From a Ruth descendant - Thoughts on the Babe's "presence" at the New Yankee Stadium and "Should there be a statue?"
As one of the great grandsons of Babe Ruth, the day I learned that "The House That Ruth Built" would be replaced with a new stadium, I certainly felt a sense of loss - not only of family heritage, but also a loss for the fans who won't get the opportunity to see where he accomplished his legendary feats. Last year, my grandmother, Julia Ruth Stevens, was repeatedly asked how she felt about the House that Ruth built being replaced and she responded, "I guess all good things must come to an end. I hate to see 'Daddy's House' go, but perhaps it's time to move on."
The Yankees invited The Ruth-Stevens family to a couple of games during the Yankees last season in 2008. Julia was given the ultimate privilege of throwing out the final ceremonial first pitch in old Yankee Stadium. That day, I was extremely proud of the Yankees, of my heritage, and of my grandmother (I might add it was a great throw for a 92 year old) and I'm very grateful to the Yankee organization for the honor bestowed upon the family. However, as a descendant of the Babe, I am concerned about his ongoing legacy within the new Stadium and the Yankee organization as a whole, which has emphasized that the new stadium will not be recognized as "The House That Ruth Built". The Yankees, while acknowledging the past, are moving in a new direction with a significant focus on the future of the Yankees.
Of course as a major league franchise and a business, it's important that the Yankees always look ahead to new opportunities, new championships and new heroes. And they'll be doing just that, in their brand new stadium. I haven't had the opportunity to visit it yet, so my comments are not first hand. But, based on feedback from friends, it sounds like Babe is given his due in Babe Ruth Plaza (outside the park on the first base side). Unfortunately, I have also heard that Monument Park is completely hidden from view behind an eight foot wall. In my opinion, Monument Park is hallowed Yankee ground and should be readily visible, to not only recognize the legends that made the Yankees what they are today, but also to arouse the curiousity of the younger generations and encourage them to learn about the Yankee players who set the benchmark for baseball greatness.
A statue would be most fitting. After all, Babe is not only a huge part of the Yankees' legacy, but of baseball's legacy as a whole. He has been singlehandedly credited with having saved baseball after the severe disappointment and sense of betrayal that came with the "Black Sox Scandal" of 1919. His ability to hit home runs like no other, before or since, forever changed how the game is played. As a fan of baseball and its history (and not just a Ruth relative), I think it's important for today's fans to know just how important the Babe was to baseball and how fortunate the Yankees were to have him as a founding member of their franchise. The Giants have a statue of Willie Mays, the Cardinals have statues of Roger Hornsby and Stan "The Man" Musial, and the Braves have "Hammerin' Hank". Can it seriously be said that the Babe is any less important? A statue of the Babe out in front of the New Yankee Stadium would be a perfect "passing of the torch" from the old "House That Ruth Built" to the new "House That George (Steinbrenner) Built". The Yankees should do all they can to promote their heritage and legendary players. Hopefully, they will be open to new opportunities to do so. And what better way, than with a statue of the Babe, front and center of the new stadium. It's the right thing to do.
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We're about Mets history and tradition. We'd like to see a Seaver statue at Citi Field. We'd like the black uniforms to go away. We'd like the team to always treat the fans with respect.
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