The Babe’s “Exile”

12 Aug

After a disappointing 1922 season, Babe Ruth vowed to reform; or as Davis Walsh, sports editor for The International News Service put it:

“A few days hence the worthy Mr. Ruth will say farewell to Broadway, its night life and the scurrilous journals which persist in printing his escapades under cover of the subtle innuendo, and proceed in leisure to his farm at Sudbury, Massachusetts, for the winter.  That is the program he has outlined for himself.  Whether he will care to follow it as religiously as his chastened mood of the present dictates is another matter.”

Edward Thierry, of The Newspaper Enterprise Association, was one of the reporters who traveled to Sudbury that winter to see if Ruth had stuck to the plan:

“This is where you come if you want to see Babe Ruth in his farmer makeup.”

But Thierry said Ruth wasn’t always in Sudbury that winter as promised:

“’Hear you’ve given up the bright lights and are living the simple life?’ we said, coming in out of the cold and joining him before the fire in the big farmhouse sitting room.

“Ruth grunted assent and yawned.

“’Lonely, isn’t it?’ we suggested.

‘”Some,’ said the slugger.  ‘Not so bad though.  You see, I run down to New York every Monday—it makes the week go faster!’

“Ruth said he hadn’t missed a Monday yet; by the time he gets home from New York the week is half gone.  He drives down usually is his $9,600 limousine and is proud of the fact that he covers the 200 miles from Sudbury, which is 20 miles west of Boston, in five a half hours.

“The farm comprises 160 acres and didn’t produce anything much last season.  Ruth said he hadn’t decided what to do with it; but he’s going to have some chicken coops built this winter.”

Ruth told Thierry:

“’The air’s good around here,’ he said, ‘there’s some fishing in Pratt’s pond, and a little hunting.  Not much to do but chop wood.  I’ve done some of that.’”

Ruth fishing in Sudbury

Ruth fishing in Sudbury

Thierry said:

“The home run king was wearing a coonskin cap, a blue flannel shirt and sweater, old trousers and high-laced boots.  He looked to be in good shape, not so fat as he appeared in a baseball uniform last season.

“’I’ve taken some off the waist line,’ he said.  ‘It used to be 45.  Now it’s 39.  Haven’t weighed lately though.’

“Aside from some wood chopping and limousine work, Ruth’s chief exercise is bowling.  He goes over to Waltham some evenings to bowl.

“The house is one of those monstrosities created by building haphazard additions to the original structure.  Ruth said he was going to have a sun-parlor built on one end, and hardwood floors put down throughout.

Thierry said Ruth was attended to by a couple who cared for the property, a cook and a chauffeur.

“Mrs. (Helen) Ruth, swathed in a fur coat, was leaving in the machine for a day’s trip to Boston when we arrived…The baby, Dorothy Helen, who Ruth says will be two in February, came running when Ruth called: ‘Dot!  Come to papa!’

Ruth with "Dot" in Sudbury

Ruth with “Dot” in Sudbury

Ruth seems very proud of the baby, who looks such a tiny mite beside his tremendous bulk, and he spends hours playing with her.”

By late December, Ruth sent a letter to Tillinghast L’Hommedieu “Cap” Huston, who was about to retire and sell his share in the club to co-owner Jacob Rupert:

“I don’t care where the fences are.  I can hit ‘em anywhere.”

Ruth also added that his weight was down to “210 and dropping.”

Part-time behaving, and wood chopping and bowling and “Dot” paid off.  Ruth hit .393, with 41 home runs and 130 RBI for the 1923 World Series Champions.

Robert Edgren, most famous for his drawings from Cuba which appeared in Hearst Newspapers in 1898 and helped fuel public support of the Spanish-American War , drew his take on Ruth's winter of 1922 activities in The New York Evening Journal.

Robert Edgren, most famous for his 1898 drawings from Cuba in Hearst Newspapers that helped fuel public support for the Spanish-American War, drew his take on Ruth’s winter of 1922 activities in The New York Evening Journal

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