Sunday, June 10, 2012
This weird and tragic-looking dude, one of the greatest baseball pitchers ever, was known to leave the ballpark if he heard a siren outside and follow fire trucks to fires.
He also loved to fish and drink, but not necessarily in that order, and strikeouts. He led the majors in strikeouts for six straight seasons, and his single-season record of 349 K's stood until the sixties.
George Waddell, called Rube, pitched 13 years in the bigs, despite the fact that he suffered from some sort of developmental disability which rendered him extremely childlike, and was amplified by alcoholism.
Fans of opposing teams found that Waddell could be easily distracted if they held up shiny objects or puppies. He wrangled with managers and team mates, was traded several times due to his inability to function in adult relationships, despite his prodigious abilities, and drank himself out of the majors, then out of the minors, then to death, at age 37.
He remains one of the most puzzling enigmas of an enigmatic game, this simpleton nimrod from fin de siecle rural Pennsylvania who possessed a talent so great that nobody equaled it for decades.