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The greatest baseball personality in the years before Babe Ruth, Rube Waddell lived an amazing life both on the field and off the field.


On the field, Waddell struck out eight batters per nine innings at a time when the best pitchers rarely fanned more than four per nine.  He threw every pitch – he threw as hard as anybody of his era, as well as a baffling assortment of curves and change ups.  He pitched the Athletics to the American League pennant twice and was the first pitcher to fan 300 batters under the modern rules (60′ 6″ from rubber to plate and the foul strike rule).  He owned the single game strikeout record, the single season strikeout record, and for a while held the record for most consecutive innings pitched without allowing a run.  He even outdueled Cy Young over 20 innings once to get a win over Boston.

But it was what he did off the field (or on the way to the park) that kept him in the news – on any page of the paper – every other day of the year.  A fan might see him on stage, tending bar (or drinking heavily), wrestling alligators, putting out fires, or saving cities from floods.  His marriages were disasters – and the last two ended in nationally covered divorces.

Rube had issues with maturity; he couldn’t pay rent and he couldn’t dependably show up on time for games.  In many cases, he would leave the team and pitch in semi-pro games or work wild west shows when he should have been available to pitch or attending practice.  Rube’s off-field exploits and child-like behavior became the stuff of legend – and over the years the craziest stories were told about Rube.

The problem, of course, is that memories fade over time – and many of the stories told about Rube were rehashed in the 1940s when Bob Feller challenged Rube’s single season strikeout record.  Much of what you may have heard about Rube is fiction or exaggerations of what really happened.

In “Just a Big Kid: The Life and Times of Rube Waddell”, Paul Proia looks back at what was written about Rube when he was alive, getting to the truth and adding color to the myths or correcting details of the legend.

If you want to hear me discuss the book with Joe Magennis of, give us a listen!  (Then, go buy the book!)

Order direct from the author and pay just $20, which includes the cost of shipping.  You’ll save nearly $15 (the list price is $29.99, plus shipping and handling) and get the book personalized for your collection, or the collection of your favorite baseball fan!

4 thoughts on “Buy My Book!

  1. Paul .. really enjoying the book. It’s great reading during these off days in the playoffs!

    A couple of things have immediately jumped out at me.

    One we already are well aware of, but it is still amazing to encounter .. the number of innings the pitchers in those days pitched. Yikes! How can any pitcher of the day withstand that much of a workload? What does it say about today’s hurlers who still break down.

    Also, it seems like there were 3 – 4 errors at least each game! Rube would be needing some fielding help to get out of a jam and his defense would let him down. No wonder he’d get a bit fired up at times. I would have to assume that the gloves they used contributed greatly to this problem.

    Loving it. Anyone interested in a great story about the game should get this book!

    • Joe,

      Thanks for your kind words!

      The workload was helped, I think, by two things. First, pitchers didn’t throw their hardest stuff back then. Christy Matthewson wrote about it in “Pitching in a Pinch” – save your best stuff for when you need it. So, while the average pitcher today is firing 60 fastballs at 90MPH, I don’t think that Rube would throw 10 that hard back then in a game.

      Second, I think that because the game ended so much more quickly (strike zones were a bit bigger, no commercial breaks, fewer middle inning pitching changes), I think that helps keep pitchers healthy. Let me ask you this – what is harder on an arm? Throwing as hard as you can every 30 seconds with 15 minute to 30 minute breaks between innings, or throwing every ten seconds – maybe 2 – 4 MPH slower, but with greater control – and waiting six to ten minutes between innings?

      The guys who work quickly I think are more durable. Get in there and fire.

      The gloves of today DEFINITELY help fielders. And, players are in better shape, so they cover more ground. Look at that glove that Rube is wearing in one of his early photos. I don’t think I could catch 9 thrown balls in ten wearing that thing.

      Have a great World Series!


  2. I’m currently reading your book on Waddell. I noticed that you have him with a nearly 56 inn scoreless streak in 1905, but the sources I’ve seen all show it as being about a dozen innings shorter. Do you happen to have a game log of the streak? I’m at Thanks, Trent

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