If you followed baseball as the 19th century became the 20th, you knew his name. Cy Young was great. Christy Mathewson was becoming a superstar. But if you argued that Rube Waddell was the best in the game, you’d have plenty of support. He couldn’t stay married. He chased fire trucks, was easily distracted and drank a lot. But when Waddell was on the mound, good things generally happened.
Now, a photo showing the Hall of Fame pitcher posing in a suit for a photo during the height of his fame is among the headline items in RMY Auctions’ April catalog. The 4 1/2″ x 6 1/4″ original image shows Waddell at age 29, during a year in which he won a pitching Triple Crown, leading the American League in wins (27), strikeouts (287) and ERA (1.48).
The silver gelatin image is remarkably clear and was originally utilized by a newspaper.
It’s among over 500 photos in the online catalog, with bidding set to run through April 14.
Waddell would live only eight more years, dying of tuberculosis at age 37. While his career numbers may pale in comparison to other Hall of Famers, Waddell’s dominance was unquestioned during his relatively brief time in the big leagues.
A year before the photo was taken, Waddell had struck out 349 batters. It was the second straight year he’d topped 300, a feat that would go unmatched until Sandy Koufax did it in the mid-1960s.