Babe Ruth Not Quite Fading Away

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader/June 4, 1935

It has been a matter of common knowledge to the baseball fans of the land that their old idol, Babe Ruth, had reached the spot marked X – he now says it is double X—of his active career.

They knew that Boston was merely the hopping off place, the end of the last long mile, the boneyard. Perhaps the great Ruth knew it, too, as he unpacked his satchel there with a spurious smile of hope on his fat features, and mumbled that he was delighted to get “back home.”

If there had been any doubt in his mind that the shadows were lengthening across his baseball path, it must have been speedily dispelled soon after the opening of the season when he found the old immutable law of average looking him in the eye, and when the cheers suddenly curdled into rawzberries, as they say in Boston town.

But it is characteristic of Babe Ruth that when he realized that the jig was up he did not sling off into the darkness of his 21 years of baseball without ado. He put his going where all his doings have been for many years—right on the first pages of the newspapers, with big headlines. Even a Babe Ruth stomachache was always entitled to that sort of billing, surely a Ruth hail, and half-farewell, could draw no less.

Few Homers Left

Of the Babe’s quarrel with that kindly, well-meaning, but somewhat baseballically bewildered gentleman, Judge Emil Fuchs, we have no comment to make. The Judge’s signing of Ruth, if he anticipated any real baseball service from the once mighty slugger, was an error in the beginning.

That Ruth has a few home runs left in his system, and always will have, there can be no doubt. The batting eye is last to go in the fog of time. But few believe that Ruth, 41 years old, could be of any great baseball value to a club across another season, and there was doubt that an ex-king could accustom himself to the small inconveniences of a mere subject.

Ruth served some purpose to Fuchs in the matter of a little passing publicity, to be sure. There will always be some publicity in Ruth as long as he lives. But the baseball fans will never be appeased by publicity when they are looking for home runs, and if Ruth does not know that, his years of service have taught him nothing.

His passing from the active game has been a foregone conclusion for some time, but old ball players, like all established public characters, hate to give up. Ruth may yet become a great manager. He will never again be a great player, yet his greatness in baseball history is such that he will be the measuring mark for many years to come.

New Bantam Champ

After six years the bantamweight division has a new world champion in Sanchili, of Spain, who beat the veteran titleholder, Panama Al Brown, in 15 rounds at Valencia, Sunday.

Sonchili is unknown outside his homeland, and was first heard of in the sporting news when he got a decision over Brown not long ago. He is apparently an authentic bantam, as he weighed in at 117¼. The bantamweight mark is 118 pounds.

Brown, a Panamanian Negro, has been an absentee titleholder for years as far as this country is concerned, doing most of his fighting abroad. But until Canchili came along they have been unable to dig up a legitimate bantamweight who classed with the Negro.

In the national boxing consensus of 1934 Brown hung up a new record in the nine-year life of the concensus when he was picked as the first bantam of the world for the sixth consecutive time. The pickers are boxing writers who each year rate the first ten boxers of every division.

Few Were Prominent

Probably few American boxing fans can, offhand, name six bantamweights of any prominence or ability, so greatly has the division deteriorated.

Brown, a tall, stringy fellow, came to the title in 1929 largely by claim. The early ’20’s were the last big days of the division. New York’s Joe Lynch, now a boxing judge, won the title from Pete Herman, of New Orleans, in 1920 and lost it back to Herman the following year.

Then Johnny Buff, of New Jersey, beat Herman to a decision and Buff was knocked out by Lynch in 1922. Abe Goldstein, a New Yorker, won the title from Lynch by decision, and lost it to Cannonball Eddie Martin. Martin was whipped by Charley Phil Rosenberg, a good little fighter, who forfeited the title because of inability to make the weight in 1927, and who afterward fell into bad company and wound up in plenty of trouble.

Bud Taylor Was Best

It was now that the bantam championship, once held by some of the greatest fighters in the boxing game, George Dixon, Terry McGovern, Jimmy Barry, Frankie Neil, Johnny Coulin, Kid Williams, fell into disuse.

Buddy Taylor, of Terre Haute, Ind., was undoubtedly the best of them all around 1927 and 1928, but the New York commission would never recognize him. In 1929 Panama Al Brown beat Vidal Gregorio and claimed the title, and while it was a vague and shadowy claim in the beginning, he built it into general recognition.

Eugene Huat, of France, beat Brown in Canada and claimed the title, but Brown later whipped Huat. Boxing associations made several attempts to legislate Brown out of his claim, but he kept licking bantamweights all over Europe until it came to be generally agreed that the man who beat him would have to be accepted as the champ.

Meantime, America developed no bantamweights of any class. The last concensus mentions Brown, Sixto Escobar, Speedy Dado, Pablo Dano, Young Tommy, Joe Tei Ken, Lou Salica, Little Pancho, Indiana Quintana and Darky Blandon, one United States born in the bunch.


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