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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, 07:55 AM.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  • #2
    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 date all my baseball photos using the following book. (Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official ML BB Guide, Researched, Illustrated & Written by Marc Okkonen, 1991, 1993)

    Also, the following website, hostd by the Hall of Fame, mainly using the same book above, but also using images after 1993, has assisted me in dating some of the photos. http://exhibits.baseballhalloffame.o...e.htm#database

    On this photographic gallery, I have attempted, using the book above, to date all the photos. If I caption a photo with the following, John Smith, Cubs OF, 1910-13, that means that the photo was taken sometime between 1910-13, when the player was on the Cubs. It does NOT mean that the player was only on the Cubs in that time frame. He might have been on the Cubs from 1900-18, but the photo was only taken between 1910-13.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you enjoy this photo gallery, you might also like our other ones, too.

    Historical, Archival Photographs---Pre-1900---Negro L.---Vintage Panoramic Pictures---Members' Gallery---Runningshoes Presents: Photo Op---Meet The Sports Writers

    Photos of the following individual players---Hank Aaron---Pete Alexander---Ty Cobb---Eddie Collins---Sam Crawford---Jimmy Foxx---Lou Gehrig---Rickey Henderson---Rogers Hornsby---Joe Jackson---Walter Johnson---Nap Lajoie---Connie Mack---John McGraw---Mickey Mantle---Christy Mathewson---Willie Mays---Mel Ott---Babe Ruth---George Sisler---Tris Speaker---Pie Traynor---Rube Waddell--- Honus Wagner---Ted Williams---Zack Wheat---Rare Ty Cobb ---Rare Babe Ruth---Bill's Babe Ruth---Rare Ted Williams---Bill's Rare Finds ---Babefan's Fantastic Vintage Baseball photos---GaryL's Boston Public Library Baseball Photo Project

    We also have some very nice, attractive team photo collections---New York Yankees---New York Giants---Detroit Tigers---Pittsburgh Pirates---Brooklyn Dodgers


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Source: Top: That Old Ball Game: rare photographs from baseball's glorious past, Compiled/Edited by David R. Phillips, text by Lawrence Kart, 1975, pp. 65.
    Source: Bottom, Left: Rube Waddell: Baseball: An Illustrated History, by Geoffrey C. Ward & Ken Burns, 1994, pp. 74.
    Source: Bottom, Right: Right: Rube Waddell: Sporting News Presents Heroes of the Hall: Baseball's all-time best, by Ron Smith, 2002, pp. 460.

    ---------Rube Waddell, Browns' P, 1909-10


    -------------------------As an A, 1902-07-----------------------------------------------1902-07 (Leland's Auction)



    ----------------Rube Waddell, St. Louis Browns, ----------------------------St. Louis Browns---BB Reference
    ------------------studio photo, 1908-09-----------------------------same photo session, same canvass backdrop


    Source: Below, middle: The Great American Baseball Scrapbook, by A. D. Suehsdorf, 1978, pp. 36.

    Rube Waddell, Los Angeles Looloos' P, 1901-'02,-----Phil. A's' P, 1902-'07
    -BB Reference-----------------------------------------note the A on his shirt front,
    --------------------------------------------------------standing on a sandlot pitching rubber.


    Source: Below: The Glory of Their Times booklet, by Lawrence Ritter, 1998. Booklet accompanied the release of 4 CD set of interviews, conducted by Ritter, 1964-66.

    Rube Waddell/Christy Mathewson: 1908


    -----------Rube Waddell, studio photo, 1902-------------------------------------1908

    Source: left: INTERNET
    Source: right: Rube Waddell: Who's Who in Major League Baseball, ed. by Harold (Speed) Johnson, 1933, pp. 476. (Moffett-Russell Studio)

    ----2 studio shots of Rube: 1902.


    --------------3 shots of The Rube, as a Phil. A., 1905---------------------------------------------------------1902-07.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 12-20-2011, 01:18 PM.
    "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


    • #3
      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, 06:16 PM.
      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

      Comment


      • #4
        The whole drunk thing was Al Stump, take that however you want to

        ---Rube as a St. Louis Brown: 1908; shot on the left is taken from the shot on the right.

        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-28-2011, 09:36 PM.
        "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
          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


          • #6
            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


            • #7
              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.
              "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

              Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

              Comment


              • #8
                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


                • #9
                  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, 03:59 PM.
                  Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I believe that Waddell was mildly retarded (perhaps in the 65-69 IQ range). I've worked with students with this degree of functioning and many of their traits are the same same type of traits atributed to Waddell. In todays world, I doubt if Waddell would have ever been allowed to play baseball at any level.

                    I have no doubt that during his lifetime, Waddell would have been labeled feebleminded (the contmeporary term for MR). An acknowledged authority at the time (c. 1910) was H.H. Goddard who did a lot of research (much of which would be considered unacceptable today) on the subject of feeblemindedness and came up with the following criterium for determining feeblemindedness:

                    Family history-according to a recent biography, Waddell's father was considered the local eccentric whe Waddell was a kid.

                    Drunkeness (substance abuse)-Waddell was known for this

                    Sexual promiscuity-another thing Waddell was noted for.

                    I doubt if Waddell ever had any type of Intelligence testing. The Binet test wasn't introduced to the US until 1908. Goddard and men like Terman tweked it but it was not very reliable. It was too culturally biased. The first first mass testing was performed in 1917, after Waddell had died. The tests during WW1 were so skewed that they determined that the average American male of draft age had below-average intelligence. When this came out the work of people like Goddard came under a lot of scrutiny and the long process of determing the model measures of MR began to be devised.

                    It would be interesting to be able to give a full battery of tests to Waddel. Perhaps it was some type of chemical imbalance, but I don't think that it was. I don't believe that he was autistic either. maybe he had Aspbergers Sndrome. This is just my opinion however. Gentlemen like Goddard had no fear of forensically diagnosing someone who had been dead for 100 years. I won't try to do that.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by wamby
                      I believe that Waddell was mildly retarded (perhaps in the 65-69 IQ range). I've worked with students with this degree of functioning and many of their traits are the same same type of traits atributed to Waddell. In todays world, I doubt if Waddell would have ever been allowed to play baseball at any level.

                      I have no doubt that during his lifetime, Waddell would have been labeled feebleminded (the contmeporary term for MR). An acknowledged authority at the time (c. 1910) was H.H. Goddard who did a lot of research (much of which would be considered unacceptable today) on the subject of feeblemindedness and came up with the following criterium for determining feeblemindedness:

                      Family history-according to a recent biography, Waddell's father was considered the local eccentric whe Waddell was a kid.

                      Drunkeness (substance abuse)-Waddell was known for this

                      Sexual promiscuity-another thing Waddell was noted for.

                      I doubt if Waddell ever had any type of Intelligence testing. The Binet test wasn't introduced to the US until 1908. Goddard and men like Terman tweked it but it was not very reliable. It was too culturally biased. The first first mass testing was performed in 1917, after Waddell had died. The tests during WW1 were so skewed that they determined that the average American male of draft age had below-average intelligence. When this came out the work of people like Goddard came under a lot of scrutiny and the long process of determing the model measures of MR began to be devised.

                      It would be interesting to be able to give a full battery of tests to Waddel. Perhaps it was some type of chemical imbalance, but I don't think that it was. I don't believe that he was autistic either. maybe he had Aspbergers Sndrome. This is just my opinion however. Gentlemen like Goddard had no fear of forensically diagnosing someone who had been dead for 100 years. I won't try to do that.
                      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.
                      Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 05-26-2005, 04:05 PM.
                      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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


                        • #13
                          "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


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bluezebra
                            "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
                            Goddard's results back up what you are saying. A contemporary diagnosis of any mental condtion that Waddell suffered from would most likely be useless today.

                            Stephen Jay Gould wrote an excellent essay about men like Goddard in
                            The Mismeasure of Man.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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.
                              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 mill 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.
                              Last edited by wamby; 05-27-2005, 07:54 AM.

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