Series Highlight: Game 3 - Babe Ruth's Called Shot
Over the years, the sports world has provided fans with moments that seem to transcend our wildest dreams and imaginations. From Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game to Michael Jordan’s NBA Finals dominance while suffering from the flu; from the "Miracle on Ice" to Gretzky’s 50 goals in 39 games; from "The Drive" engineered by John Elway to the epic ending of the 2013 Auburn-Alabama game that ending with a 110-yard return by Auburn off a missed field goal to top #1 ranked Bama. Baseball has endured for more than 150 years and offered some of the most magnificent moments in sports history, but none more mythical than "Babe Ruth’s Called Shot." His much-debated and relatively ambiguous gesture at the plate during the 1932 World Series will go down in history as one of the most amazing, yet most disputed moments in baseball folklore.
The 1932 World Series was a spirited battle between the National League Champion Chicago Cubs and American League Champion New York Yankees led by Babe Ruth in his final World Series appearance. The Yankees throttled the Cubs 12-6 in Game 1 and then snuck past them once more 5-2 in Game 2 heading to Chicago for Games 3-5. On a cool October 1st night, Cubs starter Charlie Root was called upon to face Ruth, Lou Gehrig and "Murderers’ Row" before nearly 50,000 screaming Chicago fans. Each team continually rode the opposing team’s players and Ruth only exacerbated the ribbing from Cubs fans and players boasting that he would "play for half my salary if I could hit in a dump like this (Wrigley Field). " So, the Friendly Confines were less than hospitable toward the Bambino. But Ruth and Yankees went about their business and quickly jumped ahead on a 1st inning Ruth home run. Gehrig, too, smashed a dinger in the 3rd, but the Cubs kept pace as Kiki Cuyler blasted a homer and the game was tied 4-4 heading into the 5th inning. With one out, razzing and taunting from the Cubs dugout were relentless as Ruth stepped into the batters box and the din in the stadium was deafening when the crowd joined in. Not one to back down, The Babe threw back a few barbs of his own, but eventually, as was his demeanor, he let his bat speak for him. Not thrilled with the first two called strikes, Ruth worked the count to 2-2 before stepping out of the box to gather himself. The crowd was so loud and boisterous, Cubs players were coming out of the dugout, cupping their hands over their mouths so that Ruth could here them. According to Gabby Hartnett (as told by fellow Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Herman), Ruth antagonized the Cubs bench, who were "riding him pretty hard" when he announced "that’s only two strikes". It was here that the conjecture and presumption arose when Ruth seemingly gestured, either in response to the Cubs razzing or actually calling his shot, toward center or left field. Seconds later, legend was born as Ruth tattooed the ball over the fence in deep center field. Charlie Root was then driven from the game when Lou Gehrig, the very next batter, hit his second homer of the day over the right field wall and the Yankees went on to beat the Cubs 7-5 and proceed to sweep the four-game series. This was also the final World Series that the Bambino would appear in, retiring three years later.
Through the years, amateur video and photos have emerged, but no single shot or frame reveals a definitive gesture of "calling his shot." Babe Ruth was larger than life during his life and figure of mythical proportion. Hollywood has perpetuated this event both in cartoons and on the big screen. Similar depictions can be seen in the 1984 film The Natural, the 1989 film Major League and the animated series The Simpsons – "Homer at the Bat." Babe Ruth’s achievements and heroics will withstand the test of time, going down in the annals of baseball lore as almost fables and few moments in his storied career will be more remembered than his 1932 World Series "called shot."