The Day Few Showed Up for Babe’s Big Moment

Only 8,000 saw Babe Ruth hit No. 60.

Have you ever seen the box score from the game in which Babe Ruth hit Home Run  # 60 back in 1927?  Take a good look at the attendance too. This was the next to last game of the season, played at home in the cavernous 70,000 plus seats jewel park of baseball, Yankee Stadium, in only its fifth year of existence. The Yankees had long sewed up the pennant, but here was Ruth, going into the last two games of the year with a chance to break his own record of 59 from 1921, and only 8,000 fans show up to see the action?

Baseball Almanac Box ScoresWashington Senators 2, New York Yankees 4
Game played on Friday, September 30, 1927 at Yankee Stadium I
Washington Senators ab   r   h rbi
Rice rf 3 0 1 0
Harris 2b 3 0 0 0
Ganzel cf 4 0 1 0
Goslin lf 4 1 1 0
Judge 1b 4 0 0 0
Ruel c 2 1 1 1
Bluege 3b 3 0 1 1
Gillis ss 4 0 0 0
Zachary p 2 0 0 0
  Johnson ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 30 2 5 2
New York Yankees ab   r   h rbi
Combs cf 4 0 0 0
Koenig ss 4 1 1 0
Ruth rf 3 3 3 2
Gehrig 1b 4 0 2 0
Meusel lf 3 0 1 2
Lazzeri 2b 3 0 0 0
Dugan 3b 3 0 1 0
Bengough c 3 0 1 0
Pipgras p 2 0 0 0
  Pennock p 1 0 0 0
Totals 30 4 9 4
Washington 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 0
New York 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 x 4 9 1
  Washington Senators IP H R ER BB SO
Zachary  L(8-13) 8.0 9 4 4 1 1
  New York Yankees IP H R ER BB SO
Pipgras 6.0 4 2 2 5 0
  Pennock  W(19-8) 3.0 1 0 0 1 0

E–Gehrig (15).  DP–Washington 2. Harris-Bluege-Judge, Gillis-Harris-Judge.  2B–Washington Rice (33).  3B–New York Koenig (10).  HR–New York Ruth (60,8th inning off Zachary 1 on 1 out).  Team LOB–7.  SH–Meusel (21).  Team–4.  SB–Rice (19); Ruel (9); Bluege (15).  U–Bill Dinneen, Tommy Connolly, Brick Owens.  T–1:38.  A–8,000.

Game played on Friday, September 30, 1927 at Yankee Stadium I
Baseball Almanac Box Score | Printer Friendly Box Scores

And it was a Friday afternoon in New York City during the still halcyon fun and finance times of the Roaring Twenties – and only a relative handful of people showed up to see if the Bambino could do again what no other player through his era seemed capable of doing – break a slugging record set far ahead of the pack by a fellow named George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

And he did it. Off a forever famous fellow because he threw it, Tom Zachary. With one on and one out in the bottom of the 8th. And he did it with no controverted argument that any substance he may have put in his body had helped, but with plenty of awe that he may have accomplished what he did in spite of what he had taken into his physical being just hours and minute prior to his record accomplishment.

8,000 spectators that day represents about 11% of the 72,000 capacity that was Yankee Stadium of those times. Can you imagine how easy it must have been for everyone who was there to hear the echoing crack of Babe’s 60th HR contact moment that day? Did they cheer in scattered unison moment to Ruth’s swing and classic tip-toe trot around the bases? Were the skies still grey from the threat of rain? And was the threat of rain itself one of the big reasons so few people showed up to see one of the big moments in MLB history?

Almost as many will show up tomorrow night to watch the Roger and Koby Clemens father and son team serve as the Friday game battery for the Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field. All that says to me is that the so-called “viral” moments of our current digital era just weren’t happening back in the day of 1927 when we barely had radio.

Perhaps, some of you New York Yankee experts have some better answers to the questions we have posed about the low attendance at “The Stadium” on September 30, 1927. All I know is that I would love to have a time machine and a ticket to that game. And I think I’d want to sit in the right field bleachers too. Well, maybe I’d prefer a seat behind the Yankee dugout. – It would always be possible to amble over to the right field bleachers to watch the rest of the game from the 8th inning til the last out.

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6 Responses to “The Day Few Showed Up for Babe’s Big Moment”

  1. Wayne Williams Says:

    Interesting to note that the game only took one hour and thirty eight minutes to play. I just sat through a 11 to 10 game at Coors Field that took 3:22 to play. The game before that I attended, a 3-2 game, took 2:30 to play. Times have changed.

  2. Anthony Cavender Says:

    During DiMaggio’s 1941 hitting streak, it was common for only a few thousand fans to atend weekday games–at home or on the road with the Yankees.

  3. Stephen Anthony Bertone Says:

    More interesting than that is the time it took…..1:38!!
    Last game of the season. The Yankees had won 108 going into the last game. New York was getting ready for the W.S. and unlike the chicks of today, they didn’t dig the long ball.

  4. Greg Lucas Says:

    Also interesting that Lou Gehrig made his 15th error that day. That would be a huge number for a first baseman in modern baseball.

  5. Cliff Blau Says:

    That 8000 was probably just some reporter’s estimate. Who knows what the actual attendance was.

  6. Mark Says:

    This Washington team was two years removed from being a world series combatant and three years removed from being world champions. I remember reading that the gild was pretty well worn off the lily by the time Ruth was poised to break his own record. It may have been Robert Creamer who explained that the people of New York, and elsewhere, had grown so inured to Ruth’s homerun prowess that there was no actual ceiling contemplated about how many he could hit. The perception was that he could hit them almost at will, and that he might hit 70 or 80 or even more in coming seasons. So the moment for most fans was not very exceptional or fraught with drama. I don’t know if that’s really accurate, but I remember reading that speculation. And then too I suspect 8000 may have been an average week day attendance figure in the era before night games.

    The 23,000 who attended when Roger Maris hit # 61 on a Sunday afternoon is probably a more startling figure. Some credit may be due to Ford Frick for that figure.

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