Texas and The Babe.

Babe Ruth was baseball from the 1920s forward. He still is, if you scratch the surface of things even ever so slightly. And he had all the makings of an unforgettable character from the very start too. His unbelievably gifted joint talent as first a pitcher and then a slugger remains unmatched in the game to this day. Baseball has never known another player who could’ve made it all the way to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown with either of those singular talents for throwing or slugging the baseball alone, but “The Babe” had them both, and he owned them at just the right moments in baseball history. By now it’s a biographically worn out story. After sparkling in two World Series championship seasons for the Boston Red Sox in 1916 and 1918, Ruth moved over to the New York Yankees in 1920 by way of a devilishly infamous/heavenly fortuitous trade, dependent upon the presence of your Red Sox/Yankees red corpuscles.

Regardless, Babe Ruth got to New York just in time to help America soon forget about/or recover from the terrible blow inflicted upon the game by the Chicago “Black Sox” Scandal of 1919. For those who haven’t heard, eight members of the 1919 White Sox club were expelled forever from baseball after the 1920 season for conspiring to fix the 1919 World Series in favor of the Cincinnati Reds. They were kicked out of the game in spite of the fact that they were never found guilty of such an act by a court of law. It consquentially fell upon the broad shoulders of one George Herman”Babe” Ruth to help fans find positive distraction from the dark side of things – and to do it with his ability to blast a baseball out of the park with a bat. He did it often – and for prolific distances.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Babe Ruth came to Texas and Houston often in the springtime as a barnstorming member of the New York Yankees. The club played minor league teams and sometimes even squared off against the local Texas college clubs where they toured. My late father often told me the story of how the New York Yankees came to Austin in the spring of 1928 to play the Universty of Texas Longhorns during the time that Dad was a prep school outfielder at St. Edwards there. Somehow the school arranged to get the entire St. Edwards Bronchos team into the game over at UT for seating down the right field line, where Ruth was playing that afternoon against the Longhorns.

Dad long ago forgot the final score, but he implied that it was a heavily crushing “no mercy” margin in favor of the Yankees over the Longhorns. One of these days I may get around to actually checking Dad’s memory against the library line score record of that game, but I have no question about his most vivid recollection of that afternoon. During the game, Babe Ruth had an autographed baseball business set up down the right field line at UT. Ruth had a guy posted in foul territory with a bag full of balls. For five dollars cash, Babe Ruth would run over to the sidelines between batters and sign one of these balls for any fan who was willing to pay. The assistant would then toss it up to purchaser and that lucky fan got to leave with an authentic Babe Ruth signature on a baseball for the price of five dollars.

Of course, my adolescent question of Dad always rose quickly to”Why didn’t you get one?” That always opened the door for Dad to launch into the subject of prep school student poverty and the value of five dollars in 1928. It never even occurred to Dad that getting one of those Ruth signed baseballs was within the realm of possibility. “It would have been like you going to Buff Stadium in the spring and finding out that Stan Musial was signing balls during the game for those who were willing to pay him five hundred dollars for the thing,” Dad said. “Could you have bought one of those Musial balls in 1954 at that rate?”

“No, Dad,” I always answered, “I got the point a long time ago.”

Stiil, the Babe didn’t always come to town just to take people’s money. In 1930, the Yankees were in Houston to play the Buffs at Buff Stadium in single games scheduled for March 29th and March 30th. The Yankes took both games by scores of 17-2 and 6-5. while he was here, Babe Ruth went downtown and gave an address to Houston kid members of the Knothole Gang. The presentation took place at the old City Auditorium on the corner of Lousiana and Texas, on the site of the current Jones Hall building. The full house meeting was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club and a good time was had by all.

Wish we had the text of what “The Babe” actually said that day in 1930 Houston. It would be sort of  interesting to see if Ruth gave any advice to the kids that day that we wasn’t actually living up to in his own real life adult adventures. On the other hand, it really doesn’t matter what Ruth said or didn’t say that long ago day in Houston history. He was Babe Ruth, a guy who led by example on the field – and by the fact that he would even show up on a spring day in 1930 to speak with hundreds of Houston kids for free.

He was Babe Ruth and, for a few hours long ago, he walked among us here in Texas as our flesh and blood, larger than life hero. For those who were around at that time, nothing could detract from the power and magic of those Ruthian moments of joy that they were simply here together in his presence – and in their very own state and home town.

Tags: , ,

8 Responses to “Texas and The Babe.”

  1. Bill Gilbert Says:

    Good story. I’m impressed that you can find something like this to write about every day. It must be close to a full time job.

    Babe Ruth’s second World Series with the Red Sox was in 1918, not 1926.

  2. Bill McCurdy Says:

    To Bill Gilbert:

    Bill – Thanks for the kind words. It’s really more of a two-hour job each day I write, starting with inception through whatever research I need to do on top of what I already have at my fingertips through the actual writing. Sometimes it’s longer. I obviously need to spend more time editing for typos. Thanks for correcting me on the date of the last Red Sox World Series with the Babe (or anyone else) in the 20th century. I meant “1918”, but typed “1928”. Thanks to you, that typo has been corrected.

    Take care. Hope you are doing OK these days.

  3. anthony cavender Says:

    Bill: Wonderful article! A glass-enclosed trophy case at Gregory Gym on the campus of the University of Texas included as one of the exhibits an autographed baseball that was advertised as being one the Babe hit out of the park while playing an exhibition game in Austin so many years ago. Perhaps this happened in 1928. And I recall that the Menger Hotel in San Antonio has a picture of the Babe in cowboy regalia which was taken during one of his visits there.

  4. Cliff Blau Says:

    You wrote that “Babe Ruth got to New York just in time to help America soon forget about/or recover from the terrible blow inflicted upon the game by the Chicago “Black Sox” Scandal of 1919. ”

    Actually, he got there a year early for that, since he was sold (not traded) to the Yankees in January 1920 and the Black Sox scandal didn’t become public until late September 1920.

    You also wrote: “They were kicked out of the game in spite of the fact that they were never found guilty of such an act by a court of law.”

    That’s because there was no law against it.

  5. Bill McCurdy Says:

    Cliff:

    I think we all understand that Babe Ruth’s sale to New York was not governed by any divine premonitional intent to save baseball from the stain of the 1919 World Series scandal, but I do aree with those who feel the Babe’s emergence as a home run slugger like no other before him helped turn fans’ attention away from what happened in 1919 and on to the new power game that was coming of age. – I agree that there was no law against gambling for the courts to handle. The court’s actions would have been based upon proving the Black Sox actually had accepted money to throw the Series. If you recall, the primary confession evidence disappeared from the Cook County files.

  6. JAMES DAVID COLELLA Says:

    Dear Sirs;
    I have a baseball that was from the1919 Boston Red Sox E.G.Barrow MGR signed it as well there is about 8 or so readable names including Ruth, Del Gainer Geo Winn Mcinnis, del gainergeo dumont, and a few more it was a game ball played with then signed I’m trying to find out more information E.G.Barrow is crystal clear it has been in our family for 93 years after dad died I got the ball need to find out how my great great uncle Matt C Brush got it Help please.
    Rev James Colella

  7. JAMES DAVID COLELLA Says:

    Mr Bill Mcurdy;
    You being a history buff maybe you can help this old Vet please read my post on this 1919 baseball I have and maybe you can help me. It’s been in the family since 1919 and all the family are passed now so finding out anything will be hard.
    Regards
    Rev James D. Colella

  8. http://baberuthsignedbaseball.Blogspot.com/ Says:

    I’ve learn some just right stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how a lot attempt you place to create such a fantastic informative web site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: