The Babe Ruth Museum's celebration of the Babe's 100th birthday is in full swing. The museum has a four-hour "Ruthian Tour" of historic Babe Ruth spots planned for July 8, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The tour will include lunch and refreshments at Camden Yards. The cost is $20 for museum members and $25 for nonmembers. Tickets are on sale through tomorrow and can be ordered by calling (410) 727-1539. The Sun's Jason LaCanfora spoke recently with museum executive director Michael Gibbons.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the tour?
A: Last year, when we were planning to celebrate the 100th birthday centennial year, we thought it was an appropriate way to kick off the ceremonies, by introducing the tour. We are taking people to a lot of Ruthian spots around town. Something like this has never been done before.
Q: Where will the tour go?
A: There are six locations. We start at St. Mary's Industrial School, which is now Cardinal Gibbons High School. The playing field from Babe's day is still there, and that is a pretty special thing to take a look at. From there, we go to the place where Babe Ruth was married in 1914, after his first professional baseball season. He brought down his fiancee from Massachusetts all the way to Ellicott City, which is nowhere near where Babe lived, because he was a little nervous he might get in a little trouble with the brothers [from school] for getting married so young. Next, we head to the location of his father's gravesite. Babe's dad died breaking up a fight in front of his tavern. Then, we go to two of the scenes where his father's saloons were located. The first is at Camden Yards [center field of the ballpark], the George H. Ruth saloon. When Babe got married, he and his new wife lived above that bar the whole winter in nuptial bliss. Then, we go to the spot where his father had his last saloon; that is where he tried to break up the fight. That saloon still stands. It's now a show bar. We complete the tour at the Babe Ruth Birthplace. Everyone will get a box lunch, and we'll take everyone back to the Cardinal Gibbons parking lot to pick up their cars.
Q: Has museum attendance been up this year?
A: For the first five months of the year, we set the all-time record for attendance. June went quite well. When the Red Sox were here, we had one of the outstanding single-day attendance records in the history of the organization. A lot of Red Sox fans came down from Boston, because the Sox are winning. The word has gotten out that Babe is from Baltimore, and people know we're here.
Q: On a national level, do you think people associate Babe with New York or Boston, more so than with Baltimore?
A: Absolutely. All we're trying to do is to establish his roots here. He learned the game here. Our mission is to make this part of his life as celebrated as we can make it. What happened to him here in Baltimore set the pace for what could happen to him later.