Paying Respects To Babe Ruth
New York says goodbye to Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium August 17-18, 1948.
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.
They filed by at the rate of 100 people per minute. People waited all night. To see this…
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.