September 22, 2019

Babe Ruth Homered in $800 Million Baseball Game

May 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

On August 26, 1943, 48-year-old Babe Ruth hit a home run off 43-year-old Walter Johnson into the right field stands at the Polo Grounds. The blast – one of the last by the Babe – was witnessed by 35,000 fans and helped raise $800 million in War Bonds.

Organized by the long-since defunct New York Journal-American to raise funds for the war effort, the four-hour spectacular featured comedians, dance bands, movie actors and singers, plus the Giant-Yankee-Dodger all-stars who turned in a 5 to 2 win over the Army’s New Cumberland Reception Center team, which was aided by Hank Greenberg, Johnny Beazley, Danny Murtaugh, Billy Hitchcock and Enos Slaughter.

But the highlight of the show came later. “There were still 35,000 lumps in 35,000 throats around the village Friday,” wrote Sid Feder for the Associated Press. “All because a dozen old men walked out on a ball field.”

They weren’t just any 12 old men. Seven of them – Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, George Sisler, Eddie Collins, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker and acting manager Connie Mack – were Hall of Famers. Frankie Frisch, Roger Bresnahan and umpire Bill Klem would be elected to the Hall at a later date. Only Duffy Lewis of the Red Sox and Red Murray of the Giants didn’t make the Hall.

“As they spread out on their regular spots on the field,” continued Feder, “the lump you got in your throat and the moisture in the eyes of some of the most blasé baseball writers in the press coop were more than enough to prove that the baseball fan is at least part elephant. He never forgets.

“It didn’t matter that in fielding some of Babe’s “practice shots” Murray fell down, Speaker was practically decapitated and Collins was all but carried into right field by a line drive. The folks had a look at ’em, and the Babe finally parked one. That was the icing on the cake.”

Three years later, the Babe was diagnosed with throat cancer. In March 1947, the new commissioner of baseball, A. B. “Happy” Chandler, declared that April 27 would be Babe Ruth Day in the major leagues. Ceremonies were held in all the ballparks and at Yankee Stadium, the Babe – his voice ravaged by the cancer – addressed the crowd of 60,000, saying, “There have been so many lovely things said about me. I’m glad I can be here to thank everyone. Thank you.”

Sixteen months later, Babe Ruth died. He was 53 years old. In the hearts and minds of countless baseball fans around the world, his legacy will never be forgotten.

Gary Bedingfield

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