Monday, May 01, 2006

Babe Ruth Helps Out a Parish

What a great story. In 1923, Babe Ruth made an apperance in Philadelphia to help a parish pay for its baseball field. The story, from the Philadelphia Inquirer, is definitely worth a read. Here's the intro to the article:

The Babe in Kensington

In '23, the legend helped a parish pay off its ball field.

By Frank Fitzpatrick
Inquirer Staff Writer

Barry Bonds might well surpass Babe Ruth's home-run total when he and the Giants make their only 2006 visit to Citizens Bank Park next weekend.

But you can bet your supply of performance-enhancing substances that Bonds won't duplicate the feat Ruth achieved in Philadelphia on Sept. 4, 1923.

We won't see Bonds, or any other major-leaguer for that matter, playing two nine-inning games with his major-league team and a Catholic parish club on the same day. We won't see him hitting fungoes into a crowd of Kensington youngsters, donning the uniform of that parish team, or dirtying it by stealing home.

Ruth did that, and more, on that busy late-summer Tuesday nearly 83 years ago.

The strange saga - details of which were extracted from the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Archives at St. Charles Seminary - all began when the Rev. William Casey became concerned that the working-class children in the Kensington parish he pastored, Ascension of Our Lord, didn't have enough wholesome activities.

So Casey took out a loan and built them a ball field at I and Tioga Streets.

Soon, it became clear that the workers who toiled at neighborhood factories making Stetson hats and Philco batteries weren't going to be able to put enough extra into the collection plates to pay for handsome Boger Field.

Casey, who also served as the Philadelphia Athletics chaplain, went searching for a money-making scheme. Looking at the A's schedule one afternoon at Shibe Park, he found one.

The two-time defending American League-champion New York Yankees, with their sensational 28-year-old slugger Babe Ruth, were due in town for an early September series. Casey knew that Ruth had grown up at St. Mary's, a Catholic orphanage in Baltimore, and had a soft spot for kids.

When the Yankees visited Philadelphia for a July series, Casey approached Ruth with his proposition: Would he be willing to help him pay off the ball field by participating in a charity game there in September?

"Is it going to help the kids, Father?" Ruth asked.

Assured that a significant ticket sale would indeed help the youngsters, Ruth instantly agreed to participate in the event two months away.


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