70 years after Babe Ruth’s death, fans still flock to grave

After Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53, tens of thousands of fans came to pay respects

Amid the serene graves at Gate of Heaven Cemetery sits the one where visitors leave baseballs and bats instead of bouquets, tributes to a baseball superstar who still outshines others seven decades after his death.

It’s the resting place of Babe Ruth, the indelible slugger and larger-than-life personality who died Aug. 16, 1948.

Considered by many to be the greatest player in baseball history, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox legend set home run records — 60 in one season, 714 in his career — that stood for decades, and he remains one of the sport’s defining figures. If someone knows one name in baseball, it’s likely his: the Sultan of Swat, the Bambino, the Babe, or, officially, George Herman (Babe) Ruth.

Ruth began as a left-handed pitcher and became a slugging outfielder, playing for 22 major-league seasons before retiring in 1935. In his prime, he would hit more home runs personally than some entire teams would, and he was known for his flair on and off the field. Former President George H.W. Bush once wrote that although he got to attend many enjoyable events as president and vice-president, meeting Ruth at Yale University while Bush was a student and baseball team captain there “topped them all.”

After Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53, tens of thousands of fans came to pay respects as his body laid in state for two days at the original Yankee Stadium, dubbed “The House That Ruth Built.” People jammed the streets around St. Patrick’s Cathedral during his funeral.

At his grave at the suburban cemetery owned by St. Patrick’s trustees, visitors over the years have left countless bats, balls, caps, and T-shirts, as well as beer, whiskey, cigars, hot dogs and once even an entire sausage-pepper-and-onion pizza to honour a man known for his prodigious appetites, field superintendent John Garro said.

Another time, he said, someone asked — unsuccessfully — to sleep over in the cemetery in the run-up to Boston’s 2004 World Series win. It ended an 86-year drought that fans called “the curse of the Bambino,” supposedly cast upon the Red Sox for sending Ruth to the Yankees. The grave was so heavily visited during Boston’s 2004 World Series run that two cemetery workers were assigned specifically to watch over it, Garro said.

The tributes continue to proliferate quickly enough that workers tidy up every other week and do a more thorough clear-out every couple of months.

Still, “we like to keep some stuff there,” Garro said, “because it keeps the whole thing going.”

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Chilliwack Chiefs erase three goal deficit in overtime win

Down 3-0 to the Cowichan Capitals, the Chiefs came back to win 4-3 in the BCHL Showcase match.

Chilliwack man feeling helpless about puppy stolen while at church

Evidence of neighbour trespassing and accusing him of dog neglect not enough for RCMP

UPDATE: Missing Chilliwack man has been found

Chilliwack RCMP is thanking the public for keeping an eye out

UPDATED: Chilliwack councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read