Rube Waddell died at age 37 in 1914 (on April Fool's Day) from a severe cold he contracted after standing for hours in icy waters up to his armpits, placing sandbags in advance of rising waters from a broken dam. On Thursday, April 2, 1914, the Milwaukee Sentinel ran the following R.B. Pixley poem:
They tell me Rube Waddell is dead—
Well — he was a game old scout—
The kind that fights till the last ball's pitched
And the umpire says: "You're out!"
The man on the first wire says the news
Just came in from San Antone—
Well — the game has lost a big league star,
And as good as league could own.
You see, I followed the Rube for years
And gloried in his skill
The way a fellow who just falls short
Of athletic prowess will;
I watched the box scores day by day
And looked for the bottom line—
The names of the sluggers topped each list,
But I picked the Rube's for mine,
And I counted the number of times at bat
And the number of strikeouts there
I wasn't afraid to reckon up,
For I knew that the Rube was there.
I followed the Rube in his palmy days,
When he mowed them down like wheat,
And I clung to those memories when the ways
Of the swift pace had him beat;
And when the big leagues turned him loose,
And now that he's answered the final call,
I never could think, and I can't think now
Of Rube Waddell in minor ball.
So do me a favor, you men who write
Of the stars who rule this age;
When you write the story of Rube Waddell,
Let charity turn the page
Which tells of the times when the Rube went bad
And lost to John Barleycorn.
For if ever man's life was a written book
Many pages of each would be torn;
Just recall the days when he stood out there
And battled a howling mob—
Just tell of the days when the Rube was right
And you'll say he was on the job;
The Rube was a man in his build and strength,
But at heart he was only a child,
And the best of the children of men are weak
And the best may grow reckless and wild.
Well — the man on the first wire says the news
Just came that the Rube was out;
Let it go as it lays, for the game is fair...
But...the Rube was a game old Scout!
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