February 1927 Part II:(Excerpt from Five O'Clock
Lighting: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the 1927 New York Yankees, The
Greatest Baseball Team Ever)
This 1927 spring was a different spring, a different Babe Ruth, one
more circumspect and more caring about taking care of his body.
Actually, after the 1925 season, during which he weighed more than
250 pounds and played abysmally, the Sultan of Swat for the first
time started to watch (somewhat) what he ate and drank.
His first appearance in spring training 1927 was filled with hype,
hullabaloo and hoopla as befitted the King of clout. Reporters
swarmed about, crowded around him. They looked him over. All the
stories about the terrific shape he was in seemed true. The great
Ruth announced in that deep voice of his that had just a hint of a
Southern accent: "I never felt better in my life. I weigh 223 pounds
and will lose only 3 pounds while here."
Showing off his expanded 47 inch chest, he bragged about the
hardened belly. "Hit me," he smiled. Hit me as hard as you can." One
of the more intrepid scribes, James R. Harrison of The Times, went
for the suggestion. Ruth took the poke, feigned some pain, kept on
"Twenty four gaping rookies stood at attention as he sauntered
through the lobby of the hotel," Ford C. Frick, wrote in the New
York Evening Journal, "and flocks of femininity dogged his footsteps
to the very portals of the elevator where a flunkey in uniform
barred the way.. . .The Babe was friendly to all, smiling, bowing,
yelling in a hoarse voice to teammates."
That morning he played golf, a round of 92, violating the training
rule set by Miller Huggins that banned participation in the sport by
players except on Sundays.
"Special permission," Huggins explained to reporters was given to
"The Big Bam," the New York Evening World's Arthur Mann wrote:
"shags flies to begin the day's work, fields bunts, and then warms
up with a catcher. By this time he is ready to go into the box, and
there he remains, pitching for about 25 minutes. His batting
practice consists of about 12 good wallops."
Billy Sunday made a visit to the Yankee training camp. Ex-major
leaguer, ex-drunk, celebrated revivalist, umpire and scribe, he hit
some balls - one was a shot he got good wood on that according to
one scribe "was still smoking."
Smoking, characterized the way many Yankees reacted to a Billy
Sunday comment: "Of all the ball clubs I have looked at this spring
the Athletics are by far the most impressive. The club doesn't
appear to have a single weakness."
But Sunday was not the only one with the pro-Philly point of view.
The New York Betting Commission had installed the Philadelphia
Athletics favorites to win the pennant because of their addition of
veterans like Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins and Zach Wheat. Only 9 of 42
writers polled gave the Yanks any chance to repeat as pennant
winners. American League President Ban Johnson predicted a
historic-five team pennant race. An AP poll of 100 players and
"baseball experts" tabbed the Athletics to win it all.
Grantland Rice writing in the New York Herald-Tribune said: "From
present indications, the American League race figures as follows:
Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St.
Professional odds makers set the Athletics at 2-1, the Yankees at
3-1, the Senators at 7-2 Harvey Frommer is his 34th consecutive year
of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the
classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and
Ragtime Baseball," his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative
history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as
well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"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
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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