For the record: I really loved reading this sports story

Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the 1927 season on Sept. 30. What then happened to the bat he used for the record-breaking smash is anyone’s guess.

This is a sports story.

That might be a bit shocking to those who know me. (I am not a big sports fan. I don’t care about the Super Bowl or March Madness. I know, that is unAmerican. Please don’t hate me.)

More transparency: I did not write this sports story. But I love it and have to share it. I pull it from a book on my shelf titled “The Best News Stories of 1923.”

Old newspaper writing styles fascinate me as much if not more than the events. Including the report in the New York World on Oct. 12, 1923, by Heywood Broun, a well-known sports writer.

Lonny Cain

He covered Game Two of the 1923 World Series matchup between the New York Yankees and the New York Giants. His opening made it clear who he would highlight.

“The Ruth is mighty and shall prevail,” wrote Broun. “He did yesterday. Babe made two home runs and the Yankees won from the Giants at the Polo Grounds by a score of 4 to 2. This evens up the World’s Series, with one game for each contender. …

“For the first time since coming to New York, Babe achieved his full brilliance in a World’s Series game. Before this he has varied between pretty good and simply awful, but yesterday he was magnificent.”

Broun studied the coded commands between pitcher, catcher and Giants Manager John McGraw calling pitches from the bench.

He quoted McGraw: “Why shouldn’t we pitch to Ruth? I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, we pitch to better hitters than Ruth in the National League.”

Broun had fun with that: “Ere the sun had set on McGraw’s rash and presumptuous words, the Babe had flashed across the sky fiery portents which should have been sufficient to strike terror and conviction into the hearts of all infidels.”

See why this was a fun read? Sports writers have a tool chest full of adjectives, adverbs and metaphors.

“In the fourth inning Ruth drove the ball completely out of the premises. McQuillan was pitching at the time, and the count was two balls and one strike. The strike was a fast ball shoulder high, at which Ruth had lunged with almost comic ferocity and ineptitude. …

“Of course the nature of the code is secret, but this time McGraw scratched his nose, to indicate: ‘Try another of those shoulder high fast ones on the Big Bam and let’s see if we can’t make him break his back again.’

“But Babe didn’t break his back, for he had something solid to check his terrific swing. The ball started climbing from the moment it left the plate. It was a pop fly with a brand new gland and, though it flew high, it also flew far.

“When last seen the ball was crossing the roof of the stand in deep right field at an altitude of 315 feet. We wonder whether new baseballs conversing together in the original package ever remark: ‘Join Ruth and see the world.’”

Want more? There’s plenty. Just search online “Heywood Broun + Babe Ruth” to find this story and others.

But hey, if you’re not interested, that’s OK. Trust me, I’d understand.

Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, also was a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. His PaperWork email is Or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.