Babe Ruth

I was interested in Babe Ruth as a cultural phenomenon more than as a baseball player.

I started with the the 1992 movie The Babe, starring John Goodman. The point of this film was to portray Ruth as a spoiled five-year old who once in a while did something nice for a kid but was otherwise a brat.

I then watched Headin’ Home, a 1920 silent movie in which Ruth plays himself in a totally fictional version of his rise to stardom.  The only appeal it could possibly have had was to enable fans who, in those days had no access to TV, to see Babe Ruth. Here’s a sampling.

I read Babe, by Robert W. Creamer. I really wanted to like Ruth, but it’s hard to do. Baseball aside, he was selfish, crude and undisciplined. One of his teammates explained what he was like by saying, “Babe just does things.” He meant that he had no inhibitions. If he wanted something, he took it, including a non-stop string of women. He drove his first wife to a series of breakdowns, and only curbed his womanizing tendencies after his second marriage because his wife traveled with him pretty much everywhere.

It was this same determination to do what he wanted that made him famous. Baseball was played small during the early years — bunting, stolen bases, slap hitting. It wasn’t that players couldn’t hit home runs (although for much of the time the ball didn’t travel as far). It’s just that the game wasn’t played that way. Until Ruth came along and did whatever he wanted.

The masses are always transfixed by those few individuals who have no inhibitions. He loved the limelight and was willing to do pretty much anything that anybody asked him to do. There are photos of him in cowboy gear riding on cows, blowing out candles on a birthday cake, hitting a giant ball … And even though he might have been a jerk, most people who knew him seemed to like him. His reputation for being kind to kids — signing autographs for hours and visiting kids in the hospital — is genuine. All that, plus the fact that he was the best player in the most popular sport, accounted for his popularity.

In addition to the movies, like Headin’ Home and The Pride of the Yankees, Ruth stared in a series of shorts in which he taught kids the fundamentals of baseball.

I particularly enjoyed Just Pals. There’s a scene in which Babe is hitting while a kid named Freddy is standing in the right-hand batter’s box paying no attention. He’s lucky Babe didn’t foul one off.

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In Ruth’s defense, he had a rough start to life. His parents ran a saloon in Baltimore. His mom was sick and died when Babe was young. His father was busy and found it easier to dump Ruth in a boys’ home than discipline him and make him go to school. All that may help explain him, but it doesn’t excuse him.

And it’s pretty amazing when you consider that the feats that Barry Bonds accomplished on steroids and HGH, Babe Ruth accomplished on hot dogs and beer.

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American English

We spent a muggy but enjoyable Sunday evening at Recreation Park in Arlington Heights, listening to a Beatles tribute band with Wayne, Holly, Bill and Judy.

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During the last set, I squirmed my way up front with the groupies and taped a song. It isn’t my favorite, but here it is …

 

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Aqua

That’s the name of this skyscraper in Chicago.

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Chicago on the Fourth — Part Two

After lunch, in no particular hurry, and with no particular plan, we wandered in the general direction of Navy Pier. On the bridge across the Chicago River, we noticed that the “T” on the Trump Tower was in shade while the other letters were reflecting the sun. This was screaming for a photo, and we obliged.

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Navy Pier was also crowded, but we bought some ice cream and sat in the shade at the far end and watched the boats and people go by.

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It was a beautiful day, considering it was July, with a pleasant breeze, but all the same, we opted to take the water taxi back to the train station.

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The crowds were sticking around to watch the fireworks, but we headed west on a half-empty train (now, when it wasn’t needed, Metra added some extra trains) and got home around 8:00 after a very relaxing, fun day with great friends.

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Chicago on the Fourth — Part One

We caught the train to Chicago on the Fourth and spent the day in the city with Wayne and Holly. The Metra web site and the recorded message on the phone said the trains were running on the Saturday schedule, but the loud-speaker at the station said they were running on the Sunday schedule. Which meant that the day began with an hour wait in downtown Cary.

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The train, when it finally arrived, was already packed. Wayne and Holly got on at Arlington Heights and had to stand in the vestibule. It was supposed to make every stop, but the conductor announced that it would be an express from that point on and that another train would be added. Why they chose to sparse Sunday schedule on a holiday Friday when it was packed is a mystery only those who make decisions in Illinois can explain.

We connected with Wayne and Holly and walked to Millennium Park in time to see the Grant Park Orchestra rehearsing their patriotic concert to be held later in the day. Their daughter, Dayna plays in the orchestra, but wasn’t there on this day.

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We found seats in the shade and settled in. When the music was boring, I tried to figure out why the lights in the ceiling were arranged asymmetrically. The orchestra was jumping around some in the program, so I never knew what they would play next. I grabbed my phone to record a song and ended up with “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. Not the first thing I think of when I think of patriotic songs, but here you go.

 

They took a break half way through the practice, so I wandered over by the bean and bought a (warm) Diet Pepsi and a bag of potato chips. The crowds were huge.

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I tried again on the final song and this time got “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

From Millennium Park, we wandered to a nearby Mariano’s where we found an outdoor grill tucked back in an alcove between tall buildings. We bought cheeseburgers and sausages and had a relaxing chat overlooking a nicely-landscaped park.

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After the Storm

The view out my study window shortly after a thunderstorm blew through.

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Teddy Roosevelt’s Guide to Reading

1. “The room for choice is so limitless that to my mind it seems absurd to try to make catalogues which shall be supposed to appeal to all the best thinkers. This is why I have no sympathy whatever with writing lists of the One Hundred Best Books, or the Five-Foot Library. It is all right for a man to amuse himself by composing a list of a hundred very good books… But there is no such thing as a hundred books that are best for all men, or for the majority of men, or for one man at all times.”

2. “A book must be interesting to the particular reader at that particular time.”

3. “Personally, the books by which I have profited infinitely more than by any others have been those in which profit was a by-product of the pleasure; that is, I read them because I enjoyed them, because I liked reading them, and the profit came in as part of the enjoyment.”

4. “The reader, the booklover, must meet his own needs without paying too much attention to what his neighbors say those needs should be.”

5. “He must not hypocritically pretend to like what he does not like.”

6. “Books are almost as individual as friends. There is no earthly use in laying down general laws about them. Some meet the needs of one person, and some of another; and each person should beware of the booklover’s besetting sin, of what Mr. Edgar Allan Poe calls ‘the mad pride of intellectuality,’ taking the shape of arrogant pity for the man who does not like the same kind of books.”

7. “Now and then I am asked as to ‘what books a statesman should read,’ and my answer is, poetry and novels – including short stories under the head of novels.”

8. “Ours is in no sense a collector’s library. Each book was procured because some one of the family wished to read it. We could never afford to take overmuch thought for the outsides of books; we were too much interested in their insides.”

9. “[We] all need more than anything else to know human nature, to know the needs of the human soul; and they will find this nature and these needs set forth as nowhere else by the great imaginative writers, whether of prose or of poetry.”

10. “Books are all very well in their way, and we love them at Sagamore Hill; but children are better than books.”

He also said: “I as emphatically object to nothing but heavy reading as I do to nothing but light reading — all that is indispensable being that the heavy and the light reading alike shall be both interesting and wholesome.

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Fence

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Andrew and Lindy

My daughter is getting married in two months. Her fiance, Andrew, is in the Army, stationed in Missouri. He was able to come home for four days, so I volunteered to take some engagement photos for them. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I gave it my best shot and I’m fairly happy with the results.

We headed over to Main Street Prairie, where I’ve taken so many photos in the past. We saw one guy (illegally) walking his three dogs there, but otherwise, we had the place to ourselves.

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This next shot was Andrew’s idea.

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It was explained to me that a soldier, when in uniform, has to have his hat on.

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I told them to pretend like they were entering this building. Andrew put his hands like this and I asked him what he was doing. He said that’s what his sergeant always does when he shows how to handle a gun.

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I told them I’d take this next photo, but I didn’t understand it. Andrew explained that it was “Charlie’s Angels.” I said I knew that, but I still didn’t understand it.

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I thought it was funny that we were out in a field and Andrew was in camouflage while Lindy was wearing bright red.

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Raincloud over Hoxie

Raincloud over Hoxie

Hoxie, Arkansas

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