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Robert W. Creamer
September 30, 1991
The Bambino's biographer visited the set of a television movie to see the legend come to life
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September 30, 1991

The Babe Goes Hollywood

The Bambino's biographer visited the set of a television movie to see the legend come to life

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Rose was really impressive. He knew his lines and delivered them easily. When Tinker suggested a slight change in tone or pace, Rose followed the suggestions without difficulty. Afterward, Pete revealed the secret of his acting prowess to the inquiring media. "I've done a lot of commercials," he said. "I do what the director tells me to do."

Throughout his brief stay in Cleveland, Rose was smooth and poised. Maybe it was a calculated plan, a conscious effort to project a new, humble, caring Rose. Whatever the reason, he handled an edgy situation skillfully. He refused to criticize Vincent or baseball and said only admiring things about Bart Giamatti.

"The last thing I want is any problem with the commissioner of baseball," Rose said. "If I'm told I can wear a uniform, I wear it. If they say no uniform, I don't wear it. I made some mistakes and I've paid for them, and all I'm trying to do now is go ahead with my life."

Then Rose was finished and gone, and the next day the film itself was finished, except for the arduous task of editing the thousands of feet of film into a compact, coherent whole. I haven't seen the completed movie yet, and I don't know how good it will be. The critics may savage it, there's no way of knowing. But I'll be surprised if (here are false notes in it. The people doing the film all seemed to understand that Babe Ruth was more than just a big, gluttonous slob who dropped out of a tree with a baseball bat in his hands. And they certainly knew baseball.

During one break in the action, when cameras were being shifted around for a dugout scene, Pace, wearing a baseball glove and cap, went to the mound in Municipal Stadium and began throwing breaking pitches to Bruce Weitz, the former Hill Street Blues actor who plays Ruth's manager in the film and who, as a boy in Connecticut, played second base on a team that went to the Little League World Series. ("And we won," Weitz said.) In short left, Lyttle and Tinker were hitting long fungoes toward the empty seats down the leftfield line.

"What in the world are they doing?" I asked.

Lang grinned. "They're playing home run derby," he said.

I left Cleveland feeling the Babe was in good hands.

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