Baseball historian and noted Rube Waddell expert, Dan O’Brien, emailed me this nugget about the Cubs purchase of Waddell…109 years ago to the date!
It’s good stuff. Enjoy!…
On this date 109 years ago (May 3, 1901), Chicago’s National League team purchased Rube Waddell from the Pirates. Contrary to a popular myth, the purchase price was not a box of cigars.
Early baseball history is often a blur of fact vs. fiction.
The case of HOF left-hander and former Cub, Rube Waddell, is no exception.
Luckily there are guys like Dan O’Brien, a well respected source on Waddell, who’ve dedicated countless hours to uncover the truths of baseball’s past.
My latest ‘Cubs History’ piece featured Waddell’s brief tenure with the Cubs. O’Brien was kind enough to fill me in on some slight inaccuracies with the post, and I’ve since updated the post accordingly. Below is a copy of his email to me.
I wonder if the Cubs–then known as the Orphans– had any idea what they lost by suspending left-hander Rube Waddell late in the summer of 1901?
Just seven months earlier Chicago acquired the 24-year-old from Pittsburgh, who in turn led the club in wins (14), ERA (2.81) and finished second on the staff in strikeouts (168).
But with the Cubs finishing the 1901 season 33-games below .500, perhaps the entire team was viewed expendable, including the future HOF Waddell, who ended up in the CALIFORNIA League the following season.
With a month left before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training I’m taking a look back at Cubs yesteryear.
This first post begins in 1901, the first season of the American League as we know it today, and a time in which the Cubs were still two years away from changing its nickname from Orphans to Cubs.
Aside from a slew of fancy names: Cupid, Topsy, Cozy, Jock, Germany, Rube and Mal, the Cubs weren’t much for winning or large crowds at the West Side Park — they finished fifth in the league in attendance (205,071), slightly better than its (53-86-1) sixth place finish in the eight-team National League.