The Professional Pitcher Who Would Go Fishing Mid Game

Samuel Reason | July 31st, 2018

George Edward Waddell or Rube as he was known, was a professional pitcher who played in Major League Baseball for 13 years from 1897 to 1910 and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946. An amazing player, who had some very strange quirks: notably that he may just walk off mid-game to go fishing.

Born in Pennsylvania, he was an American southpaw pitcher that had an amazing control of the ball: excellent fastball, screwballs, and sharp breaking curveballs. The part that really made him stand out was that he dominated the pitching game and held the highest strikeouts for six consecutive years, all during a time when the meta of the game saw batters mostly hit for singles and not home runs. He was remembered for being very unpredictable and a little strange.

In fact, during the offseason, he would wrestle alligators and there are even reports of him being fascinated by fire trucks. A record shows he ran off the field to chase after firetrucks during the games. Unfortunately, this may have been connected with his alcoholism, with his first paycheck going into an immense binging contest. Though others believe he may have been suffering from a developmental disability, autism or attention deficit disorder. All things that at the time, no one knew very much about. His teammates always described him as childlike and eccentric, always wanting the management to trade him when they could no longer deal with him.

During Ken Burns’ baseball documentary it even surfaced that Rube had lost track of the number of women he had married. Fans even knew about his behavior, bringing puppies and shiny objects to the games which were known to distract him. It is funny how eccentric regular seems to run with greatness, because despite everything and his substance abuse, Rubel still holds the AL single-season strikeout record for a left-hand pitcher.

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