Friday, October 7, 2016

Trump v. Rube Waddell: The Groper Meets the Baseball Hero


Not all male "stars" are as evil as Donald Trump. In fact, at a time such as this—when major league baseball playoffs, the political season, hurricane floods, and Halloween all meet— one's mind turns to the ghost of Rube Waddell. Or at least mine does. Yesterday the despicable Donald Trump died politically. One hundred and two years ago a true hero and baseball legend died. 

Meet Rube Waddell!

 Waddell is the antidote to Trump—a decent man, a hero, and a baseball legend but, strangely, also a sort of ancestor to Trump, as you shall see. He was also the funniest man ever in all of baseball.

He didn't try to be funny; he couldn't help it. He was, in fact, an amazing player. In 1900 he pitched 17 innings in the first game of a double-header for Milwaukee, winning in the 17th inning on his own triple. His manager, Connie Mack, offered Waddell a three-day fishing vacation if he agreed to pitch the second game, which had been shortened to 5 innings. Waddell threw 5 scoreless innings for the victory, and headed to Pewaukee Lake for fishing.

He is rightly in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he should rightly be in other halls of fame as well, having saved a woman from drowning and also having twice helped save the town of Hickman, Kentucky, during spring training in two consecutive years.  In his flood-rescue efforts, he caught pneumonia both times. This weakened his lungs so badly that he got tuberculosis and died at only 37, having been disabled from baseball some while before that. Though denied high stats by his short life, he was included in the 1981 book by Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig,The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. You can also read more about him at Rube Waddell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and sources cited therein.

Now let's pit Donald Trump, the spoiled child of wealth against Waddell, a simple Pennsylvania farmboy of a very poor family.

Where are Trump's 17 innings of pitching? His triple in the clutches? His saving a town from flooding? His rescuing a woman from drowning? Isn't Trump the one who attacks a Miss Universe for being "fat" and calls women all kinds of names and brags about groping married ones?  Tape Reveals Donald Trump Bragging About Groping Women . Hasn't he taken advantage financially of 14-year-old girls? Trump Enslaves 14-year-old Models. Hasn't he lost a billion dollars of other people's money and stiffed his suppliers and workers? What has he ever done for anybody that was any good?


But strangely enough Donald Trump is a sort-of descendent of Rube Waddell. Here's how Wikipedia describes Waddell's best remembered characteristics: "Waddell was unpredictable — early in his career he left the mound mid-game to go fishing. He had a longstanding fascination with fire trucks and had run off the field to chase after them during games. He was easily distracted by opposing fans who held up puppies and shiny objects, which seemed to put him in a trance on the mound."

He was distractable and he was obsessive. One of the greatest ball players of all time was actually a sort of comic Donald Trump of baseball. Waddell had to chase a fire engine. Trump has to chase the same irrelevant topic night after night via twitter. Waddell was mesmerized by a puppy dog or a shiny object. Trump can't let go of rage about what some woman says about him. 

At least Waddell's "fatal attractions" were only fatal to a score on a field of sport. They weren't fatal like Trump's could be with nuclear codes and letting lots of nations have such weapons.  Or responding with war to some jerk in a little Iranian boat giving a US. destroyer the bird. (I kinda like that little harmless Iranian jerk. "Go for it, guy! You tell 'em!")

There was something wrong with Rube Waddell upstairs, but his heart was golden.

There's something wrong with Donald Trump upstairs, and he has no heart.

Waddell died a hero. Trump will never do anything for anybody, let alone be a hero.

Waddell helped save a Kentucky town. Trump would destroy our world in a nuclear holocaust or a scorchingly hot climate. 

Not all obsessives are funny. But let's hope that Trump quickly fades into history like a bad dream, while the legend of Rube Waddell goes on stirring our admiration and bringing smiles for another hundred years.

Meantime, I can't bear to even say "Goodbye, Donald Trump." I can't bear to wish him a good anything. He hurt people, including fourteen-year-old girls. An Irish curse be on him!  And now let's rejoice at this wonderful "October surprise".  The self-convicting boasting of Donald Trump!

NOTE:  I freely thank Wicked Pedia for its happy prose which I have borrowed. That's the magic of Waddell. He can turn even a Wikipedia writer into a good one and thereby corrupt the ethics of this Irish cop of a professor, luring me into borrowing W's text. Naughty me! Long live Waddell! By the way, Waddell is from Bradford, PA, a tiny town in the northernmost mountains of Pennsylvania. People say, "Bradford isn't in the middle of nowhere but you can see it from there." Rube's real name was George Edward Waddell, the nickname "Rube" coming from his being a big country boy just off the farm.  But he's made the name "Rube" glorious! I'm going to Bradford one of these days and see if the ghost of Rube Waddell ever comes into town from the family farm. Maybe I'll go on Halloween!

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