The Babe fought the wall, and the wall won

Posted on January 4, 2016 Updated on January 4, 2016

Just days after the New York Times said he was “too badly crippled to play,” Babe Ruth kicked his motor into overdrive, bad hip and all, and hustled around the dirt of the Yankee Stadium infield for his 28h home run of the season.

Big deal. Another Babe Ruth home run.

No, wait!

It was a big deal. This was no ordinary 400-foot-plus Ruthian blast in which the slugger could jog base to base, taking his sweet time as if he were strolling through Central Park. This homer was of the inside the park variety in which the Sultan of Swat was forced to become the Tsar of Zoom.

It was a remarkable feat for Ruth, who on July 5, 1924, had knocked himself silly — he was out cold for five minutes, The Washington Post said — and injured his hip by running smack into the concrete wall that separated the playing field from the seats and spectators at Griffith Stadium. The Babe’s unpleasant meeting with the concrete slab happened in the fourth inning as he was chasing a long fly ball hit down the right field line by the Senators’ left Joe Judge.

Ruth had feared a rude meeting with the wall since he first played at the Washington, D.C. ballpark. On this day, his nightmare became reality.

When the Babe came through, Yankees manager Miller Huggins wanted his right fielder to exit the game, but the Bambino refused and hit a double later in the contest. The Yanks won, 2–0, over the first-place Washington club.

After the nightcap — the Senators got revenge with a 7–2 triumph — the Babe was examined diagnosed with a bruised pelvic bone. The injury hampered him for days, but it did not hinder his on-field performance.

The next day, the Bambino went 3-for-4 and hit his 22nd home run of the season — this one cleared the fence — in a 7–4 win over the Senators in Washington. The Yankees had an off day and traveled back to New York Monday, giving Ruth a much-needed rest. The Yanks hosted the Chicago White Sox for a Tuesday doubleheader in the Bronx. Ruth was a combined 3-for-5 in those games in which the two clubs split wins.

Ruth’s play at the plate didn’t suffer, but he did. Huggins gave the Bambino the day off from starting on Wednesday, and The New York Times reported the following day that “Ruth, who is too badly crippled to play, is worried over the condition of his side.”

On Tuesday against the White Sox, Huggins sent Ruth to the plate “limping and glowering,” and he belted a pinch-hit single that scored two runs. The timely hit, however, “failed to cheer him up,” the New York Times reported of Ruth.

His hip was examined once more.

“Two x-rays were made of the side after Tuesday’s game, but they failed to show any broken or fractured bones,” wrote the Times.

On July 20, the Yankees hosted the Cleveland Indians for a doubleheader in the Bronx. The Yankees won the opener, 4–1. Ruth was hitless. In Game 2, he grabbed his bat to face Cleveland righty hurler Dewey Metivier, who had replaced the ineffective Joe Dawson in the second inning.

Metivier had just taken to the mound when Ruth stepped up. The Yankees had two on and one out when the Indians’ pitcher threw his pitch. Ruth smacked it right back at him.

In fact, the ball hit the pitcher’s glove and “continued on its way unmolested to the center-field fence,” reported the New York Times.

The baseball ricocheted off the outfield wall and bounded back toward the Yankee Stadium flagpole, which was in play. “In the meantime,” the Times continued, “Ruth was dashing round the bases. He just reached third as [center fielder Tris] Speaker picked up the ball. The relay was poor but Ruth crossed the plate long before the ball could have reached there.”

The Babe had just blasted an inside the park home run.

Not bad for a fella with bum hip.

The Yankees scored five runs in that half inning, and Ruth received a rousing ovation from the more than 50,000 fans when he returned to right field to begin the top of the third. The defending World Series champions went on the to win 10–4 and swept the double dip from the Indians, increasing their lead to a game and a half over the Detroit Tigers in the American League race.

The Babe’s inside the park home was one of 10 he hit in his career. He delivered four in Yankee Stadium during its inaugural season in 1923.

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Originally published at erniesplaceblog.wordpress.com on January 4, 2016.

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