July 30, 2007


Sultan of Swat, reprise: Great-grandson of Ruth a slugger (Brian MacQuarrie, July 30, 2007, Boston Globe)

The brow and broad cheekbones look vaguely familiar as Chris Herrlein steps into the batter's box. But there is no paunch, and Herrlein is hitting right-handed, instead of left, as a peeling number 3 hangs to the back of his jersey.

It is the number that Babe Ruth, his great-grandfather, wore as the most famous player in baseball history. Three generations later, Herrlein does the Bambino proud by rocketing a softball high and deep for a three-run triple.

"There he goes," yelps Steve Wilson, co-manager of the Blues Maniacs, as Herrlein, 38, lugs a rebuilt right knee and two injury-prone shoulders around the bases in short, choppy, dust- raising strides.

Standing on third, catching his breath, Herrlein flashes a wide smile as the Maniacs chop away at the wrong end of a 9-0, first-inning deficit. Although the ready grin is also reminiscent of Ruth, only a few teammates knew of Herrlein's connection to the Bambino before the game last week.

"I want them to know me as me," says Herrlein, a Hewlett-Packard software salesman from Millis.

What they know, Wilson says, is a big-hearted first baseman with a .350 average in this modified fast-pitch league.

"I'm just in total awe," said second baseman Jason Malloy, 26, of Stow, as he waited to bat beside Framingham High School. "If you watch enough history stuff, you can see absolutely that he resembles Babe Ruth, just the way he looks at you."

Interesting the degree to which the popular view of the Babe is irrevocably shaped by newsreels filmed late in his career.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 30, 2007 9:17 AM

Heck, David Wells obviously has based his career on the bizarre misperception of the Babe's physique, as if he was grossly overweight when he was a young pitcher...

Posted by: b at July 30, 2007 11:17 AM
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