Speaking of baseball, anomalies and my home town, the “Philadelphia Inquirer” recently ran a nostalgia piece on Babe Ruth. On Sept. 3, 1923, Ruth, 28, led the New York Yankees to a doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Athletics. Immediately afterwards, Ruth left Shibe Park – still in uniform – and was whisked by private car to the blue-collar Kensington section of the city and the rectory of the Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church. There he changed into an Ascension uniform.
He would play first base and bat clean-up in a charity game to raise money to pay for a new Ascension ball field. The well-promoted exhibition drew an overflow crowd estimated at an unprecedented (for non-Major League) 10,000 fans. Ruth went one-for-four, including a towering blast that was estimated at 600 feet by observers. He also stole a base. But Ascension lost 2-1 to Lit Bros.
The Philadelphia media was understandably all over the event – but cut the Bambino no slack on his triple-header endurance test for charity. “Ruth’s Bat Fails Ascension Club” read the headline in the next day’s “Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.”
A vintage Philly media moment.
A more contemporary take on Philadelphia’s famously fault-finding media came from Phillies’ Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, whose career spanned most of the 1970s and ’80s.
“Philadelphia is the only city,” deadpanned Schmidt, “where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day.”
Still a great line.