Let’s admit it. There are times we get excited when we see things we love or enjoy. But can you imagine a hall of fame pitcher getting so giddy about pups?
American baseball player Rube Waddell was so fond of puppies that the opposing team’s fans would bring their dogs to the game to distract him. So he would run over to them and play with the dogs instead of focusing on the game.
Who is Rube Waddell?
George Edward “Rube” Waddell was born on October 13, 1876, in Pennsylvania, just outside Bradford. He grew up in the country and was known to be a peculiar child.
Waddell would do behave quite oddly. For example, he would wander off and stay at the local fire station for several days. And he did not attend school as often as expected.
He honed his skill in pitching by throwing rocks at birds as a child and by working manual jobs on his family’s land. Further conditioning included mining and drilling at worksites when he was a youngster. (Source: National Baseball Hall of Fame)
How Did Waddell’s Career in Baseball Start?
Waddell went through several teams in his formative years playing. He was pretty unpredictable. Even if he did have the skills to play well, his peculiar behavior did affect how the team worked.
Despite this, his first professional contract was signed with Louisville. He pitched for two league games and did a couple of exhibition games with the team. After the season ended, he was loaned to the Detroit Tigers to train.
His experience with Detroit wasn’t perfect. He got fined by the team owner, George Vanderbeck, and was also late on rent. So he chose to leave the Tigers and pitch for Canada.
Waddell eventually returned to Pennsylvania to pitch for a semi-pro baseball team there, but Pittsburgh retained his rights and was lent to the Western League in 1899.
He debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates by 1900. They were known to be the leading National League at the time. But because of his erratic behavior, Fred Clarke, the manager, suspended Waddell. (Source: National Baseball Hall of Fame)
How Peculiar Was Rube Waddell?
Growing up, Waddell’s behavior was often dismissed. As he got older, he still acted quite erratically, which affected his professional career, and he would often be transferred to different teams because of it.
He would often leave in the middle of the game for strange reasons like; needing to chase trucks or go fishing. Waddell would also disappear for several months, and his team would find him wrestling alligators in the circus.
Fans of the opposing team found out about his quirks, that they started bringing their dogs to the game to distract him. They would hold up their dogs, and he would run right over to play with them. (Source: National Baseball Hall of Fame)
What Was Wrong with Rube Waddell?
Bill James, a baseball historian, and statistician suggested that Waddell suffered from undiagnosed learning disabilities. It is assumed that he was within the autism spectrum or had attention deficit disorder. This would easily explain his oddity altogether. (Source: Bleacher Report)
What Happend to Rube Waddell?
By 1913, Waddell’s health started to decline after catching pneumonia. He was no longer as muscular as he once was. He was later on diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Waddell moved in with his sister in San Antonio, Texas. He never recovered and passed away on April 1, 1914, at the young age of 37. (Source: National Baseball Hall of Fame)