Famous Family Ties

Babe Ruth

Brian learned he has family ties to the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth.

Last weekend marked the beginning of the busiest June I can remember having.

We updated our monthly calendar we have on our fridge, and quickly saw that we have activities packed in every Saturday and Sunday until after the 4th of July.  Weddings, family reunions, birthday parties, graduation parties, etc. Not to mention the stuff we usually have going on.  This should be interesting.  Just yesterday we had a wedding for a family friend, which was a blast!  I love weddings because it’s the only time my “dancing” is considered normal.  And in a short while we’re off to my brother-in-law’s house for a barbecue to celebrate his birthday.

One of the graduation parties I mentioned that’s coming up happens to involve my Blake side of the family, with my grandparents coming into town for it.  My grandfather’s brother and several aunts and uncles will also be there, and I was just informed they are all excited to see hear about my family research at the party.  So now I have a deadline to try to update the Blake tree as much as I can, and build up the story I’m working on so that I have something organized to show them.  Pressure!

My focus is now on those two things, so at least I can stay on track for a few weeks.  I started reaching out to some of the people on Ancestry.com that have Blake’s in their trees, and lo and behold, one of them happened to be a distant cousin!  She descends from Patrick Blake’s second oldest child, James Blake.  We traded information, and also the living members of our trees.  It was so neat to learn that there are other Blakes out there that we didn’t know about.  I hope to do this for each of Patrick’s children before the graduation party, so I can have a complete tree of Patrick Blake and all his descendants.  I may not be able to cover them all, but the closer I can get, the better.  I know my grandfather will love seeing the expanded tree.  It’s mind-blowing to see how large of a family came from just two people.  The other benefit of doing this is that I firmly believe someone out there has pictures, family stories, letters, etc. from the Blakes in Detroit.  What a feeling it would be if I could find that person!

On my Lindsay side, I’ve been corresponding with my Great Uncle Bill for the last several months.  He’s working on transcribing all of his father’s journals from a two- to three-year period when he was overseas in the military.  I can’t wait until he finishes so I can read it and see what life was like for him.  In one of Uncle Bill’s emails, he recalled a story of when his mother came to visit him and his wife back around 1975.  While she stayed with them, she went to go visit one of her husband Walter’s old friends from his time working at WMAQ, a Chicago radio station.  His name was Hal Totten, and he and Walter became very good friends over the years.  His health was in decline, and so my great-grandmother wanted to visit with him one last time.  Uncle Bill mentioned that Hal used to be a sportscaster for the Chicago Cubs, and was pretty well known.

I looked him up on the internet that night, and what I found amazed me.  1924 was the first year the Chicago Cubs began broadcasting their games on the radio, and he was one of those first sportscasters.  He continued calling play-by-play until 1935, when he moved to another station.  In 1933, he even interviewed Babe Ruth!  Just a year before, in 1932, the Cubs played against Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees in the World Series.  For anyone who is familiar with the Cubs, it will not come as a shock that they didn’t win that series.  But in this series was the infamous scene where Babe Ruth reportedly called his one homerun by pointing with his bat to the outfield.  And then he did just that!  But the interview refutes that story.  Babe Ruth was quoted as saying “Hell, no, I didn`t point. Only a damned fool would do a thing like that. . . . I never really knew anybody who could tell you ahead of time where he was going to hit a baseball. When I get to be that kind of fool, they`ll put me in a booby hatch.”

This was backed up by the opposing pitcher from that at-bat, Charlie Root.  Charlie told Francis Powers of the Chicago Daily News that “if he had made a move like that-well, anyone who knows me knows the Babe would have wound up on his posterior. He would have got my hard, hard pitch. I mean hard and I mean inside.”  Charlie firmly rejected the idea that The Babe pointed at the outfield for the rest of his life.  I looked more into this on Wikipedia, newspaper articles, and other internet sites, and found that Babe Ruth did appear to point his bat at something.  This can be seen on video.  The question is, what was he pointing at?

Some sources say he was pointing at the outfield, others at the pitcher, and many other theories.  It will remain a debated topic, but I guess I tend to lean towards believing the pitcher.  Even in today’s game, if a player was to showboat in front of a pitcher, he can probably expect to see a pitch being thrown somewhere in the vicinity of his head.  Fun stuff to ponder though.  And it’s neat to hear that a friend of my grandfather was somewhat involved in the legend!  I can imagine them hanging out on a porch one afternoon talking about it.  You can find this story at the following link:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1992-02-25/sports/9201180336_1_babe-ruth-press-box-cubs

That’s all for me today.  Have a great week everyone!


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Brian Parotto of Hampshire, Ill.


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