The Called Shot - October 1, 1932
A heavier, slower and older Babe Ruth had
much more to prove in 1932. And prove he did! Batting .341, driving in 137
runs, slugging 41 homers, the Sultan of Swat pushed the New York Yankees
to another pennant. The Cubs of Chicago were the opposition in the World
There was bad recent history between the two teams. Joe McCarthy had been
let go as Chicago manager in 1930. He wanted payback. Ruth's old buddy,
Mark Koenig, now a Cub, had helped his new team win the pennant. His
Chicago teammates voted Ruth's old buddy only a half World Series share.
The Babe was not happy about that.
On October l in Chicago during batting practice Ruth shouted: "Hey, you
damn bum Cubs, you won't be seeing Yankee Stadium again. This is going to
be all over Sunday." The Babe was referring to the fact that the Yanks had
won the first two games in New York. The game got underway before 49,
986. Lemons from the stands and curses from the Cubs were heaped upon the
Yankees. Chicago fans showered Ruth with fruits and vegetables and other
projectiles when he was on defense in the outfield. The Babe smiled,
doffed his cap, felt the fire.
When he came to bat in the fifth inning, Ruth had already slugged a three
run homer into the bleachers in right centerfield. He had more in
store. Right-hander Charlie Root got a strike on Ruth, who as accounts go,
raised up one big finger and yelled "strike one!"
Another fast ball strike. Ruth, as the story continues, raised two fingers
and bellowed "strike two!"
Then as the story has been handed down, the 38-year-old Yankee legend
stepped out of the batter's box and pointed. Some said he pointed at Root;
others said the pointed at the Chicago bench, others said at the
"To tell the truth," Joe McCarthy said, "I didn't see him point anywhere
at all. But maybe I turned my head for a moment."
"The Babe pointed out to right field," said George Pipgras who pitched and
won that game, "and that's where he hit the ball."
The count was 2-2 when Babe swung from his heels. Johnny Moore, the
Chicago centerfielder started back, then stopped. The ball disappeared
into the right field bleachers, 436 feet from home plate, the l5th and
last World Series home run for Babe Ruth, the longest home run ever hit to
that point in time in Wrigley Field.
"As I hit the ball," Ruth would say later, "every muscle in my system,
every sense I had, told me that I had never hit a better one, that as long
as I lived nothing would ever feel as good as this one."
Chicago fans cheered and applauded the Babe as he rounded the bases
yelling out a different curse for each Cub infielder. When the "Sultan of
Swat" reached third base, he paused. Then he bowed toward the Chicago
dugout. Then he came across home plate.
Through the years the debate has continued. Did he or did he not call the
Babe Ruth explained:
"I didn't exactly point to any spot like the flagpole. I just sorta waved
at the whole fence, but that was foolish enough. All I wanted to do was
give the thing a ride...outta the park...anywhere. "Every time I went to
the bat the Cubs on the bench would yell ' Oogly googly.'It's all part of
the game, but this particular inning when I went to bat there was a whole
chorus of oogly googlies. The first pitch was a pretty good strike, and I
didn't kick. But the second was outside and turned around to beef about
it. As I said, Gabby Hartnett said 'Oogly googly.'That kinda burned me and
I said 'All right, you bums, I'm gonna knock this one a mile.' I guess I
# # #
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Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
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"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
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