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Was Rube Wadell mentally "retarded"

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  • Bothrops Atrox
    replied
    I also have a degree in psychology and concur that this does not look like MR on the surface. Of course I am not a licensed psychotherapist or Dr., etc., so my opinion means very little.

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  • csh19792001
    replied
    Originally posted by Fuzzy Bear View Post
    That doesn't sound like a mentally retarded person to me. An adult with severe ADHD or some other condition along the autism spectrum, maybe, but that's not a mentally retarded person.

    Today, of course, Rube Waddell would be lucky to get to a major league stadium with a ticket. He'd have been in so much trouble prior to age 18, he'd have been stuck in the juvenile justice system of his state, with little or no opportunity to play the kind of baseball he'd need to play in order to get his shot.
    I agree 100%. As someone with a background in psychometrics (and a seminal background in Waddell), I can say with certainty that his IQ could not have been in the MR range.

    As to his conduct, either these stories (see below) are badly exaggerated and rife with extrapolation and interpolation........or........conduct and standards were vastly different a century ago. I tend to think America was a much more unregulated, wild, lawless, enthralling/interesting place. That could just be my/our capacity for lore at work.

    Still, can you envision Clayton Kershaw acting like this? Perhaps Josh Hamilton {off the wagon, of course}? I don't think it's possible to be THIS out of control in the 21st Century.

    "[After a big win, Connie] Mack insisted Rube rest a few days.... Giving Rube time off was no guarantee he was going to rest, however, particularly because Rube still had lots of friends in Detroit. One evening that week, Mack was in the hotel lobby. Rube suddenly walked in with a policeman. The officer explained to Mack that Rube had created a disturbance, that he had... Mack politely interrupted the constable, as it never took much to convince him that Rube had done something wrong. Mack asked the officer what would happen as a result of the misdemeanors. Mack's sizable assumption was that the problems did not involve felonies; fortunately, that was the case here.

    "The officer said that Rube would be arrested and would have to pay a fine, but nothing more. Mack asked if the fine could be paid right then and there. The officer agreed and told Mack that $10 would cover it. Mack immediately gave the officer the $10 and sent Rube to his room.

    "An hour later, Mack decided to take a stroll down the street before going to bed. Down the street, he passed a saloon and glanced in the window. There were Rube and the `officer' drinking up the $10."
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "The year 1903 was an eventful one for Rube. He wrestled alligators, chased pigs, rode ostriches and reportedly attempted suicide. He led a marching minstrel band, acted on stage, tended bar, posed as a department store mannequin and raced motorcycles. He got married, fought a couple of teammates on Market Street, brought toys up to the batter's box, and climbed into the stands and slugged an obnoxious fan. Three times he was criminally charged: twice for assault and once for spousal non-support. Numerous times he disappeared from his team, and twice he was suspended from baseball.

    "Throughout all of this, his month-shortened season record was 22 wins and 16 losses. His ERA was 2.44. Despite all of his time off, he led the league in complete games (34), and his strikeout total of 302 was then the best in the history of the game. No one else in the league even topped 200.... Future Hall of Famers Addie Joss and Cy Young combined for 302 strikeouts that year, and each was at the top of his game."
    (Levy, pp. 147-148; italics in original.)

    And that's not even to mention his unspeakable violence towards everyone....mostly women!! *Argh*...
    Last edited by csh19792001; 12-29-2013, 03:57 PM.

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  • Fuzzy Bear
    replied
    Waddell, a remarkably dominant strikeout pitcher in an era when batters mostly slapped at the ball to get singles, had an excellent fastball, a sharp-breaking curve, a screwball, and superb control (his strikeout-to-walk ratio was almost 3-to-1). He led the Major Leagues in strikeouts for six consecutive years.
    That doesn't sound like a mentally retarded person to me. An adult with severe ADHD or some other condition along the autism spectrum, maybe, but that's not a mentally retarded person.

    Today, of course, Rube Waddell would be lucky to get to a major league stadium with a ticket. He'd have been in so much trouble prior to age 18, he'd have been stuck in the juvenile justice system of his state, with little or no opportunity to play the kind of baseball he'd need to play in order to get his shot.

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  • csh19792001
    replied
    "Rube Waddell was THE most improbable person ever associated with Major League Baseball. In 1903, he began the year sleeping in a firehouse in Camden, New Jersey, and ended it tending bar in a saloon in Wheeling, West Virginia. In between those events, he won twenty-two {sic} games for the Philadelphia Athletics, played left end for the Business Men's Rugby Football Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, toured the nation in a melodrama called The Stain of Guilt, courted, married and became separated from May Wynne Skinner of Lynn, Massachusetts, saved a woman from drowning, accidentally shot a friend through the hand, and was bitten by a lion." -Lee Allen

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  • bluesky5
    replied
    Originally posted by Bigfoot 88 View Post
    ^I understand that drinking is a part of German culture, as well as moonshine, which was often made in apparatuses full of lead, being prevalent in the mountain communities. It is possible he had been drinking since he was very young which caused some sort of chemical imbalance.
    That's a good point bigfoot88!

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  • Bigfoot 88
    replied
    ^I understand that drinking is a part of German culture, as well as moonshine, which was often made in apparatuses full of lead, being prevalent in the mountain communities. It is possible he had been drinking since he was very young which caused some sort of chemical imbalance.
    Last edited by Bigfoot 88; 07-22-2013, 04:25 PM.

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  • bluesky5
    replied
    As someone who grew up in the Appalachian Mountains like Rube I can tell you that he would not have been especially privy to following other peoples rules and conforming to anyone's expectations. He was from an isolated part of the mountains. To give you a point of view of how isolated these communities can be... I was born in '88. My family [both sides] have records of when they arrived -- 1772 and 1763 both from Germany. I am only the second generation of my family that doesn't speak German [more commonly called PA dutch] as a first language. Everyone over the age of 60 where I live still speaks it -- 250 years later. These people are not and never were Amish or Menonite. The area is still very, very much German and clings to it's ideals of personal freedom and independence. People generally are unapologetic about who they are and act the same at all times. You don't get fake smiles and empty statements. People are stubborn. Taking advice from "experts" isn't a celebrated trait. There aren't near as many streamlined people fresh off the brainwashed consumer and political correctness conveyor belt.

    ^ And I'm just talking about people right now. In 2013.

    Now go back to the 1880's and imagine the level of isolation for Waddell. He had no TV, radio, newspaper, etc. to connect him with what was going on in cities or how "civilized people" acted. He was a mountain kid. He did what he wanted for 18 years. He hunted and fished and worked -- doing what he had to do to survive. When that was over he did what he wanted. Then he played baseball to survive. When the game was over he did what he wanted -- he got hammered drunk. He fell to the vices of fame and big city life which he was never prepared for. And it destroyed his life. I don't see any reason a mental disability needs to be responsible for his behavior -- it would be a nice story which I think is why many want to believe it. He was almost definitely stubborn, comparatively poorly educated, fiercely independent and completely out of his natural habitat. Fact is he was a raging alcoholic who beat people that could not fight back -- women, in-laws -- and was totally obsessed with getting effed-up. He was a drug addict [alcohol is a drug]. There is nothing extraordinary about that. There is nothing to be celebrated there. It is nothing to make excuses for. I doubt Rube made any apologies or excuses.
    Last edited by bluesky5; 07-22-2013, 01:27 PM.

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  • Dalkowski110
    replied
    I was once diagnosed by a quack who my parents thought they were saving money by going to as having Asperger's. Turns out I have nothing wrong in the realm of mental health, but rather an extremely rare neurological disease that I have since controlled with medication, by seeing a competent doctor (a neurologist, at that, not a psychologist...Mom and Dad were THIS close to suing the guy). However, my insatiable curiosity as to what Asperger's really was not being fulfilled; I decided to do some research on it. While I don't think I can do much help to people with the disorder, I do know enough about it to say that Waddell did NOT have it. If he did, two of the symptoms would have manifested themselves that did not show with Waddell. He would've made patterns, distinct ones, with any and all things he came into contact with. Shapes that appealed to him for example, he would've arranged out of whatever trinkets he had. He wouldn't have been able to help it, nor would he notice it himself, although it would be very noticable to others. Another symptom absent from Waddell but common in Asperger's patients is a fixation on a topic to talk about; usually something the sufferer likes. Waddell didn't obsessively talk about just ONE subject, and there are no records of him having done so. Another thing that makes me doubt that Waddell had Asperger's is his low IQ...generally, Asperger's sufferers have high IQ's (in fact, that was the main reason Dr. [Unnamed] decided to label me a sufferer...I had an IQ of 183, having since slid to 169 since my disorder's been acting up). I would not call Rube Waddell a man of high IQ. A better, far more plausible diagnosis based on what I've seen is borderline retardation combined with suffering from high functioning autism (HFA). HFA does not equal Asperger's, and Asperger's is only one type of HFA. From wikipedia...

    "[T]he most significant difference between Autistic Disorder (Kanner's) and Asperger's syndrome is that a diagnosis of the former includes the observation of 'delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2) language as used in social communication, or (3) symbolic or imaginative play', while a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome observes 'no clinically significant delay' in the latter two of these areas."

    When did Waddell develop his language as social communication and symbolics and/or imaginitive play skills? We may never know. However, from all of the accounts, he was VERY childlike with regards to his behavior not just socially, but also what would fall under symbolic or imaginative play. Waddell was easily distracted by puppies or shiny toys, for example, something not fitting the mould of an Asperger's sufferer.

    Just my .02, along with trying to get the thread back on track.

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  • janduscframe
    replied
    http://www.newspaperabstracts.com/link.php?id=27243

    I perhaps posted this before? In this article he comes across as an ordinary naive boy of his time. But who knows if one can trust the words of Uncle Billy? Gotta remember, even though we can look at these old photos of these so called old men, we're still talking naive little boys of 20 or so.Remember how naive and foolish you were in your teens and twenties?
    Did you ever do something to draw attention to yourself? Mix in a few drinks and what were you like?

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  • Brian McKenna
    replied
    also questionable about sportswriters is their relationship with the clubs - the clubs fed them and paid for their transportation and it was common for the writers to receive expense gifts at christmas from the club owners - i'm sure the perks i've listed are in no way comprehensive

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  • Brian McKenna
    replied
    that's a great perspective paul and probably one that sorely needs to be made - old sportswriters have such a commanding influence on how we view baseball history - i personally feel that as a whole they were full of it and usually just took the easy road by repeating old legends and making up others

    we have to view them as we do broadcasters now, that is, they had to say something (perhaps sensational) all the time to maintain their jobs - the more they kept saying things and perpetrating common perceptions, the more it became fact whether warranted or not - it is the modern day historians that need to rise above the gossip, misinformation and skewed viewpoint that the media presented

    baseball is full of commonly believed perceptions that may not be so:
    how dumb was joe jackson?
    was cobb psycho? plus a million more about cobb
    was ruth perpetually out of control?

    fans are easily led - they believe what they are told by the boob tube - a review of baseball history, in my opinion, will show one b.s. story after another - in fact, if it is a commonly held perception today, you can bet that it is at least 90% exaggerated or mitigated and surely it is way out of the long ago contemporary historical context

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  • paulproia
    replied
    Arm injury...

    By 1910, Rube was drinking more frequently than he had - mostly to avoid another bad idea marriage to a nineteen year old who was trying to hoist some off of Rube's fame. St. Louis was a tough city for Rube. When he was with the A's, Ossie Schreckongost was familiar with all the bars and by bringing Rube along they got a lot of free beverages.

    Anyway, after the injury, the Browns finally let him pitch at the end of July - he won his last start, proving that he still had something left, and he was dispatched to Newark. He pitched very well at Newark, and was still reasonably effective for at least one year in Minneapolis in 1911. The next spring he caught pneumonia during spring training, and never really recovered.

    Paul

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  • paulproia
    replied
    Rube and his behavior...

    I recently completed a biography about Rube - trying to find a publisher. One thing that I focused on was how much of Rube's life was ridiculously exaggerated... Many of the stories told about Rube were written well after he was dead, likely exaggerated, mistread all over all of the facts, and in some cases never really happened. He was so goofy that people could make up stuff about him and people would believe it.

    What do we really know?

    1) His dad was actually a very stable person. He once ran for a local government post, held a stable job for a long time, was married for more than 50 years to the same woman, was very protective of his son, and was a baseball player of modest talent himself.

    2) Rube actually finished school - he was still attending classes until he finished high school. He went to two different academies after high school, but probably didn't attend a single class the second time (Volant). Now - I'm not saying he graduated at the top of his class, but he had the ability to read and write, do math, and understood - at some level - the magnitude of his fame.

    3) His drinking problem likely surfaced while in Chicago. Pittsburgh/Louisville management regularly went out of their way to say he didn't have a drinking problem.

    4) And it's not like he was desperate for a drink. He just lacked the ability to stop when he started. As I see it, he saw things as fun and not fun - and didn't have the capacity to understand the ramifications of fun. He could go long stretches of time without touching liquor.

    5) What he really lacked was a sense of basic responsibility. He married three times, but had no idea how to be a husband and made at least two lousy choices in terms of his wives. He couldn't pay bills because he couldn't remember basic obligations. He knew what to do at the time he had to do it, he could retain some information, but he frequently couldn't act on it.

    6) Paying Rube in small amounts started before Mack. Barney Dreyfuss did it first.

    7) He learned how to throw just about every pitch. He threw as hard as anyone, and could make a pitch move in just about any direction - and sharply.

    8) Ossie Schreckongost was really along for the ride. As soon as his drinking got in the way, and Rube was punished differently for being drunk when the two went out drinking, Ossie was probably Rube's harshest critic.

    9) Rube's inability to manage basic responsibilities contributed to his demise - he couldn't stay in his bed long enough to recover and didn't know how to take medicine correctly.

    10) If he was so retarded, why would people give him jobs managing money, driving boats, and what not?

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  • strike123
    replied
    I like your line of thought

    I agree with those who suspect Asperger's. It may indeed be possible that Rube had some form of autistic disorder. It is important to remember when thinking of individuals with autism that the symptoms are not always identical between individuals. This would explain the confusion regarding the diagnostic lables. For example, a large percentage of people having this disorder have significant impairments in motor skills (Between 50 to 90 percent) and would therefore not likely be able to perform well in sports activities, while others are able to perform normally in athletic activities. Also, some with Asperger's are able to use language quite well and some tend to struggle a lot more with it, falling closer to those in the category of more severe autism. while there are a lot of similarities between these individuals, there may be many differences. It never seems to affect everyone in exactly the same way. There is in fact a 13 year old pitcher in the Babe Ruth league in Auburn, NY who is high functioning austistic or Asperger's. It is quite questionable whether this boy would ever be able to perform at the professional level, but he has done pretty well for himself in the youth league. Autistic or not, when a coach has needed someone to take the mound and get hitters out or simply get someone on the mound who wasn't going to walk the ballpark, they've called upon this young man, and found that he could, more often than not, get the job done.
    Last edited by strike123; 07-07-2006, 10:55 PM.

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  • WJackman
    replied
    I read the Waddell biography a few years ago. I seem to recall that it wasn't bad but it must not have made that much of an impression for I don't have any vivid flashbacks about it, something I usually can do on good baseball books. The author is the same one who did the recent McFarland biography of Joe McCarthy.

    Here is an interesting tidbit about the end of Waddell's major league career. On May 10, 1910, Eddie Cicotte hit Waddell with a pitch (Sporting Life of 5/21/1910). Waddell was a righty batter so it was his exposed left pitching arm that was hit. It was a very bad injury and initial reports were that Rube's elbow had been shattered. Those reports proved inaccurate for there was no fracture (Sporting Life 6/4/1910), but Waddell was out of action for a long time and never was effective again in the big, though he did have a couple of good seasons subsequently at the minor league level.

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