By Shane Igoe
Special to Page 3
Considering the Red Sox laid his ghost to rest last week and Halloween followed close behind, Page 3 thought it would be a good time to interview to the Babe.
As you might imagine, it is a pretty tough interview to land. We even had to travel 25 miles north of the City to the tiny, hilly hamlet of Hawthorne, New York to the Gate of Heaven Cemetery.
In between visits from a local parish priest and a Bostonian burying an olive branch, we stepped up to the plate, and to made an attempt to channel the famous Bambino.
And so, on a brisk October afternoon, right there in front of Plot # 1115, section 25, we threw out our first question ...
1.Hello, are you there, Mr. Ruth? I realize things have been kind of crazy of late but I was wondering if you have a minute to do a quick interview with ESPN?
Babe Ruth: Ugh, yet another hack ... ESP who? Is that some magic magazine?
Actually it is largest sports network ... actually, yeah, it's magic.
Babe: OK, OK ... make it snappy. I've been rolling around here in the grave for the past few days, and I'm beat.
2. So, let's talk about the year 1918.
1918. Aww, those were the days! I was really doing some good things on the field --
Yeah, that year with the Red Sox, you started your transition from the mound to plate and in 1918 you even lead the --
Don't interrupt me, kid. I was having a moment there. Yes, I was starting to swing for the fences but I was really swinging. 1918 ...every night we were partying like it was 1899! Even when we were on the road we stayed out all hours hanging out with the likes of that Hilton sister ...
Wait, the Hilton sisters- Paris and Nikki are --
No, numbskull. Mary Adelaide.
(Note: After talking with Babe, I did a little digging, and it turns out Mary Adelaide Barron was Paris and Nikki's great grandmother. She was the young divorcee of the Hilton heir and founder Conrad Hilton.)
3. So what do you think of all these players trying to beat your records? It appears Barry Bonds will join the 700 club and eclipse your 714 mark by early next year. And what are your thoughts on Barry and this whole steroid controversy anyway?
Son, you have to remember that in my day, over 10 was considered good. I mean Frank "Home run " Baker earned that name and he only knocked out nine, 10, 11, 12 in a season. Meanwhile, I lead the league in 1918 and 1919, and I was still a pitcher! Now, as far as this guy coming along hitting 73 in a season, 700+ in his career ... I don't know if the ball is juiced or if the guy is but something is definitely up. I mean, if the guy is hopped up on the goofballs, and it was his decision, that is one thing, but what are we supposed to believe, someone slipped him some Charles Atlas muscle powder?
4. So, how are those Yankee greats treat you in the after-life? I mean, Billy Martin is buried literally in the shadow of your grave (Billy's grave stands a few rows behind the Babe's -- no more than 90 feet or away.). Is there sort of a Rat Pack up there with you, Mantle, DiMaggio?
(Awkward silence) Let's just say Billy Boy hasn't made his appearance in these parts just yet.
5. Speaking of locations, what do you think of today's ballparks. Back in your day, Yankee Stadium was, what, 460 inches to the left and 490 inches to centerfield?
These little sandlot stadiums are joke! I mean, Camden Yards? Come on! That is like my backyard ... I'm serious; I grew up down the street. Keep in mind, when I played in small fields like Wrigley, I was calling the shots. Remember '32? Talk about friendly confines. Wrigley wasn't even a Major League stadium as it was built as Weeghman Park for the Federal League. Man, just like I did there at Wrigley, I would chew up stadiums today.
By the way, your dad's bar in Baltimore is still drawing huge crowds.
Well, since his bar once stood within the stadium grounds, you could technically say he is drawing more than 2,450,000 people a year.
Boy, someone really needs to cut you off.
6. So what are your thoughts on this brouhaha between Baltimore and Washington D.C. about a new team?
Well, I guess since the Orioles did pick up and move to New York to become the Highlanders, who in turn would become the Yankees, I can see why Baltimore fans have a huge beef. Baltimore is a great city, and their fans deserve a team but, then again, I can see how Washingtonians are worried that it would take fans away from the Senators.
Actually, I was asking about Montreal's move to DC.
7. I'm sure you heard the chants of "Who's Your Daddy?" even all the way up here. And you probably heard the talk about Pedro Martinez going over to the Yankees, uh, his Daddy. So, back in your day, who called you the Daddy?
Uh ... well, there was Dorothy. She was born in 1921. And then Julia was born in 1917 --
8. What do you think of all of this stuff people leave here for you at your grave? Between all of the hats, gloves, balls, framed pictures, pennants, kids drawings, ballons, lucky pennies, and pumpkins what has been your favorite thing?
Need you even ask, knucklehead? Food. People also leave hot dogs, pizza, and beer. Just this last week, a nice, elderly nun from New Hampshire visited with batch of her homemade cookies. It has been really great at "the Gate."
9. What do you think of the stuff that I picked up for you at the local gas station? I brought you a red, pin-striped hat and a Babey Ruth bar.
Are you nuts? That candy bar came out before I hit it big. Don't you do your homework? The Bay Ruth was rumored to be named for President Cleveland's daughter or after the kid of the guy who invented it. Don't quit your day job, kid.
10. So what now? Who will you haunt now that the Sox successfully 86'ed 86 years of frustration?
Well, obviously George S., Joe Torre, A-Rod, Jeter, and the rest of the Bronx bombers have seen a lot of me lately ... not to mention all of the Yankee fans across the country. With all of this recent stuff going on, I am going to make a conscious effort to try to take it easy for a while. I mean, looking ahead I have an appearance scheduled for that 714 HR thing next spring, and there are some rumblings about a Yankee Stadium move, but other than that ... who knows? Maybe I'll lay low till say ... 2090?
Growing up outside of Baltimore, the writer now lives in New York City. Shane's first book entitled "Taking the Hill: 100 Presidential Pitches from Opening Day 1904-2004" debuts next year. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.