Babe Ruth played in York

Pictured above: Collector and York County resident Jason Showvaker found and purchased this Babe Ruth autograph scrawled on Penn Hotel stationary for $4,000 in 2005. Ruth and the 1928 Yankees stayed at the hotel, which was located in downtown York where the York County Judicial Center now stands.

AN EYEWITNESS

Longtime York editor Jim Hubley attended the exhibition game featuring the New York Yankees and York White Roses on May 27, 1928. Hubley was 13 years old at the time. He wrote about his memories of the game several times. Here are some excerpts from his columns about that day.

From the York Daily Record, Feb. 11, 1995:

About that Sunday afternoon of May 27, 1928, I remember it well. Sunday baseball was not allowed in Philadelphia in that era of Blue Law restrictions. The Yankees of 1927, then as well as now, were recognized as the best team ever in baseball. Riding high in that early part of 1928, the Yankees were in Philadelphia for an important six-game series. However, they could not play on Sunday.

So the York club of the New York-Pennsylvania League managed to snare the Yankees for an exhibition game in York at old Eagles Park.

Imagine any major league team doing that today. York fans were fearful not all the Yankees would show. But they did with only one regular missing the contest.

The New York team, quartered in Philadelphia, bussed here. They arrived around noon and set up headquarters at the Penn Hotel. The squad dressed there, returned after the game, changed clothes, had a big meal featuring illegal York County beer and then returned to the Quaker city.

When the team arrived at Eagle Park, Ruth was first off the bus. He greeted his fans, including a host of kids such as myself, and promised to talk to us after the game.

Ruth hit a home run as the Yankees crushed the White Roses, 9-2.

Rain threatened but held off until shortly after the contest ended but not before Ruth kept his word and held court along the first base side. …

Later I saw Ruth and the Yankees play several times against the old Philadelphia Athletics at Shibe Park. It was in Philadelphia I saw him for the last time, just several months before he passed on.

Babe was being wheeled to catch a train while my family and I were en route to Atlantic City. He was only a wasted shadow and it was sad, very sad.

From the York Daily Record, May 18, 2006:

The visitors had promised a full lineup with Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, etc. Among the crowd, a large delegation of local Italian fans were on hand to greet Lazzeri. Oddly, he was the only regular Yankee team member who didn’t appear. The Yankee club never gave a reason for his absence. Incidentally, he was replaced by a rookie who also later made his mark in America’s pastime, Leo Durocher.

Another change was made: Ruth and Gehrig switched positions. The Babe played first base and Gehrig was in the outfield.

Another thing I remember, sitting on the third base side, was when Ruth hit his home run, a towering shot. A shocked fan shouted, “My God, I think the damn ball landed in Emigsville.”

Ruth was on base three other times that day. He singled twice and was walked once and stole a base. At first base, he handled 11 field chances flawlessly. Just before he sat down on the first base bench to talk with us kids, a York County fan handed Ruth a huge York-made cigar.

Thanking the donor, Ruth borrowed a match, lighted the cigar and began puffing while lecturing us kids about not smoking, drinking or disobeying our parents.

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