Goldman: The pitcher’s wife danced

From SABR member Steven Goldman at The Hardball Times on January 15, 2019:

Lefty Don Rudolph was not a particularly good pitcher, going 18-32 with a 4.00 ERA in scattered trials with four teams from 1957 to 1964. If his pitching was praised at all, it was for his quick habits on the mound rather than his stuff—he endeavored to work fast, in one start averaging just six seconds between pitches. And yet he had more notoriety than was commensurate with his status as a fringe big leaguer. It wasn’t any quality of his, but rather the fact of his home life, a detail the scribes could never forget, not for a second.

Consider one of the most common transactions in baseball, a pitcher being sent to the minor leagues. Here is an example from 2018, via MLB Trade Rumors. It begins, “The Astros have optioned righty Ken Giles to Triple-A, per a club announcement.” The details that follow that topic sentence tell the reader many things: who is replacing Giles on the roster, how the Astros acquired Giles, how he has pitched lately—all salient information.

Here is how an article on Rudolph being subjected to the identical transaction began: “The Reds have optioned Lefty Don Rudolph to [Triple-A] Havana. He’s the husband of Patti Waggin, the burlesque stripper.” Similarly, Rudolph game stories don’t read like any other pitcher’s game stories, then or now. Rudolph pitched for the White Sox against the Yankees during spring training in 1958. Patti Waggin entered the story before he did:

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Originally published: January 17, 2019. Last Updated: January 17, 2019.