There was an air of anticipation and excitement in Mahanoy City and the surrounding patches as the community and baseball fans in particular awaited the arrival of Babe Ruth in the autumn of 1923. The twenty-eight year old Ruth had just completed his fourth season with the New York Yankees in which he batted .393 ( the best of his career ) and hit 45 home runs. The Yankees had won their first world series less than two weeks before. The Bronx Bombers had defeated the New York Giants in a "subway series" in six games. This would be the first of the Yankee's 27 world championships. Babe was originally scheduled to be in town on Tuesday, the 23rd of October, but that date was postponed because of rain. Babe's appearance was rescheduled for Friday, October 26th. The local schools and collieries closed early in anticipation of the great event. The articles below are from the Record American prior to Ruth's arrival and following the game on Friday.
I believe the photo below of the Mahanoy Township High School Stadium ( West End Stadium) was taken in the 1930's based on the cars in the picture. I assume that the layout of the baseball field is the same as it was in 1923. I remember dugouts along the third base line under the stands. In this picture home plate is just northwest of the concession stand. I have inserted the distances to the outfield fences based on the article below which appeared in the Record American Sports Notes on the day of Ruth's appearance.
Baseball fans are familiar with the " Hot Stove League" in which the sport's more avid fans spend the winter months rehashing the previous season's highlights and pondering their favorite team's prospects for the coming season. I assume Mahanoy City's Stove League was that type of "league". On the same night as the Babe's game at the West End, the Stove League was holding a "smoker" at Nork's Hall and the Babe was invited. The Record American doesn't report whether Babe ever made it there or not. He may have had to catch the train for Oil City, his next barnstorming stop. I assume that "Dazelle", the other babe, showed up and was a big hit.
Read Stove League Smoker at Nork's Tomorrow
There have been many stories told throughout the years about the Babe's trip to Mahanoy City. One that was often repeated was about the towering drives that landed on the roof of the Assumption B.V.M. Church. As you can see from the photo, any balls that might have landed there would have been foul balls. Ruth was a left handed batter and no doubt could have pulled some long fouls in that direction, but the article below doesn't mention any long balls hit there.
The Babe was known for some long home runs. Perhaps the longest was hit in a game that took place at Artillery Field on the campus of Wilkes University just 45 minutes up the road from Mahanoy City on October 12, 1926. Here's what the AP wires had to say about that blast.
"The ball cleared the right field fence 400 feet from the plate by more than 40 feet and was still ascending. The ball landed on the far side of the running track of a high school athletic field in Kirby Park. Officials estimated the length at 650 feet."
Per Associated Press report the day after the home run. The following articles appeared in the Record American the day after the Babe's West End Park appearance.
Click on the image to view a video of Babe Ruth's 60th home run in 1927. Ruth's home run record lasted 34 years until it was broken by another Yankee, Roger Maris, in 1961.
Click on the image to see highlights of the 1926 World Series in which the Yankees with Ruth and Gehrig faced the St. Louis Cardinals and Rogers Hornsby.The series went seven games. Click on the program to see who won!