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1932 Fifty Years Ago

December 2023
1min read

There were fifty-one thousand witnesses, including Gov. Franklin Roosevelt, and still the matter is unsettled. Did George Herman Ruth, in the third game of the World Series at Comiskey Park, actually point to the centerfield bleachers before hitting a home run to that very spot? Years later, in his autobiography (“as told to” Bob Considine), Ruth said yes, and the moment is enshrined in the movie version of his life. But contemporary accounts agree only that there was a good deal of gesticulation at the plate: Ruth was keeping track of the count and mocking the Chicago players who were riding him from the bench; a “pantomime act” John Drebinger called it in the New York Times . Charlie Root was pitching for Chicago, Gabby Hartnett catching—the two men in the best position to know. Their testimony is:

Root : Ruth did not point at the fence before he swung. If he had made a gesture like that, well, anybody who knows me knows that Ruth would have ended up on his ass.

Hartnett : Babe waved his hand across the plate toward our bench on the third-base side. One finger was up. At the same time he said softly, “It only takes one to hit it.” If he had pointed out to the bleachers, I’d be the first to say so.

Ruth’s latest biographer, Robert Creamer, gives the last word on the matter to Ford Frick, “who tried to pin Ruth down on the subject when the two were talking about the Series sometime later.

”‘Did you really point to the bleachers?’ Frick asked.

”Ruth, always honest, shrugged. ‘It’s in the papers, isn’t it?’

”‘Yeah,’ Frick said, ‘it’s in the papers. But did you really point to the stands?’

”‘Why don’t you read the papers? It’s all right there in the papers!’

“Which, Frick said, means he never said he did and he never said he didn’t.”

October 2 —Norman Vincent Peale was installed at the Marble Collegiate Church. He’s still there.

October 15 —The San Francisco Opera House opened. The opera was Tosca .

November 8 —FDR was elected as President of the United States.

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