Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Legendary Rube Waddell and Connie Macks A's in Montgomery

On this date in 1906, Montgomery will welcome the first players as Connie Mack brings his Philadelphia Athletics to town as they begin spring training. The Mackmen are the reigning American League Champions, having lost the World Series to the New York Giants the previous fall.
Cornelius MacGillicudy, aka Connie Mack


Lefties Rube Waddell and Eddie Plank are the star pitchers for the A's, along with Chief Bender and Jack Coombs the Philadelphia team is stocked well with arms bound for the HOF. Rube Wadell is the best drawing pitcher of the American League from 1900-1910, his 349 strikeouts are still the single season record by a lefthander in the AL.
Athletics at World Series 1905

The batting side is populated by catcher Ossie Schrecongost, he is the Rube's roommate - Ossie recently held out during contract negotiations until his agreement included a clause stipulating that Rube would no longer eat crackers in bed. Seriously.

Harry Davis and Danny Murphy on the right side of the infield at first and second base, respectively. On the left its SS Monte Cross and 3b John Knight. The outfield is Topsy Hartsel, Socks Seybold and Bris Lord.

Rube Oldring
Rookie Eddie Collins is among the hopefuls in spring training, on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Another young ballplayer, Rube Oldring, is getting a chance at making the majors with the A's after playing for Montgomery the previous season.

Art Brouthers

The player in camp the folks in Montgomery are pulling for the hardest could be Art Brouthers.

Brouthers is a Montgomery native who has played his way up the chain the past few seasons in Bham, Shreveport, New Orleans and last year for his hometown Montgomery Senators.

Brouthers will make the team, and on April 14th he will play his first MLB game.

However his last MLB game will be in June. Oh well, you win some you lose some.


Portrait of George Waddell
Rube Waddell is the star of the A's for his childlike mentality and unusual antics, as well as his incredible pitching ability.

Rube Waddell's stay in Montgomery is in some ways microcosm of the legend of the Rube. Certainly some of the most endearing and amazing stories either happened or were repeated during his stay here.

Rube is known as Rube and more than any other player with the nickname Rube is Rube.
Known to chase fire engines and wrestle alligators, Waddell is a fearless giant who led the AL with his 1.45 ERA last year but missed pitching in the World Series due to a shoulder injury from horseplay over a straw hat. Some wondered if gamblers paid Rube to sit out the series.

In Montgomery, his acts fuel the legend that is the Rube.
wrestled alligators

Waddell is on his way to the practice field one morning, likely the concrete enclosure that would later become Cramton Bowl, when he encountered a group of people gathered around a horsecart stuck in the streetcar tracks. The cart was stuck fast, noone could move it and the streetcar system was becoming snarled due to the blockage.

Rube stepped forward from the crowd and pulled the wagon off the tracks himself to the cheers of the onlookers.

In a game during spring in Montgomery, Rube Waddell was pitching when a hot liner was hit back through the pitchers box. Wadell snared the ball barehanded, just before it would have hit the umpire in the head. Folks said Rube saved the officials life, the umpire standing behind the pitcher was common in games with only one ump.

wore red undershirt for luck
Another classic Rube Waddell moment occurred when a fire broke out on Decatur Street. Rube always unable to resist following a fire brigade when he heard sirens, dashed out into the street to follow the sound of the sirens. Once he located them, he donned a helmet and grabbed a hose to help douse the blaze. The locals were reportedly impressed, but Rube had already helped put out fires in Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Washington and other major cities.

But Rube was in town to train, Connie Mack was going to make sure they didnt have another spring anywhere near Mardi Gras (dont ask!). Waddell had been on his best behavior over the previous winter, after the shoulder injury might have cost the team the World Series, all Rube had done was hunt and fish before showing up to camp about twenty five pounds too heavy. For manager Connie Mack, it was the best he could hope for and he set about getting the Rube in shape.
Won a 20 inning duel with Cy Young

One of the tricks used by Mack on the Rube was to make him Ball Captain. Any player who needed a ball had to see Rube. Rube liked the idea, as he had been known to offer any old baseball to a bar as "The Ball I beat Cy Young With" for an unlimited drink tab. However Rube didnt realize that it also meant keeping up with all the foul balls, the star pitcher chasing every stray foul and climbing walls to retrieve balls hit over the fences.

Rube started getting annoyed and giving the stinkeye to teammates who seemed to foul off a few more than usual. For Connie Mack, making Rube run around during practice was a good way to get the moody ace into shape.

wont pitch if he can watch a parade
Waddell was always prone to having fun and enjoyed Montgomery as it offered some new experiences. On the second day of practice, rain canceled the outdoor events and the team found themselves with nothing to do. Rube found an indoor roller skating rink near the team hotel and soon the Athletics were on wheels for the first time. There were some concerns about injury, the large players whizzed around madly and seemed to figure it out pretty quickly, though not before causing a little havoc!


Rube found trouble where trouble wasn't and sometimes trouble found him. In Montgomery Rube was walking on Bell Street when he was knocked on the head and had $40 cash taken from him.
Friends found him and he was taken and treated, but Connie Mack wasn't convinced. Connie Mack paid Rube in small amounts to lessen Rubes ability to drink and gamble in excess.

Mack may have felt Rube had spent the money and was after more to continue binging on the Montgomery nitelife.

gets mad if someone eats more oysters than him
While in Montgomery Rube perfected a new pitch - his "Slowball" was a knuckle-changeup that included a wild horse laugh. Intended to disrupt the hitters concentration, the crowd loved it.

Waddell loved fresh gulf seafood, and was known to eat up to six dozen raw oysters in a sitting.

1 comment:

Tom Shieber said...

You might be interested in this story about Rube Waddell: