Bill Corum on October 4: "Words fail me. When he stood up there at bat before 50,000 persons, calling the balls and strikes, with gestures, for the benefit of the Cubs in the dugout and then, with two strikes on him, pointed out where he was going to hit the next one, and hit it there, I gave up. The fellow's not human."
Tom Meany on October 4: "Babe's interviewer then interrupted to point out the hole in which Babe put himself Saturday when he pointed out the spot in which he intended hitting his homer."
What, I wondered, actually did happen that day? After all, it wasn't so long ago. Why so much doubt and debate about an incident that supposedly took place in full view of a huge and avid crowd? Now, after a patient reading of many other original accounts of the game, I think I can offer an answer to that question. Ruth did call his shot, and it is only because we take the thing so seriously today that we find it hard to believe.
The Yanks had won the first two games of the Series in New York with Ruth contributing practically nothing. He had been in baseball 19 years, was on his way out and the Cub fans weren't backward about telling him so. But Ruth was always ready to do battle, and all during the third game he strutted, wisecracked and hurled insults. The fans jumped on him in the bottom of the fourth inning when he tried to make an impossible shoestring catch, kicked the ball back toward the infield, chased after it, fell on it and did everything but dig a hole and bury it. The runner stopped at second.
At bat in the top of the fifth, Ruth spent a good deal of time stepping out of the box and shouting gibes at the Cub bench. It is impossible to say what the count was, since the reports vary, but it is certain that Root had blown two strikes past him. After each of them the Babe indicated the situation to all and sundry by waggling his fingers in the air. This was baseball's supreme player in the twilight of an incredible career but still the dominating personality on the American sports scene. Now, in one electric moment, all of the old bravado and vestiges of the once-great skills suddenly rose up again. He pointed, definitely and deliberately, toward the distant stands. It was a hurried gesture missed by many in the big park, but it was Ruth's quintessential moment of triumph. He had never done such a thing before, and (if he had stopped to think about it at all) he knew he could never do it again, but just this once he had put down all his chips. Then Charlie Root tried to whip over a third strike, Ruth swung and the ball soared into the bleachers. It hasn't stopped yet, and I think it never will.