Wednesday, May 25, 2005


May 25th, 1922

Babe Ruth Called Out

Ruth was called out by umpire George Hildebrand after he attempted to stretch a single into a double. Ruth, who once smacked an umpire in the face over his strike zone (the incident is more famously remembered because Ernie Shore, Ruth's replacement, picked off the one batter the Babe had allowed and then set down the next twenty-six in order) disagreed with the call. He responded by arguing and when that didn't work, picked up a handful of dirt and threw it into Hildebrand's eyes. After his ejection, Ruth noticed a heckler in the St. Louis crowd and decided that it would be a shame to waste all his rage on the umpire and went into the stands after the guy. After finally being dragged out of the crowd, Ruth stood on the dugout and proclaimed the crowd a bunch of "yellow cowards." All in all it was quite a performance. Ruth was suspended for a game and stripped of his role of Yankee Captain, which he had held for a grand total of six games.

This incident is notable not just for the differing attitudes we hold today towards players attacking fans, Ruth lost a game, while Ron Artest was out of the season, but also for how the story is told. In contrast to the story of Ty Cobb going into the stands, tellings of this story inevitably have a certain joking aspect to them, usually centered on Ruth's inability to remain Yankee Captain for an entire week. On the other hand, Cobb's going into the stands is usually painted as disgraceful. This is partially because the poor schmuck who Cobb went after turned out to not have any arms (the armless guy was played, oddly, by Jimmy Buffett in Cobb a few years back) but also because of the personalities of the men. Cobb, as I've said, was a jerk. Ruth could be a jerk, but was (and is) regarded with reasonable accuracy as a jovial figure.

This isn't to make excuses for Cobb, he has his apologists but I'm not one of them, just to remember that while history may seem the bare laying out of facts, but even when it comes to something as simple as baseball, the facts are rarely laid bare.

Some News:

I will be attending my first Yankee game of the season tonight, sitting in Tier Section 5, Row V (hey, I'm a student, I can't afford the box seats). If anyone would like to pay me a visit and/or get the exercise by coming all the way up to Row V, I will be seat 23, wearing a Yankee jersey, leather jacket, battered Yankee cap and scribbling furiously in a large grey scorebook.

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