Homer No. 51 A Terrific Lick

Damon Runyon

New York American/September 25, 1920

Ruth is Whole Show as Yankees and Griffmen Split a Doubleheader Before Big Crowd

Babe Ruth is the greatest showman of these times.

Nearly 30,000 people went out to the Polo Grounds yesterday hoping to see Ruth hit his 50th home run.

The King of Swat did it in the very first inning of the first game of a doubleheader between the Yankees and Clark Griffith’s Washington club.

The crowd went quite mad for five minutes.

They had witnessed something no other people had ever seen before. Perhaps no one now living will ever see such a thing again.

Then in the first inning of the second game, Ruth hit another home run, increasing his record to 51. His homer in the first game was the only run scored by the Yanks in that game, which was won by Washington, 3 to 1.

His homer in the second game was the first of two runs scored by the Yankees in winning the game by a count of 2 to 1.

Ruth scored the second run in the ninth inning. He started the inning with a two-bagger to right field, making his fourth consecutive hit of Jim Shaw in that game.

When the Washington catcher made a throw to second in an effort to catch Ruth napping, the mighty slugger threw himself back toward the bag, colliding with the Washington shortstop and knocking him over.

Ruth Scores 154th Run of Season

Ruth scrambled to his feet and went on to third, while the ball bounced out into center field.

Derrill Pratt immediately afterward banged a single to left­center, and Ruth crossed the plate with what was not only the winning run, but his 154th run of the season.

This is another new record for the American League. Babe broke Ty Cobb’s record of 147 runs scored in a single season some days ago.

He almost scored another run in the sixth inning of the second game. With the bases full, Ruth tried to steal home, but was tagged out at the plate.

They built a sort of baseball street carnival around the double­header, and Ruth was the whole show. The boys’ band from the Baltimore institution (St. Mary’s Orphanage) where Ruth got his start in baseball, and in life itself for that matter, was stationed in the grandstand back of third base.

This band made the last Western trip with the Yankees, on behalf of a fund to raise money for new buildings to replace some destroyed by fire. Ruth aided in the drive, which was very successful.

Yesterday, between the games, Nick Altrock, the comedian of the Washington club, passed the hat and collected a good sum.

There were thousands of young boys in the crowd. They had been taken by their fathers, who wanted them to see Babe Ruth. When these boys are old men with white whiskers they will still be telling how they saw Babe Ruth hit his 51st home run.

51st Homer Cleared Fence in Right

It was a powerful smash into the right field bleachers over the Piedmont sign. Davy Robertson, once of the Giants and now a Chicago Cub, hit a ball in there several years ago. Ruth’s first homer yesterday landed in the far corner of the upper-right field grandstand.

For a second it looked as if it would clear the stand. It was probably the blow that gave Ruth the greatest pleasure of any he ever struck. The tall fellow with the enormous big body and thin legs trotted around the bases with a smile, which showed all his teeth on his broad face.

George Burns, Slim Sallee and a number of the New York Giants were sitting in the press box. Ed Konetchy and a party of other members of the Brooklyn Dodgers were also present. Your Uncle Wilbert Robinson, manager of the Dodgers, sat in a grand­stand box.

Bill Klem, a National League umpire, saw the game. The old Heinie Zimmerman Boosting and Bawling Out Bund from the Bronx, which used to get behind third base and root for Heinie, was on hand, shouting for Al Schacht, Washington pitcher.

Al is a Bronx boy. He did not work yesterday, but between games he gave a flower dance with Nick Altrock that had the crowd in an uproar. The Yanks couldn’t hit Acosta, the little Cuban, in the first game. Only Ruth hit Shaw with an effect in the second.

Rip Collins started to pitch the second game, but hurt his knee, and retired after a few innings. (Hank) Thormahlen, the left­hander, finished it for him.

(Source: Jim Reisler, ed., “Guys, Dolls and Curveballs,” Da Capo Press, 2005)

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