The Great Bambino's Great-Grandson adds to Baseball Collection

The great grandson of the Great Bambino comes bearing gifts. Well, sort of.

It’s been nearly 68 years since the death of Babe Ruth, but his legacy lives on. A man so entrenched in his own legend, it’s easy to forget sometimes that he really existed. A man whose significance and reputation is so great, it lies with the likes of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Unlike them, though, his legacy remains authentic.

His brilliant career, life and stories are proudly kept alive by Brent Stevens, the great grandson of the Great Bambino. He paid a visit to the St. Petersburg Museum of History on Friday, July 29 to add another baseball to Little Cooperstown, the largest collection of signed baseballs in the world (so says the Guinness Book of World Records).

Stevens' contribution to the museum? A baseball signed by the Babe's remaining relatives, who, Stevens said, comprise three generations of Ruth’s kin, including his dad, grandmother, sister and himself.

Here's the rub: While the Babe's great grandson made it to town, the ball didn't quite make it — yet. Stevens assured the crowd once the ball makes its way through his family, it will land at the museum.

For years, Babe Ruth made his home in St. Petersburg for Spring Training. Stevens shared stories about how his great grandfather loved the Vinoy and Jungle Hotels, and his fondness for St. Pete's vibe.

“For the Ruth family, St. Petersburg was very special,” Stevens said. “My grandmother [Dorothy Ruth, daughter of the Babe] mentioned that my family came down early in the year before Spring Training so Babe could get some good golf and fishing in.”

Many of Steven’s stories come from Dorothy Ruth, who recently turned 100. Museum visitors can see her autograph, scribbled on a baseball and displayed behind glass, right next to her father’s. Stevens autographed a baseball during the presentation that the museum will add to its world-record collection — the 4,874th ball.

“It’s a lot of pride. Obviously I know it’s because of my relation when people ask me to sign a ball, but it just demonstrates how critical of a figure he is in baseball. He really is the best,” Stevens said.

And pride motivates Stevens to share his legacy.

“I think as the great-grandson, it’s an honor to be able to perpetuate his legacy in whatever ways I can and share stories that are lesser known,” he said.

Most know Ruth’s legacy by what he did on the field — as well as his drinking and romancing — but Stevens shares a personal and compassionate side to the Sultan of Swat.

“I’ve always known he was a great amazing baseball player,” Stevens said, “But what really stands out is what I’ve learned about him on a personal level. He really loved people, particularly children. The stories of all the visits to orphanages and hospitals were definitely true. He just loved being around people and making people happy. Not a lot of people know that aspect of him.”

Many also don't realize the Babe had a big hand in bringing baseball to St. Petersburg in the first place. According to Stevens, Ruth once hit a home run 587 feet at Plant Field in Tampa. Legend has it, St. Petersburg mayor Al Lang saw the home run and it inspired him to bring Spring Training to the city so he could see the Babe play again. Babe Ruth also hit the longest home run ever recorded off a major league pitcher in St. Petersburg, soaring 600 feet.

Three generations removed, and you’d still think you’re looking at the Bambino himself. Missing only a cigar in his mouth and a bat in his hand, Stevens bears a striking resemblance to a man he’s never even met.

But don’t bank on seeing Steven with a bat in his hand any time soon. He’s never played the game. Why?

“I’ve avoided it. I just didn’t want the pressure,” he said.

Stevens threw the first pitch at the Rays/Yankees game Friday night at Tropicana field. Stevens told CL he'd probably cheer for the Rays — despite his connection to the greatest Yankee ever — as Stevens claims slight allegiance to the Red Sox.

About The Author

Colin O'Hara

Colin O'Hara, Intrepid Sports Reporter, writes about sports for Creative Loafing and is the only CL writer ever  banned from a certain Croatian stadium, which makes him sort of a bad-ass. Follow him as he Tweets smart-ass sports shit...
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