100 years after big league debut, Babe Ruth is still larger than life

No one called.

Ruth Stevens speculates baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis blackballed her father because the commissioner was a bigot who feared Ruth might integrate the major leagues with black players.

"And he would have," Ruth Stevens said. "He used to play exhibitions with Satchel Paige; he knew lots of Negro players."

Ruth Stevens can't reclaim history but she can close her eyes and play back the magic moments. "I loved to see him take his cap off and wave to the crowd as he ran around the bases," she said.

She remembers not the history-reel shots of an aging, bloated Ruth, but a real man with human flaws and uncommon physical grace. Who might recall that Babe Ruth stole home 10 times?

"He was a beautiful dancer," she said. "He taught me how to dance. The Foxtrot."

Talking about that day in 1948 when Grantland Rice wrote, "Game called by darkness. Let the curtain fall . . . where is the crash of ash against the sphere?" still doesn't come easily to her.

One hundred years after his first game, more than six decades after he left us, Babe Ruth is surely not forgotten.

"I miss him even to this day," his daughter said. "I miss him so much. But his spirit seems to hover over the baseball field."


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