Babe Ruth takes batting practice at Wrigley Field before a World Series game in 1932. | Mark Rucker~Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images
Updated: August 3, 2011 10:39PM
The setting: Oct. 1, 1932, Game 3 of the World Series. The Yankees led the Cubs 2-0 in the
Series. Babe Ruth hit a three-run home run in the first inning, but the score was 4-4 when he stepped to the plate with one out in the fifth. A crowd of 49,986 was packed into Wrigley Field.
Dissing Wrigley: During batting practice, Ruth and teammate Lou Gehrig were putting on a home-run display, prompting fans to toss
lemons at ‘‘The Babe.’’ Ruth supposedly
remarked on the bandbox dimensions of Wrigley Field by saying: ‘‘I’d play for half of my salary if I could play in a dump like this.’’
Fact and friction: Facing pitcher Charlie Root, Ruth worked the count to 2-2 while taking a rash of abuse from the Cubs’ dugout. Before the next pitch, Ruth stepped out of the box and gestured — either toward the mound, toward the center-field wall to show where the next pitch would land or toward the home dugout to stress he had one more strike left. Video evidence shows Ruth made a gesture, and he knocked the next pitch over the center-field wall.
The day after: A sports editor for the New York World-Telegram wrote this headline: ‘‘Ruth Calls Shot as He Puts Home Run No. 2 in the Side Pocket.’’ Reporters around the country picked up the tale. Gehrig supposedly said: ‘‘What do you think of the nerve of that big monkey, calling his shot and getting away with it?’’ Root wasn’t playing along, saying: ‘‘If he had made that gesture, I would have knocked him down with the next pitch.’’
Did you know? It was Ruth’s last World
Series, and the home run in question was his last in the Fall Classic.
Supreme Court ruling: Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired from the bench last summer at 90, grew up in Chicago and attended the World Series game in
question. In a string of interviews, including one with reporter Scott Pelley for ‘‘60 Minutes,’’ Stevens insisted Ruth called his shot.
Stevens: ‘‘He took the bat in his right hand and pointed it right at the center-field stands. And then, of course, the next pitch he hit a home run to center field. There’s no doubt about the fact that he did point before he hit the ball.’’
Pelley: ‘‘So the called shot actually happened?’’
Stevens: ‘‘There’s no doubt about that.’’
Pelley: ‘‘That’s your ruling?’’
Stevens: ‘‘That’s my ruling.’’
Pelley: ‘‘Case closed.’’
Stevens: ‘‘That’s one ruling I will not be reversed on.’’