As Trent McCann was growing up, his grandfather would tell him many stories about his own youth. Some of these stories involved famous sports celebrities. Since his grandfather recently passed away, Trent wanted to share with everyone the unplanned afternoon his grandfather spent with Babe Ruth, so that the little piece of history his grandfather shared with him would not be forgotten.
Babe Ruth was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees on January 6, 1920. My Grandfather, William Anthony McCann, was born October 15, 1921. One day, around age 13 my grandfather was caddying for one of his regulars when he recognized one of the other golfers in the group. It was the Babe. He had recently retired from his prolific career on the diamond and was becoming a regular on the links of the Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey.
The Babe was very friendly with a man named Jimmy Donahue, who was most likely the man who nvited Babe to the club. Donahue had a big restaurant on Route 23 in New Jersey, where many of the most influential people of the time hung out including athletes, politicians, and others. Babe would park around back as to make a quiet entrance and hang out with Jimmy and have hot dogs and hamburgers and drink beer. According to my Grandpa, Babe told him not to tell anyone. I have a feeling that it’s okay to let the cat out of the bag on that one now.
“Prior to this day at the Upper Montclair Country Club”, my Grandpa said, “I had only ever seen the Babe at Yankee Stadium when he was playing ball for the Yankees. The day I was caddying in the foursome with Babe around early afternoon, the foursome had already played 9 of Upper Montclair’s 27 holes. The “West 9” holes were taken down when the New Jersey Parkway was built.”
He went on to say, “The Babe could hit the golf ball a mile, but he didn’t know where it was going. Every 9 holes he would stop to take a break at the club house.” On this day, he said that the Babe said “Fellas (to the caddies), don’t go down to the caddy shed or anyplace else. Go behind the pro shop (which we weren’t supposed to do) – you’re with me today and you can go anyplace you want to go for lunch. So we decided to eat on a bench behind the pro shop and the Babe sent out for some food and sodas or beer for anyone old enough. The Babe would go into the club house and have a few drinks. After that we went out and played another 18 holes.”
My Grandpa finished his story by saying, “The Babe was just a real regular guy.”
This story is written in remembrance of my grandfather, Bill McCann (1921 – 2014)
by Trent McCann
.Note: To see images of the Babe playing golf in the 1930’s, visit Babe Ruth’s daughter’s websitehttp://www.baberuthcentral.com/multimedia-babe-ruth/photos/julia-ruth-stevens-personal-albums/photo-collection-3-julias-personal-album-babe-the-golfer/