This fellow was a fine defensive third baseman with five Gold Gloves to show for his work. He was a wild, eccentric, fun-loving guy who was also a little bit crazy. He received the nickname, the “Red Rooster.” In a sport where players routinely make millions of dollars, this guy would arm-wrestle you for twenty dollars. He made Nolan Ryan look kinky. One time when Houston Astros’ teammate, Norm Miller, and his wife paid an unannounced visit to Rader’s house, Doug answered the door completely naked.
Once while being interviewed for television by Jim Bouton, Doug Rader advised all Little League players to eat their bubble gum cards along with the gum. He said that if they ate the cards and digested the information, they would become better ballplayers. “Bubble-gum cards are very good for a Little Leaguer’s diet,” said Rader. Another time, Doug said, “They should only eat the cards of the good ballplayers. Say you have a kid whose 5-foot-1 inches tall, tell him to eat a Willie McCovey card. Willie’s 6 foot 4. The kid may grow. You never can tell.” Rader went on during the interview, “Have them eat the bases and home plate, and they’ll play better.” Doug Rader played for the Houston Astros from 1967-1975. He recorded his first big league hit in his first at-bat. He became known for his off-field antics around the world. Doug would use the Astros’ locker room as a driving range, teeing up a golf ball, while guys were diving for cover in their lockers, behind trunks and under the whirlpool. His teammates prayed they would not get hit, as golf balls ricocheted around the room. Astros’ pitcher Larry Dierker, was asked why nobody took Rader’s golf clubs away. “’Cause they wanted to live,” responded Dierker.