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Suns put on Ruthian show

August 16, 1998|By RON SOMERS / Sports Editor

Longtime baseball fan Scott Stufft stared in amazement at the glass-enclosed artifact.

"How anyone could catch a ball with that mitt is beyond me,'' said Stufft, 42, of Hagerstown.

He was standing in a light drizzle Friday night at Municipal Stadium awaiting the start of the Hagerstown Suns-Charleston Alley Cats game and looking at the touring exhibit from the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore.

The mitt in question was Babe Ruth's first, and he played with it as a youth at St. Mary's Industrial School in his native Baltimore. It's barely bigger than a big man's hand, doesn't have much of a pocket and seems more of a hindrance than a help.

Also on display was a bat Ruth used during the 1927 season when he set the then-single-season record of 60 home runs, a contract for $1 tendered by the Yankees to Ruth to be a player-manager in 1935, a Yankees uniform shirt from 1935, a ball autographed by Ruth and Lou Gehrig and a grainy but fascinating video tape of Ruth's famous called-shot home run in the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs.

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Kevin Williams, special projects director at the Babe Ruth Museum, is quick to point out that Ruth's homer is still the longest ever hit at Wrigley Field - 600 feet.

Williams has accompanied the exhibit on its 24-city tour this year. Hagerstown is the 21st stop.

Response to the display "has blown away my expectations,'' Williams said.

Before Hagerstown, the exhibit was in Yankee Stadium, often called the "House that Ruth Built,'' where Williams estimates 40,000-50,000 people saw it in three nights.

The tour was put together to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ruth's death.

"In fact, it's Sunday ... 8:01 p.m.'' Williams said.

The exhibit continues today and Sunday at Municipal Stadium, starting at 6 p.m.

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