Rube Waddell entered this world on Friday the 13th and exited it on April Fools Day. In the intervening years, he struck out more batters, drove more managers nuts, and attracted more fans than any pitcher of his day.  Only 87 games remained on the A's schedule when Waddell pitched his first game on June 26, 1902, yet the left-hander finished the season with 24 wins. The Athletics, only two games above .500 when Rube entered the fray, finished 30 games above the break-even mark and won their first American League pennant.

     Waddell established himself as one of the game's premier pitchers and Philadelphia's most bankable star. The A's attendance doubled and cigars, soap, and whiskey were named after Rube. In 1904 Waddell registered a 1.62 ERA and struck out 349 batters,   still the most by an American League southpaw and remarkable since strikeouts were rare in the Dead Ball Era. The 1905 season   was even better for Waddell. He led the AL in strikeouts, ERA (1.48) and wins, his most spectacular a 20-inning contest against Cy Young on the Fourth of July.

     Never one to stay in and put his feet up, when he wasn’t on the rubber he could be found performing on vaudeville, wrestling alligators, chewing live snakes, riding an ostrich, or jumping out a second floor window.  "Dad always had a gleam in his eye when he told stories about him," said Connie Mack's daughter. "Dad really loved the Rube."


    It's the best time ever in America. The booze is flowing, the flappers are frisky, and you can make a killing on the market. Things don't look so good for the Yankees though. One pitcher is dying and another one's afraid his wife (the "Tiger Lady") may kill him. Their catcher and third baseman are banged up, the shortstop leads the league in errors, and the second baseman has seizures.

    The Babe's still smarting from the president accusing him of letting down the youth of America during his disastrous '25 season, when his carousing was a major factor in the Yanks' seventh-place finish. Getting caught stealing to end the '26 Series didn't help his popularity either. He's 32 (though he believes he's 33) and hasn't hit fifty homers in five years. It's looks as though superhuman Lou Gehrig will be the new darling of Yankee fans. And to make things worse - the Babe's arch-rival is after his girl!


     As a teenager, confident, charismatic Ed Delahanty leaves no doubt that he’s the most outstanding player on the sandlots of Cleveland, but he’s subjected to the same persecution as his fellow immigrants from the Emerald Isle and bristles when he reads the signs that say, ”No dogs or Irish allowed” and hears names like “bog trooter” and  “green nigger.”

     Del struggles in his first three years in “the big league.” After floundering in the infield he’s finally given a chance to display his strong arm and blazing speed in the outfield. He begins to hit to all fields with remarkable power, striking fear in the hearts of enemy fielders who now wear gloves and twirlers who still don’t. With his carefree manner and handsome features he becomes a favorite of the Philly rooters. He escorts lovely women, including a vivacious model, to opera houses where he’s eyed jealously by his boyhood tormentors.

     Del adjusts to the myriad changes in the rules of baseball. Players can no longer ‘kick’ against an umpire’s calls with impunity nor instruct the twirler where they want the ball pitched, but the home base is no longer a round metal plate that’s painful to slide across and now you’re allowed to overrun first base. He steadily climbs the National League rankings, but suffers under the yoke of the imperious and tight-fisted Phillies’ owner, Colonel Rogers, and is paid a fraction of what he deserves. Del makes up for it with his uncanny skill and luck in gambling, sometimes raking in more in a week at the track than he earns for an entire season on the diamond. He’ll need the money, his gorgeous and amorous young bride aspires to a life of glamor. Men’s eyes are nailed to her when Del takes Norine to glittering parties and swank hotels, restaurants, and resorts. He’s on top of the world, oblivious to the cruel fate that awaits him.


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