Thursday, March 4, 2010

Did Babe Ruth eat breakfast in Lowell?

This is also an outcome of the article that ran in The Sun:

I was asked by someone who had seen the article if I knew if The Babe had ever stopped in Lowell on his way to a hunting trip in Maine.  It seemed entirely likely from what I could figure, being a reasonable route to take and Ruth being a hunter, but I wasn't sure.  I'm not a sports-minded person in the slightest, so I wasn't sure how much I could help.  I did find out that a mentor of Ruth's from back in Baltimore, Brother Matthias, went on to teach at Keith Academy here in Lowell, but when Matthias died in the late '40s, Ruth himself was too ill to make the trip up.  So, I did all I could do: I got the email address for Chaz Scoggins at The Sun for this person (he had suggested contacting him, but it's not as if I have any special way to do that :-P), and passed that info on.

A month later, I got the following reply, forwarded along to me and credited as c/o Mr. Scoggins:
On November 25, 1933, a Sunday morning, a large and powerful automobile pulled up in front of the Waldorf Restaurant at 245 Central street in downtown Lowell.  Many citizens were in church, and the street was nearly deserted.  There were only a handfull of diners inside the restaurant, and at first they paid scant attention to the big, moon-faced man who climbed out of the car and approached the entrance.  A day later, The Lowell Sun recounted what happened next.
"Ambling up to the door, he grinned a Ruthian smile at the first breakfasting patron who stared ... (Babe) Ruth was recognized immediately.  Baseball's greatest figure was surrounded in no time by customers, and when word spread to the street, he was the central figure in a chattering ring as napkins, envelopes, and even felt hats were extended him for autographs.  
"The personality that was Ruth's was exemplified at best there.  He wasn't annoyed.  He smiled from ear to ear, talking back and signing papers when he could. 'Now give me a chance, boys,' he said finally, 'and I'll tell you what I'll do.  I'll set up doughnuts and coffee all around.  Just give me your checks, but don't run up my feed bill.'  The countermen were busier than opposing pitchers with the Sultan at  the plate.  And the Babe made good his bargain. He laid a couple of bills in front of the cashier with the comment, 'Clean up those chow checks, mister, and thanks for everything.'
"After his breakfast snack Ruth walked away with a last wave of a mighty arm to Lowellites who today idolize him more than ever.  Just a regular guy,' remarked one. That's Ruth."
To people struggling in the grip of the Great Depression, Ruth's generosity was particularly appreciated.  The aging but still charismatic New York Yankees star climbed back into his car and drove off toward Maine, where he had planned a hunting trip.

So, what's at 245 Central Street today?  Cappy's Copper Kettle.  I wonder if they're aware of this connection!

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