Babe Ruth Daughter on Why He Never Managed: Wouldn't Uphold Color Barrier

Image: Babe Ruth Daughter on Why He Never Managed: Wouldn't Uphold Color Barrier

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 06:23 PM

By Angela Deines

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The 97-year-old daughter of the late Babe Ruth said the baseball legend likely didn’t get to manage a baseball team after his playing days because he would have allowed African-Americans to be on his roster.

Julia Ruth Stevens, the legendary player’s stepdaughter, told The New York Times that her stepfather “really wanted to manage” after he retired in 1935, adding that Ruth often said he would have made a better manager than the Yankees’ Joe McCarthy.

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What prevented Ruth from getting a manager’s job, Stevens believes, was baseball owners’ fears that Ruth would bring black players to the game, not Ruth’s reckless lifestyle.

“Daddy would have had blacks on his team, definitely,” Stevens told the NYT.

It wasn’t until after Ruth married Claire Merritt Hodgson in 1929, his second marriage, that New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert said, “I think Ruth will make a splendid manager. He’s settled down and he’s very serious about his future.”

Ruth, who frequented New York City’s famous Cotton Club, was known to have black athletes and celebrities as friends. Tap dancer Bill Robinson, who was black and famously known as “Bojangles,” was an honorary pallbearer at Ruth’s funeral in 1948.

Stevens told the Times she also remembered Ruth, whom she still calls “Daddy,” speaking fondly of Satchel Paige, who was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1971 and couldn’t play in the major leagues until he was 42 because he was black.

“Daddy thought Satchel Paige was great,” she said, adding that Ruth was smart and concerned about the social issues of the time.

In the interview with the Times’ Peter Kerasotis, Ruth's daughter also talked about the memories she has when Ruth died at the age of 53 from throat cancer and 100,000 people filed past his open coffin at Yankee Stadium.

“The whole idea was to give people a last chance to see him, even if he was dead,” she said. “But I could barely look at him, to see him that way. He looked so sad. But Yankee Stadium belonged to him, and he belonged to the people.”

George Herman Ruth was born in 1895 in Baltimore, Md., and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1936. He finished his career with 714 home runs. According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s website, Ruth earned his nickname in 1914 when his teammates on the Baltimore Orioles’ minor league team referred to him as the team owner Jack Dunn’s “new babe.”

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