Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 6: Batterin' Babe, Look at Him Now

(image from The American Treasures of the Library of Congress)

Time to dust off the shelves and take a look back into the history at one of the most talked about baseball players of all time. You know his name, you know his bigger then life swing and swagger. Now, it's time to learn about the man, the time he played, and the music that carries his name.

BSOD 6: Batterin' Babe, Look at Him Now
Words and Music: Jack O'Brien
Published: St. Mary's Industrial School
Performed at Stadiums: 1920

In the late 1920's Babe Ruth and the Yankees had some unusual companions traveling with them. The book, "The Life that Ruth Built: A Biography" by Marshall Smelser, tells the account of how a fire burned down the St. Mary's Industrial School. Local groups such as the Baltimore Elks club and the National Catholic War Council raised around $4,000 for music, instruments, etc. A exhibition baseball game was organized to help raise up to $500,000 to rebuild the school, and the Babe pitched for the Baltimore Dry Docks team. Actual donations at that point reached around $178,000. Babe then persuaded the Yankees to let the school boys' band travel and play to raise awareness and funds for the project.

In each city, the band of around 50 children, average age around 14, traveled from their lodgings to the ball parks and played until the game started. A song, which the band first performed on September 8, 1920 was titled, "Batterin' Babe, Look at Him Now."

The lyrics were sang in unison...

Batterin' Babe, Look at Him Now Lyrics

Look at him now, and think of all the games he has won
And how he whacks the homers when the Yankees need a run
We know he's broken records, we're sure he'll break some more
Can't you hear those bleachers roar (Yow)
He hears the call, and then the ball is sailin' in the sky
A mile away it kills a cow (Vow)
And if a bandit on the border gets a baseball in the eye
Put the blame on Babe
Look at him now (Wow)
Look at him now

After their performance of the song, the Babe would routinely hold up his hand, spell the applause, and make a plea for donations. The tour lasted over 2,500 miles and performed in stadiums up to 400,000 people in attendance. After expenses, the net profit was almost near $14,000. This amount was nowhere near the total needed, but the good-will, the experience gained by the youngsters, and the attention gathered much publicity towards the new building. The Babe donated $4,100 himself, which was one fifth of his annual salary.

To learn more about the Babe and this fantastic musical story and baseball history, read the book, "The Life that Ruth Built: A Biography" by Marshall Smelser.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder which of today's players would give one fifth of their salary to a charity? maybe that pitcher from milwaukee... the starter that was in st. louis... I herd he does good things.


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