"You can’t make the club in the tub” means that you can’t make the team if you’re always injured (and in the tub because of injury). “You can’t make the club in the tub” has been cited in print since at least 1956, when it was a sign in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ clubhouse. The saying has also been very popular in professional football.
10 June 1956, New York (NY) Times, “‘Big Guy’ At Pittsburgh” by Charles Einstein, magazine section, pg. 207:
“YOU CAN T MAKE THE CLUB,” states a large, two-color sign, “IN THE TUB.”
7 March 1958, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Batting Around” by Harry Jones, pg. 32, col. 4:
Manager Bobby Bragan is not the type to post inspiring notices in the clubhouse, but he did post a dandy by the whirlpool bath. It reads: “You can’t make the club in the tub.”
Baseball Is a Funny Game
By Joe Garagiola
New York, NY: Bantam Books
The only sign I have ever seen is the one on the wall in the Pittsburgh clubhouse: YOU CAN’T MAKE THE CLUB IN THE TUB.
The Jim Plunkett Story:
The saga of a man who came back
By Jim Plunkett with Dave Newhouse
New York, NY: Arbor House
“Roger, you can’t make the club in the tub,” John said.
“Coach, you can’t take the field until you’re healed,” Hollywood Rog replied
They Call Me Dirty
By Conrad Dobler with Vic Carucci
New York, NY: Berkley Publishing Group
There’s an old saying in the NFL: “You can’t make the club when you’re sittin’ in the tub.”
Starting and Closing:
Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year
By John Smoltz with Don Yaeger
New York, NY: HarperCollins
The number one golden rule in baseball is you can’t make the club in the tub, but I think I might be the first exception to that rule.
Giants’ Prince Amukamara: ‘You can’t make the club in the tub’
By Alex Raskin | CBSSports.com
August 26, 2012 1:33 pm ET
That’s one reason why Amukamara, the star of the team’s recent “Ice Bath” YouTube clip fiasco, is in a hurry to get better. “You get banged up and I know the saying is ‘You can’t make the club in the tub,’” he said. “I’ve been in the tub enough. So I just have to hurry up and get out and do everything I can to help this team.”