Tag Archives: Babe Ruth

The Stress of Hank Aaron Breaking Babe Ruth’s All-Time Home Run Record

Before Breaking Ruth’s Record, Hank Aaron Had So Many Death Threats, He Had A Security Team Appointed To Protect Him

Willie Mays (l) and Hank Aaron at Shea Stadium June 3, 1972 – the two true #1 and #3 career home run leaders

Forty years ago today, on April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron, under incredible duress, hit his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.

Aaron finished his career in 1976 with 755 home runs and is now second all-time on the career home run list to Barry Bonds. In my mind and many others, Aaron is still the legitimate home run champion due to Bonds strange physical transformation in which his body became gargantuan and slugged more and more home runs as he aged.

What Aaron had to endure with the constant death threats and pressure is poignantly told in an excellent article by USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale which is reproduced below.

Hank Aaron has the letters tucked away in his attic, preserved these last 40 years. He’s not ready to let them go.

He almost has them memorized by now, but still he carefully opens them up and reads every word, as if he wants to feel the pain.

“You are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it,” one of them reads. “Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. My gun is watching your every black move.” Continue reading

Roger Maris Hits His 61st Home Run

October 1, 1961, A Home Run Record Is Set & Baseball Blows Its Big Moment

Roger Maris emerges from the dugout to tip his cap after hitting his 61st home run of the season. October 1, 1961

Roger Maris emerges from the dugout to tip his cap after hitting his 61st home run of the season. October 1, 1961

52 years ago today, on the last day of the regular season October 1, 1961, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season off of the Red Sox hurler Tracy Stallard in the fourth inning. For those who were fortunate enough to be there, it was a great moment in baseball history.

Unlike many of today’s players who will take a curtain call without any prodding for driving in the go-ahead run, Maris had to literally be pushed out of the dugout to acknowledge the 23,154 cheering fans at Yankee Stadium.

So why were there only 23,154 fans to see Babe Ruth’s record eclipsed?

That has to do with former sportswriter and then baseball Commissioner, Ford Frick who was a great friend of Babe Ruth and his ghost-writer.

Frick had declared that an asterisk be placed next to any home run record set, if it was not accomplished in 154 games, which was the number of games Ruth played in 1927 when he set his home run mark at 60.

Legendary baseball owner Bill Veeck tells this scathing and hilarious story in his wonderful memoir, Veeck as in Wreck written with Ed Linn (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 1962.

Let us be fair. Ford Frick does not try to do the wrong thing. Given the choice between doing something right or something wrong, Frick will usually begin by doing as little as possible. It is only when he is pushed to the wall for a decision that he will always, with sure instinct, and unerring aim, make an unholy mess of things.

Suppose that, purely as an exercise, I had put the following baseball question to you at any time during the past twenty-five years.

Suppose, starts the question, that someone comes along to challenge Babe Ruth’s record- which is THE record the same way Mt. Everest is THE mountain. Continue reading

Babe Ruth’s Funeral

Paying Respects To Babe Ruth

New York says goodbye to Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium August 17-18, 1948.

Babe Ruth funeral Yankee Stadium 8 18 48

Sixty five years ago today, when Babe Ruth died of cancer at the age of 53 on Monday, August 16, 1948, New Yorker’s and the baseball world mourned as it never had before.

As lines stretched into the night on August 17, 1948 for a last look at the Babe lying in state in the rotunda at Yankee Stadium, the stream of fans never let up. It was estimated that 50,000 fans on August 17th and 55,000 on the 18th filed past the open coffin. Among the mourners at the stadium were baseball executives Dan Topping, owner of the Yankees, Will Harridge, president of the American League, Commissioner, Happy Chandler and former players Hank Greenberg and Leo Durocher.

Babe Ruth funeral fans line up 8 17 1948

 

They filed by at the rate of 100 people per minute. People waited all night. To see this…

Babe Ruth Lies in state 8 18.1948

Some were given more than a moment to mourn.

In this photograph above, Frankie Haggerty, 10, of Danvers, MA wipes away a tear as he looks upon Babe Ruth lying in his casket at Yankee Stadium. When Ruth was too ill to attend the funeral of one of his mentors, Brother Gilbert, he gave Frankie permission to attend as his personal representative.

One father said, “I wanted my boy to come see this so he could always say he had seen the Babe in person.”

Another elderly white haired visitor lifted his grandson for a look into Ruth’s casket. “Take a good look sonny,” he said. “You’ll never see another man like him.”

Eleven-year-old Peter Carter said, “I feel very sad. Every night I pray the Babe’s soul will go to heaven.”

A requiem mass and funeral for the Babe was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on August 19, 1948.

6,000 mourners bowed their heads as Cardinal Spellman made a special prayer at the end of the solemn 1 hour service. 75,000 people waited outside the Cathedral in the pouring rain.

What was unexpected was that after the funeral over 100,000 people lined the route in silence from Manhattan to Westchester as the Babe was driven to his final resting place at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Mt. Pleasant, NY.

At the cemetery another 6,000 people were there to see the Babe off.  Ruth was put into a receiving vault until the family selected a site for burial.

Millions of people from around the country all said the same thing that you always hear after someone famous passes away, “he will never be forgotten.”

This time they were right.

An Incredible Babe Ruth Accomplishment

The Babe Hit Homers, But Didn’t Give Them Up

Babe Ruth 1916 at Comiskey Park LOC 2When I’m asked who was the greatest baseball player of all-time, I never hesitate in my answer that it was Babe Ruth. For the few people still living who saw Ruth play, they will attest to his skills as not just a great hitter, but an excellent fielder, surprisingly fast base runner (excepting his 1926 World Series blunder) and of course a dominant pitcher.

In 1916 with the Boston Red Sox, Ruth did something that only five other pitchers in the modern era have accomplished. Ruth pitched over 300 innings (324) without allowing a home run. Can you imagine that? Even in the deadball era when home runs were tough to come by, this is still an amazing achievement and one that will likely never be done again.

Starting pitchers today do not come close to pitching 300 innings, let alone not give up homers. The last pitcher Continue reading

Lou Gehrig Plays Sandlot Baseball 1927

The Iron Horse Takes Some Time To Play With The Boys

After the New York Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went on a barnstorming tour across the country.

This news photograph’s caption reads:

Back To Sandlot Days

Los Angeles- Lou Gehrig, Yankee slugger, is shown here at bat during a sandlot game between kid teams. On his barnstorming trip with Babe Ruth, Lou finds himself as much an idol with the kids as the great Bambino himself. And look at the kid behind the plate, ready to help his pitcher strike out Lou. ——11-2-27

Babe Ruth, Dewayne Wise And Mistakes Umpires Make

Umpires Make Mistakes: See Baseball History 101

Photo Mike Stobe / Getty Images

Everyone is in an unnecessary uproar over the  Dewayne Wise phantom catch of a baseball that disappeared into the crowd at Yankee Stadium on June 26, 2012 during a 6-4 Yankee victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The umpire, Mike DiMuro is human. He made a mistake and admitted it after the game. That was the right thing to do.

Do you want the game to stop every time there is a controversial play? Aren’t the games slow enough?

Mistakes similar to this have been happening since baseball began and have been forgotten unless they affect the pennant race or a World Series game.

One forgotten incident that occurred on August 1, 1920 was whether Joe Jackson of the Chicago White Sox actually caught a baseball Babe Ruth hit into an overflow crowd at Comiskey Park.  The aftermath of that play is shown below.

Babe Ruth & Miller Huggins argue with umpire Tom Connolly, Bob Meusel (with bat) listens © blackbetsy.com

Going into the game against the White Sox, Ruth was on a tear, having hit 37 home runs already, shattering his own record of 29 home runs set the previous year. Continue reading

Babe Ruth’s 1920 Uniform Sells For $4.4 Million At Auction

Babe Ruth, King Of The Sports Memorabilia World

Nearly sixty-four years after his death, Babe Ruth set another record on Sunday May 20, 2012 . His circa 1920 Yankees road jersey sold at SCP auctions for a staggering $4.4 million.

Photo © SCP auctions

This eclipses the previous highest amount paid for a piece of sports memorabilia, a Honus Wagner baseball card, which sold in 2008 for $2.8 million.

To put the amount of the sale price in some perspective, Babe Ruth earned approximately $910,000 during his entire major league baseball playing career from 1914 -1935. This of course does not account for inflation. In modern dollars with inflation Ruth would have earned $15.3 million.

Also Ruth made vast amounts of money during the off-season, barnstorming and doing various product endorsements and personal appearances.

How would Ruth have felt about his uniform selling for more than he made his entire career? I’d like to think Ruth would have had a good laugh at that fact.

Babe Ruth, second from left, with his Yankee teammates, early 1920’s

Here is a photograph of Babe Ruth early in his New York Yankee career during spring training, possibly wearing the multi-million dollar uniform.

On a side note

The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Yankees last night, May 21 at Yankee Stadium by a score of 6-0.  What made me notice this otherwise unremarkable game was what the New York Times said today in the sports section:

But the clutch-hitting woes of the Yankees — not just their wheezing All-Star first baseman — remained for another game, a 6-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals in front of 39,229 fans.

Anyone attending or watching the game on television knows the announced attendance of 39,229 was a joke. Looking at the mostly empty stadium, there were probably no more than 8,000 people attending the dreary game, which was played under a constant, steady rain.

The idea that baseball attendance is counted not by clicks of the turnstile, but by tickets sold is ridiculous. It’s another slight problem in a laundry list of things that MLB should address before baseball becomes completely irrelevant.

Classic Hollywood #10

Babe Ruth Shows Gary Cooper The Finer Points of Gripping A Baseball Bat

In the 1942 film The Pride of The Yankees which tells the life story of Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth took his role of playing himself very seriously.  He also wanted to make sure Gary Cooper got it right as well.

Babe shows Cooper where the trademark should be when holding a bat so it won’t shatter should he make contact.

Interestingly, Cooper is holding the bat left-handed as Gehrig was a lefty.  Even though Gary Cooper was good on a horse, he was not much of a baseball player.

For the filming of the movie, it was determined there was no way the right handed Cooper could convincingly swing a bat left handed. All the films sequences with Cooper hitting were shot with Cooper batting righty and the Yankee uniforms were reversed with the “NY”  emblem placed on the other side of his chest. Cooper would run to third after hitting the ball. The filmmakers then reversed the negative in these sequences so everything was in its right place in the final movie print and it would appear Cooper was running to first.  Hollywood magic at its simplest.

UPDATE 2/10/13 – Or was Cooper really playing left-handed? See the article here.

You Can’t Go Out Unrecognized, Can You?

Babe Ruth Signing Autographs

The Yankees won’t be in the World Series this year. The Detroit Tigers beat the Yankees three games to two in the American League Divisional Series last night. So we won’t be hearing God Bless America at Yankee Stadium during the 7th inning stretch for the rest of 2011 at the ballpark in the Bronx.

In 1936, after Babe Ruth retired, he did not show up to many ball games as a spectator.   He grew disillusioned with not being given the chance to get a management job in the game he loved and tended to avoid baseball parks. Of course it was always hard for Babe to go out in public without being besieged by autograph seekers. But he signed for everyone. That was the Babe. Continue reading

Babe Ruth Catches A Baseball From An Airplane

Babe Ruth, Out Standing In His Field, 1926

Yes, I know that is a terrible pun.

Here is an apocryphal story about Babe Ruth and this little known feat.

In this rare news photograph, Babe Ruth  has just caught a baseball dropped from an airplane on July 22, 1926 at Mitchel Field (an early New York airport) in Garden City, Long Island.  The New York Times reports Ruth donned an army uniform to drum up publicity for the Citizens Military Training Camps.

Six times, baseballs were dropped from the airplane and Ruth was sweating up a storm, Continue reading