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

In Pictures: Expression Sessions hangs ten

Wave gods smile on the 10th edition of the Haida Gwaii surf festival

Haida Gwaii Sea Cadets set sail

Some young salts joined the Remembrance Day parade in Queen Charlotte last… Continue reading

Rough seas delay Prince Rupert/Haida Gwaii ferry

Northern Expedition is expected to leave Prince Rupert for Haida Gwaii at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 13

In Pictures: Remembrance Day in Queen Charlotte

Drums, bells and bagpipes sounded across Haida Gwaii this Remembrance Day, which… Continue reading

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Most Read