I'm afraid Jack Lessenberry combined the apocryphal with the factual in his description of Rube Waddell ("The great deceivers," Sept. 23).
Rube's affinity for fighting fires is well-documented. However, I have not found one documented case in which he left a game in progress to chase a fire wagon.
On the assertion that "his contract had to spell out that he could not eat crackers in bed," this is one of the most frequently told stories about Waddell, but it is most likely an invention of Charles Dryden, a self-professed sports humorist of the time. Dryden wrote the cracker story a few seasons after it was supposed to have occurred, purportedly based on a letter from Rube's catcher, Osee Schrecongost. Years later, "Schreck" admitted that he and Dryden often conspired to embellish or fabricate some of the fanciful tales about Rube. The cracker story — later upgraded to Animal Cracker — became such a favorite story in Rube Waddell lore that even Connie Mack went along with it.
Rube pitched briefly for the major leagues in 1897 and 1899, and continuously from 1900 to 1910. He finished out the 1910 season in the minors and pitched three more seasons of minor league ball, including a 20-win season for the American Association champion Minneapolis Millers in 1911. But he never went on to "wrestle alligators for a living." The alligator-wrestling incident took place during the Philadelphia Athletics' 1902 spring training in Jacksonville, Florida. By the time Rube's baseball career ended, he had tuberculosis, and was not able to go on to anything, except to a sanitarium in San Antonio, Texas, where he died on April 1, 1914, at age 37. —Dan O'Brien, Greenwood, Ind., rubewaddell.net
But no-fault is OK?
I hope that your recent article regarding the proposed Democratic health care plan ("The great deceivers," Sept. 23) prompts your readers to give a little more thought to their support of the plan before they endorse it. What president should have the authority to require a young, healthy person to have health insurance? I certainly do not want a politician telling me what I need or must have. There is no provision of who will pay for the insurance. If you think the government will pay for it, remember who funds the government: you, me, your neighbor, and future generations. There is even a fine proposed if someone does not have health insurance. Many of the provisions you claim to be a benefit to Americans will increase the cost of health insurance. Simple supply and demand economics will increase the cost of health insurance when every citizen is required to purchase it. Then when everyone has health care insurance that will pay for doctor visits, the demand to visit a doctor will increase. How difficult will it become to make a doctor's appointment? Also, the small insurance companies that currently offer inexpensive health insurance to those without pre-existing conditions will no longer be able to offer such an inexpensive policy when they are required to insure all no matter what their illness is. It seems as though the brunt of the expense of this plan will be absorbed by the currently insured and those that are healthy enough not to need it. I agree with you that your readers should contact their representative, but not to endorse the plan. They should ask them why they are not putting themselves into the plan if they believe it is good for all citizens. —Stephen Ternullo, Macomb Twp.
Look it up! Ooh-yeah!
I just read Serene Dominic's article "Read It Out Loud!" (Sept. 16) about the 35th anniversary of KISS' Alive! record. (I even read through to "Let Me Go, Rock and Roll.") It was one of the most entertaining pieces I've read on our favorite masked hooligans in a long time. Dominic was protective, but not overprotective. He poked fun at things that should be poked fun of. And so what if he was a little liberal with the details? (I firmly believe that was code for "I don't know what the word ‘septuagenarians' means.") KISS' whole career has been about being a little loosey-goosey with the dirty detes. To me KISS is a band that can and should be enjoyed and ridiculed equally — by everyone. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to look up the word "septuagenarian." —Mark Lore, Portland, Ore., thedaysoflore.com
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