Ghost of the Babe Helps Lift Boy’s Spirits
Babe Ruth might have played his last baseball game, but he can still impact the game he loved as he proved last Saturday in Cleveland.
“I was just hovering over the field, like I do sometimes” said the Great Bambino, “when I heard a young boy ask a couple of the guys to hit some out for him, and I couldn’t resist.”
The boy he was referring to is Niko Lanzarotta, an 8 year old resident of Strongsville, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy before his first birthday. While watching his favorite team, the Cleveland Indians take batting practice on the field that day, Niko asked two players Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis to hit home runs for him.
According to Santana, “They told me I was their favorite player, and I promised to hit a home run for him.”
What Santana didn’t know, was that he had a baseball legend determined to make sure that he would keep that promise. According to the Sultan of Swat, when he heard Niko make his request, he thought back to a promise he himself had made to Johnny Sylvester, a young boy who had been hospitalized after being kicked in the head by a horse. Ruth promised the boy that he would hit a homer for him in Game 4 of the 1926 World Series against the St Louis Cardinals, and followed through on his pledge that day by hitting three balls out of the park.
Said the Babe, “I remembered how much those knocks meant to Johnny, and I wanted to make sure that Niko could have the same experience.”
So before Carlos Santana came to the plate against Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Liam Hendriks, Ruth knew what he had to do. “The scouting report on Santana is that you have to stay away from giving him fastballs, so I simply changed the wording of the report given to [Twins’ catcher Chris Herrmann] and encouraged him to call for only fastballs against Carlos.”
The results were almost immediate, as Santana blasted a two run homer in the first inning off a fastball he otherwise would never have seen.
The Colosus of Clout changed his tactics to make sure that Kipnis could get in on the fun. After Hendriks pitched a perfect curveball to Kipnis in the bottom half of the third, Ruth altered the spin on the pitch so that it would hang, and Kipnis did his part by smashing the ball into the cheap seats.
According to the Babe he frequently gets the urge to affect events on the baseball diamond, but refrains because his friend and fellow Yankee Waite Hoyt disapproves. But in this case the Babe couldn’t hold back, saying “as a shade, I obviously don’t have the muscles I used to, but I can still do enough to lift the spirits of a deserving child.”
- Indians grant young fan’s wish (newsnet5.com)
- Indians grant young fan’s wish (toledoblade.com)
- Cleveland Indians: Making Wishes Come True (isportsweb.com)