INTERNET
    Source: Bottom, Left: The Baseball Timeline, by Burt Solomon, 2001, pp. 123.

    ---------------Rube Waddell, 1901 Chicago Orphans


    St. Louis Browns, P, 1908-10----------------------------------------------------------1908



    --------------------------------------1908----------------------------------------------------------------------------1906



    Source: Below, right: 150 Years of Baseball, 1989, pp. 90.

    Rube Waddell, San Antonio, TX, 1914 lying in his deathbed
    from tuberculois, only 38 yrs. old. Lutheran Sanatorium.
    ,


    Source: Left: Smithsonian Baseball: Inside The World's Finest Private Collections, by Stephan Wong, 2005, pp. 244.
    Source: Right: Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official ML BB Guide, Researched, Illustrated & Written by Marc Okkonen, 1993, pp. 76.

    Rube Waddell, St. Louis Browns' P, 1909---------------------------------1908-10


    1901 Los Angeles Looloos
    Nap Lajoie (Top, far L); Rube Waddell (top, middle)



    ------------------------------1908 St. Louis Browns, 83-69, .546, 4th Place, 6.5 g. behind---BB Reference

    Source: SABR's The National Pastime: Special Pictorial Issue: The Dead Ball Era, Spring, 1986, #5, pp. 42.
    Or one can alternately use 100 Years of Major League Baseball, American and National Leagues, 1901-2000, by David Nemec/Saul Wisnia, 2000, pp. 19.


    Top Row: L-R: Jim Stevens (C), Bert Blue (C), Rube Waddell (P), Bill Dinneen (P), Tom Jones (1B), Joe Yeager (2B), Jimmy Williams (2B)

    Middle Row: L-R: Jack O'Connor (coach), Al Schweitzer (OF), Charlie Jones (OF), George Stone (LF), Danny Hoffman (CF), Tubby Spencer (C), Dode Criss (RF)

    Bottom Row: L-R: Bobby Wallace (SS), Barney Pelty (P), Harry Howell (P), Jimmy McAleer (Mgr.), Roy Hartzell (RF), Jack Powelll (P), Hobe Ferris (3B)



    2 Shots of Rube Waddell when he was on the Philadelphia Athletics.---------------------------And one when he was with the St. Louis Browns.
    Source: Far Right: The American League Story, by Lee Allen, 1965, pp. 116.

    Attached Files
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-11-2010, 07:16 PM.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

    Comment


    • #3
      One thing to keep in mind is that sportwriters of Waddell's time considered themselves to be entertainers at least as much as reporters. Coming up with "good stories" was part of their job, and anything that sounds unlikely - Waddell running off the mound to chase a firetruck for example - needs to be taken with considerable skepticism.

      Al Stump wasn't there. Everything I've seen in BB history books about Waddell describes him as, let's say, eccentric, rather than alcoholic - and these are sources that have no trouble identifying players such as Foxx, Waner, Alexander, and many lesser lights as problem drinkers.

      Whether and to what extent he was actually mentally disturbed is unclear. Bipolar maybe? It seems to fit in some ways.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by westsidegrounds
        Al Stump wasn't there.
        But the person he was writing about at the time was
        "From reading some of your other posts your to much of a jerk, who thinks he's funny to debate on any thread. Just wanted to let you know what i and im sure others think of your mostly stupid posts..."

        Comment


        • #5
          All these stories make Wadell entertaining to say the least, I love the guy and his style of pitching... all crazy like. He wasnt a retard just kind of childish, oh and there is nothing wrong with boozing it up a bit... I do it all the time...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ElHalo
            Bill believes that Waddell was autistic, which may have been the case. He also was known as a boozer, hence his arm injury in a bar fight that effectively ended his career.
            That's an interesting theory. I'd like to read more...
            Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 05-26-2005, 04:59 PM.
            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
              I do have my doubts how a milded retarted person could perform at the major league level. Pitching against major league hitters is an activity that requires high concentration, quick thinking, and ability to analyze game situations. Waddell was a great pitcher for several years, stiking out over 300 hitters in one season. In the Dead Ball era that is impressive.

              Good point.

              Asperger's Syndrome seems like an interesting theory.

              However much he may have drunk, accounts of the time - which do need to be taken with plenty of salt - make it clear that Waddell's behaviors were regarded as being in a different class from those of his alcohol-abusing contemporaries.

              Comment


              • #8
                "Drunkeness (substance abuse)-Waddell was known for this

                Sexual promiscuity-another thing Waddell was noted for."

                That takes in a HUGE portion of the American male population.

                Bob

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by wamby
                  Waddell perfromed well when he was kept on an extremely tight leash by Connie Mack. I've looked for contemporary reports on Waddell's ptiching but haven't found anything interesting yet. My suspicion is that opposing players thought Waddell was a nutjob (not merely eccentric like Germany Schaefer or a run of the drunk like Bugs Raymond) and batters ere afraid to dig in against him because he threw so hard. His walk totals look a little high for the dead ball era. I suspect that his pitching was the only aspect of his life that he had only reall control over.
                  Another famous "nutjob" was Steve Dalkowski (sp?) the flame throwing minor pitcher of the 1960s. Bill James wrote about him in his manager's book when talking about Earl Weaver. Weaver managed him for two years I think. Weaver gave his team an IQ test and Dalkowski scored in the 60s. Weaver realized that the problem was the coaches were giving Dalkowski too much information and he couldn't take it all in. So he simplied things for him. He told him to throw nothing but fastballs and changeups. and throw strikes. Dalkowski's perfomance under Weaver was startling. Before Weaver, Dalkowski would have seasons were he'd walk 250 guys in 250 IP. Under Weaver he just dominated lowering his walk totals to about 65 (these stats are from memory so they may not be 100% accurate).
                  Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 05-27-2005, 09:03 AM.
                  Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
                    Another famous "nutjob" was Steve Dalkowski (sp?) the flame throwing minor pitcher of the 1960s. Bill James wrote about him in his manager's book when talking about Earl Weaver. Weaver managed him for two years I think. Weaver gave his team an IQ test and Dalkowski scored in the 60s. Weaver realized that the problem was the coaches were giving Dalkowski too much information and he couldn't take it all in. So he simplied things for him. He told him to throw nothing but fastballs and changeups. and throw strikes. Dalkowski's perfomance under Weaver was startling. Before Weaver, Dalkowski would have seasons were he'd walk 250 guys in 250 IP. Under Weaver he just dominated lowering his walk totals to about 65 (these stats are from memroy so they may not be 100% accurate).
                    I wouldn't be surprised if Mack had Waddell on a similar type program. I think 100 years ago a manager could have gotten away with having a pitcher who had an IQ in the 60s perform in the majors. No way that would happen since about 1945 or 1950.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Rube Waddell
                      In the 1920's, Harry Heilmann led the AL with a .364 average. In addition, he averaged 220 hits, 45 doubles, 12 triples, 16 homers, 110 runs, and 130 RBI.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Months ago, I was going through a baseball history book with my eight-year-old son, and when we came to a picture of Rube, I told my boy about his supposed antics, like running off the mound to chase a fire truck, and managers having to rouse him from local saloons to pitch. I also included the anticdote from Wahoo Sam Crawford in Glory of Their Times, which described how Rube never wore underwear, and would get undressed as he ran across the field.

                        My son thinks all this stuff is hilarious, and he often brings up "that drunk guy who never wore any underwear."

                        So, true or not, they make for great stories to pass onto the kiddies!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules
                          1. He wasn't given his salary all at once. The coaches would give him a few dollars at a time because if he received it all at once he'd vanish for days.

                          2. He'd chase fire trucks.

                          3. Opponents would try to distract him by giving hims toys. They's lay them out ont he field and say "Look, Rube!" Waddell would then lose focus on the game.

                          4. The had teammates follow him on days he pitches to make sure he came to the ball park.
                          Bad money management, chasing fire trucks and losing focus because of toys, ladies in the stands, etc., and heading off to bars on game days do not make you retarded. I didn't read James' Abstract, but if those were the primary basis for his question, then he wasted time writing about it.
                          Never confuse character with geography --- Red Smith
                          Astros Daily

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Waddell was not autistic nor retarded

                            He was uneducated and had fun playing baseball, while drinking too much at times

                            Why was Rube not autistic nor retarded

                            He has many quotes noting his knowledge of the game

                            One game Kid Elberfield got 4 base hits off of him in a game, Rube stated after "Darn, if I knew that I would have walked him 4 times to get the no hitter" doesn't sound like mental problems there

                            True Hughie Jennings had the toys at 1b box to distract Rube, but even Ty Cobb didn't try and rag on Waddell, because when he got angry or slighted he focused and would beat you senseless, not somethign an autistic or retard could accomplish

                            He would trash talk like Deion Sanders, and against someone like Cy Young...that cost him big time as he tossed a 1 hitter while Young pitched a Perfect Game, Waddell never tried to be cocky to Cy Young again, not something someone with autism or retardation could accomlish

                            He was just fun loving, a Rube, and charismatic man who loved kids and women and beer (not booze, he only drank beer) he also loved wrestling and loved to take on big guys like Buck Freeman and Charlie Hickman

                            His Catcher Ossee Schrengost by all accounts was even weirder then Rube

                            and El Halo, Rube didn't rip his arm out in a drunken fight, he hurt it playfully fighting with Andy Coakley (who would go on to coach Columbia for 40 years )
                            before the train trip a week before the 1905 WS IIRC


                            If anything Rube was just one of the more kaleidoscopic characters, a braggart, an oddball, a uneducated country bumpkin in baseball's history that got phased out when baseball became more professional driven during the 60's

                            Rube Waddell was a real life Peter Pan, nothing more, nothing less

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Actually Ossee ate animal crackers in bed and Rube made Mack put the clause in Ossee's contract, although it is usually reversed because one thinks of Rube in that light

                              Comment

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