Babe Ruth's called shot

From BR Bullpen

One of baseball's all-time greatest legends is "Babe Ruth's Called Shot" in the 1932 World Series. With the New York Yankees facing the Chicago Cubs on October 1st in Game 3 of the Series at Wrigley Field, Babe Ruth faced Cubs hurler Charlie Root in the 4th inning. After Root's first two pitches were strikes, accounts say Ruth pointed to the centerfield bleachers. He then deposited the next pitch in the same spot.

After the games, sportswriters stated that Ruth had "called" his shot (an allusion to pocket billiards, in which a player has to indicate that he will sink a ball into a specific pocket). Ruth went along with the claim, although Root contended to his dying day that this was not the case: he claims Ruth instead held up his bat to indicate he had one strike left.

One of the persons present at the game was future Supreme Court Judge John Paul Stevens, who was 12 at the time and a huge Cubs fan. He always said that Ruth "very definitely" did point his bat before hitting the famous homer. Also present was future President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who threw the ceremonial first pitch a couple of weeks before defeating Herbert Hoover in the general election. A contrary opinion came from pitcher Charlie Root's relatives, who said that if Ruth had done such a thing, "Charlie would have drilled him in the ear with his next pitch". However, that is more a matter of opinion than anything.

There is also a narrative that Ruth made his putative gesture to show up the Cubs' mistreatment of SS Mark Koenig, a former Yankee added in mid-season who had starred during the pennant drive. Koenig had only been voted half a World Series share by the Cubs, something his former teammates considered shabby treatment. Digging even further, it became an oft-repeated story that Koenig had been acquired by the Cubs to take the place of Bill Jurges, who had been shot by jilted showgirl Violet Popovich in early July, making for a dramatic chain of event from Popovich's pistol shot to Ruth's called shot. However, that is not true, as Jurges came back from his injury after a couple of weeks, then Koenig was acquired in early August, after the firing of manager Rogers Hornsby, who was also the team's back-up infielder, and did not take over for Jurges until mid-August, after which it was impossible to remove him from the line-up as he batted .353 the rest of the way.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Roberts Ehrgott: "Playing Dominoes With the Called Shot: Did Violet Popovich Really Set the Whole Thing Off?", in Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 50, Nr. 1 (Spring 2021), pp. 16-23.
  • John G. Robertson: Baseball's Greatest Controversies: Rhubarbs, Hoaxes, Blown Calls, Ruthian Myths, Managers' Miscues and Front-Office Flops, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 1995. ISBN 978-0-7864-9368-5
  • Ed Sherman: Babe Ruth's Called Shot: The Myth and Mystery of Baseball's Greatest Home Run, Lyons Press, Guilford, CT, 2014. ISBN 978-0762785391
  • Thomas Wolf: The Called Shot: Babe Ruth, the Chicago Cubs, and the Unforgettable Major League Baseball Season of 1932, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2020. ISBN 978-0-8032-5524-1