Thursday, April 27, 2017

Babe Ruth Day

By the spring of 1947 it was evident that Babe Ruth was very sick, though it was not widely known he'd been diagnosed with throat cancer from which would die in August 1948.  Gaunt from the loss of considerable weight, his hair gone grey, the Babe had difficulty walking unaided.

Baseball Commissioner "Happy" Chandler designated April 27 as Babe Ruth Day and 58,339 fans jammed into Yankee Stadium to celebrate the greatest player in the game's history.  The Commissioner announced that Ruth was taking on a new assignment as director of baseball for the American Legion, and the Bambino was introduced by Larry Cutler, a 13-year old American Legion player.  Babe's remarks follow:

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

You know how bad my voice sounds -- well it feels just as bad.
You know this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys.
And after you're a boy and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in your national pastime, the only real game -- I think -- in the world, baseball.
As a rule, some people think if you give them a football, or a baseball, or something like that -- naturally they're athletes right away.
But you can't do that in baseball.
You've gotta start from way down [at] the bottom, when you're six or seven years of age. You can't wait until you're fifteen or sixteen. You gotta let it grow up with you. And if you're successful, and you try hard enough, you're bound to come out on top -- just like these boys have come to the top now.
There's been so many lovely things said about me, and I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to thank everybody.
Thank you.
Sportswriter Jimmy Cannon reported on the event in the next day's edition of the New York Post:
The camel’s hair cap was flat and big on his head and his face was angular and creased. The camel’s hair coat blew loosely in the draught and there was no belly beneath his belt. The collar of the green shirt billowed out from the emaciated neck and the cigar was out in his left hand. The tan on his face seemed unnatural because he didn’t look like a man who had been out in the sun.

There was a guy on each side of him and they moved in close and braced him when they approached the stairs and the specials and peanut guys stood back and shook their heads as he passed. They know, as everyone who has ever read a sports page knows that the money he had drawn as a Yankee had built this stadium. Now the greatest Yankee of them all walked as a stranger under the stands and that’s the only part of a park a ball player really knows besides the field.

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