August 19th in 1900 Rube Waddell pitched two complete games in one day. This was amazing because in the first game, he pitched 17 innings. While the second game only lasted 5 innings, he did pitch all 22 innings of a double header allowing only 1 run.
While this is notable, it pales under the scope of who Rube Waddell really was. There was no doubt that he was one of the most talented pitchers who ever lived but I won’t bore you with statistics today. They are available to anyone who is interested. Of more interest is the fact that many people considered Rube Waddell mentally challenged. He had been known to leave games to follow a firetruck. Opposing fans would hold up puppy dogs and shiny objects as these items would occasionally put Rube into a trance like state. The stories about him have hit mythic proportions. On top of his personal challenges Rube was a lifelong alcoholic who would just leave the team to do something more interesting to him.
Cooperstown historian Lee Allen encapsulated Waddell’s erratic behavior:
“He began that year (1903) 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 22 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, accidently shot a friend through the hand, and was bitten by a lion.”
Rube Waddell holds the American League record for strikeouts in one season by left-handers. He, not surprisingly, died at the age of 37 and was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.