81st anniversary of Called Shot: The media’s view on Babe Ruth’s famous homer

Next year, Wrigley Field celebrates its 100th anniversary. Naturally, given the history of the team that plays there, the most famous moment in the ballpark’s history belongs to a player on a visiting team.

On Oct. 1, 1932, Babe Ruth hit a homer during the fifth inning of Game 3 of the World Series against the Cubs. There’s no dispute that it was one of the longest drives ever at Wrigley Field.

The question is: Did Ruth call his shot?

There was a media component to the Called Shot. Jack Bales, writing at ChicagoSide, discussed the coverage in his anniversary piece.

In the dozens of press reports scrawled that day by on-site reporters, only one—written by Joe Williams of the New York World-Telegram and titled “Ruth Calls Shot As He Puts Homer No. 2 in Side Pocket”—noted that Ruth pointed to center field to indicate the location of his home run ball. Many newspapers mentioned gestures to the dugout rather than the outfield. A few journalists wrote that the Babe signaled his home run (that is, he “called his shot”), but they made no references in their stories to him pointing to the outfield. For example:

Joe Williams, New York World-Telegram, October 1: “In the fifth, with the Cubs riding him unmercifully from the bench, Ruth pointed to centre [sic] field and punched a screaming liner to a spot where no ball ever had been hit before.” (Interestingly enough, this sentence has rarely been quoted accurately in various accounts of Babe Ruth’s famous home run.)

John Drebinger, New York Times, October 2: “Ruth came up in the fifth and in no mistaken motions the Babe notified the crowd that the nature of his retaliation would be a wallop right out [of] the confines of the park.”

Westbrook Pegler, Chicago Daily Tribune, October 2: “Then, with a warning gesture of his hand to [Cubs player Guy] Bush, he sent him the signal for the customers to see. . . . Many a hitter may make two home runs, or possibly three in world series play in years to come, but not the way Babe Ruth hit these two. Nor will you ever see an artist call his shot before hitting one of the longest drives ever made on the grounds, in a world series game. . . .”

Warren Brown, Chicago Herald and Examiner, October 2: “This time he called his shot, theatrically, and with derisive gestures towards the Cubs’ dugout.”

Note: I’ll be writing more about the famous homer soon. In February, my book, Babe Ruth’s Called Shot: The Myth and Mystery of Baseball’s Greatest Home Run, will be published by Lyons Press.


6 thoughts on “81st anniversary of Called Shot: The media’s view on Babe Ruth’s famous homer

  1. Mr. Sherman, Curt Smith’s Voices of the Game includes a transcription of Tom Manning’s call of the game on NBC Radio. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out.

  2. Wait — I don’t want to take attention away from your upcoming book, but didn’t your former colleague, the late Jerome Holtzman (apologies if I misspelled his name) conclusively demonstrate that there was no called shot? The Trib ran him doing a variation on that theme for years.

      • It never happened, the evidence is overwhelming. I’ve read many articles on the subject. You have a vested interest with your book in keeping the myth alive.

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