NEW YORK -- Julia Ruth Stevens had one last trip to make before Arizona became her year-round home. The 91-year-old daughter of Babe Ruth just had to say goodbye to one of her father's favorite places.
Stevens was back at Yankee Stadium on Saturday to present
Alex Rodriguez with the 2007 Babe Ruth award, presented annually to the major league leader in home runs. Stevens was accompanied by her son, Tom, and two grandchildren, and got a warm reception from the crowd before New York's 6-0 loss to Cincinnati.
"I wasn't sure I was ever going to get to see the Yankee Stadium again," she said as she stood in front of a picture of her iconic father hanging in a corridor near New York's clubhouse. "But this is my last trip east and I'm just thrilled at being here again, to see [what] daddy called his second home."
In its early days, Ruth and others referred to it as "the Yankee Stadium."
Ruth hit the first homer in Yankee Stadium history, a three-run drive in New York's 4-1 victory over Boston on April 18, 1923. He led New York to four championships in 15 seasons with the team and finished his 22-year career with 714 home runs -- currently the third most in major league history.
A New York sports writer dubbed the Bronx stadium "The House That Ruth Built," and the Yankees retired Ruth's No. 3 during their 25th anniversary celebration of Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948 -- the great slugger's final visit to the ballpark.
"He loved the Yankee Stadium and he loved coming every single day to play ball," Stevens said.
This is New York's final season in the historic stadium. The $1.3 billion new Yankee Stadium is already a prominent fixture across the street, and Stevens said her father would approve of the swanky new ballpark.
"Time moves on," she said.
Stevens is making some changes of her own. She used to spend part of the year in New Hampshire but is going to stay in Arizona when she returns from this trip.
When her father's second home finally closes, Stevens is hoping to snag a memento from the stadium that played such a big role in her life.
"A seat would be wonderful but I don't know where I would put it in my little place out in Arizona," she said. "But if there is any bricks or anything around anywhere I'd love to have one of those."