August 16, 2002óGround Zero Plus 338

The King Is Dead...No, Not Elvis...The King Of Swat
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, August 16--Around the world, Elvis fans mourn the death of the "King Of Rock 'n Roll" on this date.  He died at age 42.   But his memory lives on--a tribute to the belief that the Spirit Of Rock 'n Roll Vigilance lives forever.

     But this date is also the anniversary of another King, the King of Swat, Hall of Famer Babe Ruth, who died on August 16, 1948 at the age of 53, 29 years prior to Elvis.   Babe died a horrible death--of throat cancer.   Elvis died a horrible death too.  While official reports say he died of a heart attack, the real history of his death is attributed to his being injected by drugs to keep him alive so he could perform and pounds of pills to keep him going.   His life was tormented by insecurities and Terrorisms we may never know.  But his reclusive nature, and troubled life all point to a man who dodged his own shadow.

     Babe Ruth didn't dodge his shadow. He too was tormented, full of Terror.  But he overcame his demons.  While Elvis taught the children of the world to bump and grind their hips, and extol the virtues of histrionic dancing, The Babe taught them something far more valuable--the ability to achieve far beyond their expectations.
      Babe wasn't an orphan who made good as the urban legend would have us believe.  He was worse.   He was the product of a troubled home, where his parents neglected him because they were too busy trying to make ends meet.  
      Babe was born on February 6, 1895, George Herman Ruth, Jr.   He was the first of eight children; six died in infancy.
      He lived on the dirty, crowded streets of the Baltimore riverfront, struggling to survive without attention from his parents who were busy working, trying to survive themselves.   On June 13, 1902, they took seven-year-old George Jr. to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys and signed over his custody to the Xaverian Brothers, a Catholic Order of Jesuit Missionaries who ran St. Mary's.
      Little George was termed an "incorrigible youth."   His parents never came to visit him.   St. Mary's was part orphanage, and mostly a reformatory, housing 800 children and secured by prison-like walls.   Were it not for a man named Brother Mathias, the main disciplinarian at St. Mary's, the future King of Swat may have lived a life of obscurity and crime, as most who exited the orphanage/reformatory did.
      Brother Mathias is credited with helping Babe Ruth learn to love baseball, and to offer him the love and care that his parents denied him.  He also taught him to love children, and to be responsible for the legendary home runs that Babe Ruth swatted to help inspire sick children to get well.
      On February 27, 1914, at age 19, George Ruth, Jr. was signed as a professional baseball player by Jack Dunn of the Baltimore Orioles.  His teammates said of the teenager, "Well, here's Jack's newest babe," and the nickname, "Babe Ruth" stuck.

      In December, 1919, Babe was sold to the New York Yankees.  Prior to the King of Swat's arrival, the Yankees had never won a pennant.   Babe changed that.   From 1920-1933 the Yankees became the dominant force in baseball winning seven pennants and four World Championships.   Babe retired on June 2, 1935. He left a distinguished record of 714 homes runs,  2214 RBI's and the only other man to hit three home runs in World Series Game.
         After being diagnosed with throat cancer in 1946 and spending nearly a year in unsuccessful treatment to arrest it, Babe was released on February 15, 1947.   April 27 was declared "Babe Ruth Day" in every ballpark in the United States and Japan, a global tribute to the legend about to die.
      George Herman Ruth, Jr. died at 8:01p.m. on August 16, 1948--29 years prior to Elvis' death.  Babe's body lay in state at the main entrance to Yankee Stadium for two days.   Hundreds of thousands of people stood in line for hours to pay their respects, many of them children who knew the "King Of Swat" was their hero.  A half-smoked cigar butt of his is included in his sacristy.

     Throughout his career, the Babe never refused a request to work with children.  He often went to orphanages and hospitals to visit and inspire the children, to remind them there was a future.  Where ever he went, he was swarmed by youth seeking his autograph, which he gladly gave.
      Unlike Elvis, George Herman Ruth, Jr. sought to give back to the children that which he was deprived as a child.   He became the Parent of Vigilance for countless youngsters who, like him, suffered a sense of abandonment, a sense of lack of self worth.  He was a national hero for the underdogs of life. 

      America loves heroes.   We seek them.   We want to believe that those idols or icons who rise above the "salt" represent our ability to do the same, or, if we have given up on our own ability to "achieve" we seek vicariously lives in the shoes of our heroes, imagining ourselves like them, sometimes dressing like them, collecting their memorabilia, learning their styles, their favorite foods, their foibles and making their beings part of our our being.
      Sometimes such transfigurations transfuse from the dark side.   Some  pick the Hitlers to admire, or follow Satan's historic course of evil, or, twist their thinking to become serial killers or copy cats following the footsteps of prior Terrorists..
      Today, our heroes aren't known for their compassion or concern for children, but for their salaries, or their tennis shoes, or their ability to make love to 20,000 women, or the trouble they get into and out of because of their fame.    We don't see them pointing to the grandstands to hit a home run for a sick child in a hospital, or hear about them sneaking away from the press to quietly visit an orphanage and inspire the kids that someone cares about them when they think no one else does.
      We've glamorized heroism so that it glitters and sparkles, and is measured by rating points, commercial endorsements.   
      Babe Ruth's death 54 years ago didn't make the front page of most newspapers yesterday.   Many didn't even list in on their sports page.  
      But in a world of Terrorism, it would seem we all owe Babe Ruth a special tribute on this day--one that far exceeds what we drumbeat for Elvis. 
      Babe was a Sentinel of Lost Children Vigilance.   He didn't try to wash their minds with music, and drive their groins to gyrate into a new wave of sexual and anti-parental freedoms, but rather swung his bat to show the world that anything is possible--even for an "incorrigible child."  Below, I've listed a series of quotes from Babe's official website (link to the site), which represent his outlook on life, baseball, and the children.
      Today, we have thousands of kids who feel "lost" in a world that drives its parents to neglect them emotionally.   The richest child living in the most grand home, can feel the same Terrorism of not being loved by his or her parents as Babe Ruth did on Baltimore's riverfront.    Times may change, but a child's need for love doesn't.  Neither does the duty of a parent to be Vigilant about a child's Terrorism--whether it be the bogeyman in the closet, or that the child doesn't feel smart enough, good looking enough, liked enough, popular enough, worthy enough.
      Terrorism feeds on Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  In a child, these demons are seeded in its early years by the lack of Vigilance on the part of parents and loved ones.  Unfortunately, many parents and guardians believe a child should "learn to deal with their Terrors" as part of their maturity--to "fend for themselves."  Others are just too damn busy to care.  The Terrors of Childhood--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--left unchecked,  take root; they burrow deep into a child's marrow.  They choke off a child's spirit of growth, stunt the youth's ability to stand up for itself in the face of life whose shadow often dampens the spirit of self achievement and offers reinforcement that the worthlessness of one's thoughts carry some validity..

Babe Ruth & Kids

     But a Parent of Vigilance, or a Loved One of Vigilance, such as Brother Mathias at St. Mary's, can pull the weeds of Terrorism from a child.  He or she can  fertilize the soil of a child's self worth with Courage, Conviction and teach the child to take Right Actions rather to become victim of the Complacent attitude that "this is my lot.".
      Babe Ruth took his Seeds of Vigilance and transformed his life through the caring of another..   He became a Symbol of Vigilance over Terrorism to countless thousands around the world, proof one can't worry about striking out in life if one sees a home run in the future.  
      Guardians of children who tell them Elvis is the "King," might want to reconsider whom they celebrate on August 16.    Maybe they should sit down with their seedlings and tell them the story of Babe Ruth--share with them how he overcame the Terrorisms of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   How he learned to use Courage, Conviction and Right Actions to make decisions not for himself, but for the children, and their children's children's children.   And how striking out in life is only a step to becoming a home run hitter.

The Babe, pointing to the grandstands, Wrigley Field, 1932 World Series

          And, perhaps when such a guardian, parent or loved one is in a quandary about what to do in life, maybe he or she can don Babe Ruth's Number 3 Yankee shirt, and squint up into the grandstands, and point you finger toward a home run deep in the grandstands, and swing the bat not for himself or herself, but for all the children, and their children's children's children.   
      As Babe would say, "You can never strike out doing the right thing."



"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way"

"The only real game, I think, in the world is baseball."

"Itís hard to beat a person who never gives up."

"I thank heaven we have had baseball in this world... the kids... our national pastime."

"I've never heard a crowd boo a homer, but I've heard plenty of boos after a strikeout."

"Just one (superstition). Whenever I hit a home run, I make certain I touch all four bases."

"I won't be happy until we have every boy in America between the ages of six and sixteen wearing a glove and swinging a bat."

"Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world."

"All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it. I get back to the dugout and they ask me what it was I hit and I tell them I don't know except it looked good."

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."

"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."

"To my sick little pal. I will try to knock you another homer, maybe two today."

"If I'd tried for them dinky singles I could've batted around six hundred."

"How to hit home runs: I swing as hard as I can, and I try to swing right through the ball...The harder you grip the bat, the more you can swing it through the ball, and the farther the ball will go. I swing big, with everything I've got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can."

"As soon as I got out there I felt a strange relationship with the pitcher's mound. It was as if I'd been born out there. Pitching just felt like the most natural thing in the world. Striking out batters was easy."

"Watch my dust."

"Baseball changes through the years. It gets milder."

"All ballplayers should quit when it starts to feel as if all the baselines run uphill."

"Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. You know how bad my Voice sounds. Well, it feels just as bad. You know this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you've been a boy, and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in our national pastime."

"I know, but I had a better year than Hoover."
...Reported reply when a reporter objected that the salary Ruth was demanding ($80,000) was more than that of President Herbert Hoover's ($75,000).


Go To Aug 15--The Terror Of Organ Transplants    

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