Lutzke: Rube Waddell showed signs of success and eccentricity as a minor-leaguer in Michigan

From SABR member Mitch Lutzke at Tigers History on February 12, 2020:

An argument could be made that he is the best pitcher unknown by casual fans. This Hall of Famer played with Detroit and Grand Rapids as a minor leaguer before making his name in the majors as a young phenom. Known for his childish antics and mercurial moods, he graced two Michigan ball diamonds over a century ago.

George Edward “Rube” Waddell was elected by the Veterans Committee in 1946 to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He posted a career record of 193-143 with a 2.16 ERA, and for a seven-year period (1902- 1908) was a dominating hurler, leading the league in strikeouts six times, including in 1904 with 349. His best season may have been in 1905, when he went 27-10 with a 1.48 ERA, struck out 287 batters and posted a WHIP of 0.977. His manager during most of this timespan, Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics, believed he was possibly the greatest pitcher he had ever seen. During his peak, Waddell pitched with tremendous speed, near perfect control, and featured an unhittable curveball.

Unfortunately, Waddell’s mound success was often overshadowed by his off-field antics.

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Originally published: February 13, 2020. Last Updated: February 13, 2020.