The pitcher who got players ejected through ventriloquism

The legend of Jack "Waddy" Wadsworth

January 6th, 2023
Art by Tom Forget

Over the last 150 years, there have been a number of baseball players who have used their unique, not-necessarily-baseball-related skillsets to assist them on the diamond.

Walter Carlisle, the former circus acrobat, turned an unassisted triple play from center field.

Rube Foster used his pipe-smoking abilities to deliver baserunning signs to his players.

Pat Venditte utilized his ambidexterity to become the first regularly appearing switch-pitcher in pro baseball history.

But one of the strangest, and, let's face it, coolest off-the-field talents was that of pitcher Jack "Waddy" Wadsworth.

You've probably never heard of Jack. He wasn't that great at baseball.

The right-hander pitched four seasons in the Majors (one for the Cleveland Spiders, one for the Orioles and another two for the Louisville Colonels), putting up a 6-38 record with a 6.85 ERA. He had over 100 more walks than strikeouts in his career. He even set a record for inefficiency during a game in 1894.

But even though Wadsworth couldn't get many batters out with his pitching, he could literally get them kicked out. Of games. Here's more from an in-depth profile on the Ohio native in the July 1952 edition of Baseball Digest.

"[Wadsworth's] real claim to fame rests upon the fact that he used ball games in which he pitched on various occasions for exercising his really eerie talents as a ventriloquist. Through the medium of that art, he caused more batsmen to be ejected from games than were ever ejected at other times and places."

Yes, like the great Edgar Bergen, Wadsworth would throw his voice from the pitcher's mound toward home plate to send hitters to the showers.

And according to Digest, Wadsworth picked certain opportune times to use his hidden talent. He'd wait for "tight spots" in the game or when "big hitters" were up to the plate. He once got "Big" Dan Brouthers tossed from a contest when he imitated a, for the late 19th-century at least, savage insult to umpire Tim Hurst.

"If you didn't squander your money on booze, your wife wouldn't have to take in washing."

Big Dan couldn't have been happy about that.

Another time, Wadsworth got future Hall of Famer Roger Connor, who was once the all-time home run leader before Babe Ruth took the title. Connor stepped into the box, looking to add on to his historic tater totals. But then, somehow, a scathing remark slipped from his mouth to umpire Hank O'Day without his lips even moving.

"Hank, you are a lot of things I'd hate to be."

Brutal.

O'Day, who's third all-time in umpire ejections, wasted no time in sending Connor packing.

Even Wadsworth's teammates didn't know he was throwing his voice. That is, until he appeared on a local church program as a ventriloquist act. And eventually, after one too many times, umpires became, as Digest put it, "hep" to Wadsworth's tricks. He didn't try it any longer.

But maybe it's something, more than 100 years later, teams can work with pitchers on this spring? Maybe every club should hire a team ventriloquist. Fastball's not what it used to be? Try throwing your voice to make Mike Trout call Dan Iassogna a nincompoop.

Aren't those the types of intangibles baseball scouts always talk about?