Beam Us Back, Babe! We Need the Truth!

"GROUND CONTROL FROM MAJOR TOM!" ~ With Help from Salvador Dali

~ With Help from Salvador Dali


For a fuller appreciation of this material, you may want to first read The Pecan Park Eagle column I wrote on Babe Ruth’s Called Shot, with a fine addendum by SABR friend and colleague, Mark Wernick. Here’s the link:

If you don’t have time to read the first column too, this one will make sense on its own. It’s a hypothetical letter that I’ve written to Mark Wernick about what it may take to clearly prove, one way or the other, whether or not Babe Ruth really did call his shot against Charlie Root of the Cubs in Game Three of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago:

To my SABR friend, Mark Wernick:

Dear Mark,

I’ve never heard the articulate detailed argument that you have put forth in the column addendum from observations of the Kandle and Warp home movies. I also have not seen either in study-time-mode, but I am 100% behind the attention you paid to both pitcher Root and catcher Hartnett at the exact moment Ruth made his alleged (but now arguably documentable) point to center field. Both those men had to have missed anything that looked or sounded like Ruth calling his shot on the next pitch. Otherwise, it’s back to my agreement with the popular argument that pitcher Root would have put him down on the next pitch in retribution for audacity.

Like you, I’d love to see a modern HDTV camera, multi-angle replay of Ruth’s historical time at bat against Root in 1932 Chicago. While we’re in this dream, let’s wish even bigger. – Let’s wish that batter Ruth, pitcher Root, and catcher Hartnett had all been wired for sound during this most legendary time at bat in baseball history. After all, there were thousands of unprepared witnesses at Wrigley that day – and none of them were like us in one probably universal way. – Of the thousands who came to Wrigley Field on October 1, 1932 to see the Cubs host the Yankees in Game Three of the World Series, it’s not likely that any came to the ballpark expecting Babe Ruth to clearly predict that he was going to hit a home run on the next pitch from a guy like Charlie Root – and then do it. We have to hedge a little bit on the  universality of this lack of real-time fan preparation, just a tad. The presence of alcoholics and psychotics at ball games always leaves the door open to the possibility that  one or two of those 1932 fans may have come, indeed, expecting the result that we fans of a future point in time are still debating as real or not, in the absence of clear evidence, either way.

A good guess is that most fans at Wrigley that day left the game knowing nothing about Ruth calling his shot, or even pointing, until the rumor-kindled legend began its quick spread in the newspapers. When was the last time you ever sat in the cheap seats of any large ballpark without the benefits of a jumbo screen, a hand-held device that shows the game to you personally, or even a radio to keep you plugged in to what the pundits were seeing and thinking? ~ It’s been a long time for us here too. Back in the day, and as I’ve said elsewhere recently, from the outfield bleachers and far down the sidelines, the players at home or on the infield looked like the fastest little sugar ants you ever saw unleashed on a kitchen food storage area. For many of those fans, their first eyewitness experience with Ruth’s “called shot” was maybe hearing the bat contact – and then shifting their eyes to the bleacher area that was standing up – just to get a bead on where the ball seemed to be heading.

Getting proof, yes or no, would require us to (1) possess the science that does not currently exist; and (2) using that newfound science, be able to time travel back to the game ourselves – and get there early enough to hurdle the culture shock of explaining the modern tv and audio technology and crew we brought with us to the political and media powers-that-existed back then – and, of course, if we survived the first big ego wall, a wall that might even include J. Edgar Hoover because of the suspicions we could expect to generate from our story – and from our Buck Rogers-like equipment load, we would (3) have to get Commissioner Landis to grant us usage approval in the game itself. If we got that far, which is far from certain, we would have to strategically decide in advance how much Landis really needed to know of our specific reasons for wanting to demonstrate our incredible HD television equipment at this particular game.

If our “Ruth is (maybe) going to call his shot today” story were to take Baseball Commissioner Landis beyond his commonly shared capacity for believing that life only takes place on a linear “space and action, moving over time” basis, he might conclude that we were either nuts or con men. Taken both ways, that joined-at-the-hips conclusion could fire up the old judge to (a) have our whole crew committed to the Cook County Hospital Psych Ward; (b) ban you and me from baseball for life; and (c) suspend Ruth, Root, and Hartnett from playing in Game Three, or the rest of the World Series, while his office begins a relentlessly thorough investigation of all three star players for possible collusion with gamblers.

Conclusions: (1) Our time machine is not quite ready to go.

(2) If it were, dragging all of our contemporary recording equipment, including player sound-wirings, does sound like our best shot at learning the truth. Sound-wiring, however, will only work if we can figure out a way to keep the players from knowing they are wired. Knowledge of the wirings would most likely influence what they each say – or don’t say – or even do. It would also be far better if none of the players knew about the television coverage, but faith in that possibility is also melting in my mind as I write.

(3) Without making this trip, as prescribed, we will never have the truth to prove, one way or the other, what actually happened on October 1, 1932 at Wrigley Field. Even if our best plan to time travel there worked, and we recorded it ourselves, the probability is high that our bold presence there would somehow effect what happened in the game – and also the flow of all history. After all, we weren’t exactly coming into 1932 from 2016 on the wings of a butterfly – and they say that a single movement of even one butterfly’s wings changes everything else.

(4) We don’t really want to be banned from baseball for something we didn’t do. We also don’t want to be committed to the Cook County Psych Ward in 1932. It was really bad news back in the early years of the Great Depression.

(6), We don’t really want to be trapped in 1932. That would mean that we would not be around and available for our birth dates as free souls. And that means we never would have been born into our present lives – or even existed – and, finally.

(7) If we never existed, the time trip to 1932 never happened.

(8) If the 1932 time trip never happened, our free soul births would not have been blocked.

(9) Unblocked, we would be right where we are today, except for whatever subtle changes that may have occurred within us from even thinking about a time travel trip to 1932.

(10) The biggest event on our agenda, for now, at least, is our eager wait for the start of the 2016 MLB baseball season.

Take care, Mark. And keep the door open on what we may do next. We will keep you posted on progress we are making with the time travel prototype XPM-2016.

Regards, Bill


3/02/2016, Addendum: Mark Wernick’s Reply to the above featured letter:

          Ah,  time travel.  Where are Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox when you need them?
          We can be sure of one thing – something out of the ordinary happened that day,  and we know that not just because we now can watch film of Babe Ruth pointing toward center field.  We know it because people were arguing about this issue long before it was known that such film existed.  And we knew about it previously because many people who were there at the time had their eyes on Ruth when he pointed,  and reported back to others what they observed. That’s how we learned about Chesbro’s wild pitch in  1904,  Merkle’s boner in 1908,  Snodgrass’  muff in  1912,  Stengel’s inside-the-park game-winning homer in the 1921 world series,  Gabby Hartnett’s walk-off homer in the gloamin’ in  1938, Al Gionfriddo’s game-saving catch on DiMaggio’s  400+ foot drive in the  1947 world series,  Mickey Mantle’s  565′  (or so)  homer in Griffith Stadium in  1953,  Jackie Robinson’s alleged steal of home in the  1955 world series,  Don Larsen’s perfect world series game in  1956, the baseball smudged with polish from Nippy Jones’  shoe in the  1957 world series,  Bill Mazeroski’s world series winning homer in  1960,  Ozzie Smith’s backflips,  and Derek Jeter’s front flip vs. Oakland in  2001.  People saw these things,  and they talked about them,  and they became legend and lore of baseball. I suspect it’s a genuine rarity for such legend and lore to spring as a complete fiction from the imaginations  (and then mouths and pens)  of thousands upon thousands of participant observers who were there to bear witness on the fateful day.
~ Mark Wernick

 eagle-0range Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas



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