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Spitting Image of the Babe
Dave Kuehls
August 26, 1996
When Willis (Buster) Gardner dons pinstripes, he becomes the Sultan of Swat
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August 26, 1996

Spitting Image Of The Babe

When Willis (Buster) Gardner dons pinstripes, he becomes the Sultan of Swat

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The sports-card show was the fourth appearance last fall for Gardner. He makes about $500 a pop, plus expenses. Not bad for a guy who last faced a pitcher at age 11. In fact, Gardner didn't know much about Ruth until fingers started pointing his way about five years ago. "Then I started doing some studying up," he says. He says he didn't even look like Ruth until he was in his 50s, when his face filled out—along with the rest of his body.

At most of Gardner's appearances, a long-sleeved white undershirt hides a tattoo of a skunk on his right forearm. But the wool uniform gets awfully hot in the summer, and Gardner rolls the sleeves up. "Kids tell me Babe Ruth didn't have a tattoo." he says. "I say, 'Look, son, everybody is entitled to one mistake in life. That was mine.' "

Funny. He talks like the Babe, too.

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