Monday, April 21, 2014

From Brewers to Browns to Orioles



1901: When the National League got rid of four teams it opened the door for a second Major League. Ban Johnson, who was the President of the minor Western League, decided to step up his league to the next level. He placed teams in cities that the NL just shunned, and other teams were placed in NL cities to create a rivalry. 

With all this moving around only two cities survived from the Western League, and that was Detroit which was about to have a boom thanks to the Automobile Industry, and Milwaukee which was years away from being a Major League city. 

Almost from the start of the season plans were under way to relocate the Brewers, this resulted in the club finishing dead last with a 48-89 record. The Brewers would move on to St. Louis the following season, and become the Browns. 

As for Milwaukee they would be a successful minor league city for years, before, getting another Major League team in 1953, when the NL's Braves moved from Boston. After the Braves left Milwaukee without a team again in 1966, the Brewers were re-incarnated in 1970

Ironically the Brewers moved from Seattle after just one season as had the original Brewers 68 years earlier.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Legacy of the Browns/Oriole, Bob Young

April 16, 2014
The Baltimore Sun

The St. Louis Browns became the Baltimore Orioles 60 years ago on March 30, 1954.  Billy Hunter threw out the ceremonial pitch on the exact date of the first home game this year (2014).

Billy Hunter's outstanding double-play partner at second base was the late Bob Young, the only native Marylander to arrive in Baltimore with the former Browns.

Bob Young
Young played all or part of eight years in Major League Baseball, primarily as a second baseman. He played most of his career for the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles franchise.
He was first signed by the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1946 season, and appeared in three games for them in 1948 before being traded to the crosstown Browns in June 1949. He was the Browns' regular second baseman from 1951 to 1953, tying for the American League lead in double plays as a 1951 rookie with 118, and leading the league again in 1952 with 127.

He continued as the starting second baseman after the team relocated to Baltimore before the 1954 season, and was in fact the first player signed to a contract that year.

Casey Stengel, of the New York Yankees, paid Young a great compliment when he said: "Only two guys pivot properly on the double play — my fellow and the fellow in Baltimore."

As leadoff man, Young was the first Oriole to bat in the stadium on 33rd Street.

A Triple Play

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/6479266/v32159635/nyytb-solarte-starts-an-aroundthehorn-triple-play/?content_id=&source=MLB&c_id=mlb&tcid=facebook_embedded_player&gid=2014_04_17_bosmlb_chamlb_1




Thursday, April 17, 2014

This Day in Browns history, this day in *St. Louis* History

April 17, 1948: The first televised baseball game in St. Louis

KSD-TV (the longtime NBC affiliate in St. Louis)  broadcast the very first televised baseball game in St. Louis. Labeled “The City Series,” it saw the St. Louis Cardinals take on the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman’s Park. KSD purchased complete broadcasting rights for the price of four seats at the game because that was the amount of space needed to set up their cameras.

KSD-TV (now KSDK-TV) was the only television station in the St. Louis market, until WTVI (channel 54, now KTVI channel 2) signed on in August 1953.  Guess what that station signed on with?  A Browns game broadcast by a mic team that included Buddy Blattner, Dizzy Dean and Milo Hamilton!





Courtesy, Missouri History Museum

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Clothes Beating Clothes

As Jerry Seinfeld once said, it’s hard to justify remaining loyal to a team with players constantly changing sides. ''You're actually rooting for the clothes, when you get right down to it," he said. "You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city.”

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Eddie Gaedel Jersey Returns Home

Not only was the famous '1/8' St. Louis Browns jersey housed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame a hit jersey, it was his jersey. Bill DeWitt Jr. wore it before Eddie Gaedel did.

Bill DeWitt Jr. has owned it ever since.

And within the next month it's coming home, to St. Louis.

DeWitt, the chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals, confirmed this past week that he has requested the return of the jersey from Cooperstown. For years, he has loaned the jersey from Gaedel's famous plate appearance to the Hall of Fame for display there. But with the Cardinals opening their team museum and Hall of Fame in Ballpark Village, DeWitt decided to bring the Gaedel jersey home.

The distinctive Browns jersey has the action on the back instead of an integer. DeWitt's father, Bill DeWitt, had the jersey made for his son with the number of his favorite player Bobby Dillinger, No. 6. But when owner Bill Veeck decided to spark interest in the Browns with a ploy by giving 3-foot-7 Gaedel an at-bat, they needed a jersey. The "6" was removed from the younger DeWitt's jersey and replaced with the now-famous, "1/8."

That day in August 1951, Gaedel walked to the plate with a 17-inch, 23-ounce bat. He was told not to swing it. Ever. Not once. Gaedel took four pitches outside of his micro strike zone and walked.

He was replaced by a pinch-runner.

That was the total of his big-league career.

The jersey was returned to DeWitt, and even then with an eye for history he kept it. The Cardinals' collection set for the Hall of Fame comes from items acquired by the DeWitt family, some even from their private collection, and from a treasure trove of items donated by Stan Musial through the years.

 There is the ball from the first homer Musial hit as a grandfather. There is a ball signed by the 1926 Cardinals after the franchise's first World Series. Babe Ruth also, inexplicably, signed the ball -- on the sweet spot. The Cardinals have a jersey worn by Pete Alexander and one owned by Branch Rickey.

Now they have home for all of these items with the opening of Ballpark Village this month. The Hall of Fame and museum will open with the Cardinals' home season, on opening day April 7.

Gaedel's jersey will be back home for the festivities.

Derrick Goold covers the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for The Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @dgoold or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BirdLandPD

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ballpark Village Opening March 27; Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum Opening April 4

After a number of curveballs over the years, Busch Stadium’s neighboring entertainment complex, Ballpark Village, is set to open its doors with a big reveal of Phase I on March 27.

The first phase of the project includes the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, restaurant Budweiser Brew House, rodeo-themed cowboy bar PBR St. Louis, piano bar Howl at the Moon and Fox Sports Midwest Live!, which features a TV studio. It also houses five live performance stages and an outdoor festival space

Phase I opens a week and a half before the Cardinals home opener on April 7.

Here’s the schedule of special opening events, with more details to roll out in the coming weeks. For more information, visit stlballparkvillage.com.

MARCH 27

5 p.m. Opening ceremony

6 p.m. Private VIP party

9 p.m. Third Eye Blind on the Fox Sports Midwest Live! Stage, free

MARCH 28

11 a.m. Fox Sports Midwest Live!, Budweiser Brew House, entertainment venue Cardinals Nation and restaurant Drunken Fish open

MARCH 29

6 p.m. Cardinals Nation grand opening

7 p.m. Blues hockey watch party at Fox Sports Midwest Live!

8:30 p.m. Budweiser Brew House grand opening

8:30 p.m. Fireworks over Busch Stadium

MARCH 30

11 a.m.-5 p.m. Ballpark Village family fun event

9 p.m. Red Bull hospitality party

MARCH 31

11 a.m. Fox Sports Midwest Live! grand opening

3:10 p.m. Cardinals season opener watch party at Fox Sports Midwest Live!

APRIL 3

6 p.m. Throwback Thursday debut at Fox Sports Midwest Live!

APRIL 4

5-7 p.m. Inaugural Fridays on Clark event, featuring Dr. Zhivegas

9 p.m. PBR St. Louis grand opening

APRIL 7

10 a.m. Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum grand opening

Noon Ballpark Village Opening Day rally 




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bud Kane, Deceased


Frank (Bud) Kane
We regret to report that our long time Browns Fan Club member and Treasurer, Bud Kane, passed away on March 4, 2014.

Bud joined the Fan Club when it was organized in 1984 and served as its treasurer for 26 years. He’s been a Brownie fan going way back to the 1930s. Bud is also a member of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research). His business career, of over 40 years, was in the trucking business.

Bud was somewhat of a walking encyclopedia of baseball with a heavy focus on the history of the St. Louis Browns. One of Bud’s many memories was attending the first night game in Sportsman’s Park against the Cleveland Indians and Bob Feller.
 

There is no funeral as he donated his body to St. Louis University. More information on Bud's contributions will be in Pop Flies due out next month. 
_____________________________________________________

Dear Brownie Fans, Friends, and Colleagues . . . . From Bill McCurdy

I'm only ten minutes into the news that we've lost Bud Kane, so please forgive me if I cannot find all the words to fill the need I immediately had to reach out to all of you. I have only known Bud since 1996, the first year I came to St. Louis for a Browns banquet with Jerry and Mary Witte, but I can tell you this much. - Bud Kane was one of the big reasons I joined the club and kept coming back for several other banquets over the years. Like many of you, I felt like the lucky new kid on the block who just met the one guy who got me into the sandlot game that was already going on.

http://sabr.org/latest/memoriam-frank-bud-kane
Bud was that kind of guy. He made strangers feel welcome. And he helped those of us newbies who loved the Browns to quickly realize that , if we loved the Browns, we never were strangers at all.
Bud was a little older than me, but we came from the same Irish-American ethnic and religious pot that ladled its way all over the USA from the 19th century forward. We were children of the Great Depression, but summer citizens of the sandlot that once owned American kids in every city and state back then and in the immediate years that followed WWII.
Over the years, Bud and I have kept in regular, if sporadic touch, on everything from our shared sandlot experiences to the Saturday serials, westerns. and B movies of  Charlie Chan that we also treasured at our local neighborhood movie houses in the separate, but connected picture show worlds of St. Louis and Houston.
I already miss you, Bud. Now there's one less of us in this world who remembers both Baby Doll Jacobson and Al "Lash" LaRue.
Rest in Peace, Friend, The Big Field of Dreams Come True - is now all yours - in all you now do.
I wrote a poem many years ago about my own reawakening to the sandlot. I call it "The Pecan Park Eagle" - the name our gang once  gave to our sandlot baseball team in Houston. The poem wrote itself through me after my son Neal, then age 8. had gone to a nearby abandoned school to throw the ball around and play some flies and rollers.

On the way home, I thought I saw an old baseball in the weeds. So I pulled it out, only to find that it was only an old baseball cover. Still, I kept it as we headed down the two block walk home.
"What are you going to do with that old ball cover, Daddy?" Neal asked.
 "I have no idea," I said.
When we got home, I plunked the cover down on the kitchen table and reached for a pen and paper. The poem wrote itself in about ten minutes.
Thank you, Bud, for being open to taking in new old friends, even those of us who only found you late in each other's "Gasoline Alley" comic strip lives.
Love and Peace, Your Pal, Bill McCurdy
 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Missouri History Museum features Browns Jersey in New Ad

          St. Louis is celebrating its 250th anniversary.  The Missouri History Museum opened an exhibit this month, displaying 250 artifacts that are especially representative of St. Louis' 250-year history. (Specifically, the exhibit "tells the history of the city through 50 people, 50 places, 50 moments, 50 images, and 50 objects").   As we reported to you earlier, a game-worn jersey of Browns' outfielder Jim Delsing was selected as one of the "People's Choice Artifacts", testifying to the continued popularity of the St. Louis Browns even two generations later.

          Reading the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week, I see that the History Museum is doubling down on the popularity of the Browns.  The jersey in question is one of five items displayed in a quarter-page advertisement for the exhibit.  60 years later, the Browns still carry a lot of clout!


May they rest in peace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/carhart1010/sets/72157634976047348/

After 15 Years at Roger Dean Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals Could Move

St. Louis Cardinals spring training is an annual rite for hundreds of Redbirds rooters.

But despite a warm relationship between Midwestern snow birds eager for their first taste of baseball after a long winter, and South Florida innkeepers and restaurant operators of Jupiter and Palm Beach who are excited to have some offseason business, camp Cardinal is in danger.

The Redbirds may opt to move out of their spring home since 1998 as soon as next year if the exodus of ball clubs from the area isn't halted.

Once home to the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Florida (now Miami) Marlins, Montreal Expos-turned-Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Yankees, and Cardinals, the southeast coast of Florida has dwindled down to only four remaining clubs: St. Louis, Miami, the Mets, and the Nats. That's apparently the smallest number of clubs the Cardinals and Marlins are willing to tolerate because traveling to the Tampa Bay or Orlando areas to find spring training games is too much of a hassle.

A journey from Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter to the Yankees' spring training home in Tampa is a 186-mile trip on secondary roads that takes a little bit more than three hours to cover in each direction.

A drive from Jupiter to Fort Myers where the Twins and Red Sox train is about 140 miles. That takes about 2 hours, 45 minutes to navigate. It's typical to see several of the Cardinals' veteran players beg off the cross-state trips, which usually start before sunrise an end sometime after 8 p.m., to the disappointment of fans.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the Cardinals and Marlins each have an option on their lease at Roger Dean Stadium that allows them to opt out of their contract to play there if one more neighboring team pulls out.

 Read more at:

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/15-years-roger-dean-stadium-st-louis-cardinals-161100843--mlb.html

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Tragic Story of Frank Biscan, Lifetime Brownie



The information in this story came from The Mt. Olive Herald, November 7th, 1985.

"Frank played minor league baseball in the Ohio cities of Findley, Lima and Youngstown. He was sold by Youngstown to the Toledo Mud Hens where he was 9-7 in 1941. While with Lima in 1940 Frank and Jane Pearson were wed at home plate before a doubleheader. that day Lima won both games. Frank won 26 games that season while losing only 4 and was named to the leaague's all star team. His marriage ended the following year when his wife and infant son died in childbirth.
Frank pitched for the St. Louis Browns in 1942 0-1 and in 1946(1-1) and in 1948(6-7). [He was third in the A.L. in Games Pitched in '48, despite a chronically sore arm].  He died in 1959 of a heart ailment at the age of 39.
Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, MO.
Frank had two daughters by second marriage. They are Sharon Noerper, a professional singer also known as Mackenzie Colt on Hee Haw on which she appeared for two years and now resides in Hollywood, CA. Nancy Nova who lives in Webster Groves, MO."

(Mount Olive is about 65 miles north of St. Louis on I-55.)

~R. Emmett McAuliffe

Monday, February 17, 2014

Debuted with Browns, played only one game, but had unique career

Harold Augustine "Hal" Haid


The 77 players who played for both the St. Louis Browns and St. Louis Cardinals have a special affection among us here at the St. Louis Browns fan club. (Imagine the confusion in the fan's mind when a player is traded from one St. Louis team to another: same ballpark, same StL logo on the hat, just a different shade of uniform color).  One of those is journeyman right-hander Hal Haid.  Like seemingly so many Browns, Haid has an interesting set of unique things about his career.

Let's take a look at just a few of Haid's Highlights:
  • Despite only pitching 300 big league innings, he managed to appear in three different decades, the 10s, 20s and 30s.
  • Haid made his debut in relief with the Browns on September 5, 1919, and only pitched two innings in a 12-3 drubbing by the Tigers.  Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann were both on-base four out of five times in that game. A tough way to start a career! So, saddled with an 18.00 ERA as a result of those two innings, Haid was not used again the rest of the season by manager Jimmy Burke, nor called back in 1920 by owner Phil Ball.  
  • In 1920 he was assigned to the Mobile Bears of the Southern Association, a team that featured a half-dozen ex-major leaguers on the downhill slide.  But he made the most of his return to the minors, pitching a mammoth-by-today's-standards 244 innings for the Bears.
  • By 1922, he was finally out of the Browns' grasp, but back in Missouri, beginning a four-year stint with the St. Joe Saints of the Class A Western League, winning 20 games his last year.
  • Like fellow Phil Ball cast-off Branch Rickey, Haid would later get revenge by shining, (a lot less brightly than Rickey to be sure), with the rival Cardinals. Haid led the National League in saves in 1928, with five (5).  There has never been a total that low since, in either league, to win the league save championship.  Indeed, five saves would be only a week's work for a modern relief pitcher.
  • Was on two pennant-winning Cardinal teams ('28 and '30), and apparently made the World Series roster, but didn't participate in either series.
  • Is the only player ever to make it to the big leagues out of Belmont Abbey College.  This, despite the fact that Belmont Abbey College was founded in 1876, which for all practical purposes was the beginning of professional baseball (founding of the NL).  He went to Belmont Abbey Prep as well.
  • Pitched in the well-thought-of-in-those-days Pacific Coast League from 1932 to 1937, retiring at an-old-for-those-days-for-a-pitcher 39 years-old. (Recall that Haid's contemporary and teammate, Dizzy Dean had a right arm that was considered "long-gone" at age 28, and never pitched beyond age 32 except for his publicity stint as a Browns announcer).
  • Settled in Los Angeles after his playing days were over, and did not live to see his rookie team, the Browns, relocate to Baltimore (date of death August 19, 1952). 
As a teammate, however briefly, with George Sisler, Hank Severeid, and the million-dollar outfield of the St. Louis Browns of the late 10s, as they began their ascent out of mediocrity into the second place "near miss" of 1922; and present during a slightly-pre-Gas-House-Gang championship Cardinals era that allowed him to rub shoulders with 11 Hall of Famers*; and winning one "crown" (1928 saves leader), Haid made the most of his "sideman" role of 300 innings in the big leagues.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Governor's Baseball Dinner celebrates 100 years of baseball in Florida

In 1912, the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates dismissed a sales pitch to train here by Al Lang, the man who would become mayor of St. Petersburg.

But in 1914 — 100 years ago — Lang struck gold when he persuaded manager Branch Rickey to bring the St. Louis Browns here with an offer of free lodging. The first game was played in Coffee Pot Park, writes Nevin D. Sitler in his book Warm Wishes from Sunny St. Pete. The Cubs traveled across the bay by boat from Tampa and won 3-2.
 
So began the local roots of the Florida Grapefruit League and spring training in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. On Thursday evening that rich century of baseball was celebrated at the 2014 Governor's Baseball Dinner held on the outfield at Tropicana Field.
 
The evening's nostalgic look back came with a resolute look forward and a message: The days of the rival Arizona Cactus League poaching teams from the Florida Grapefruit League are over.

"We've stopped the migration of teams to Arizona, and now we're working on bringing back a team from Arizona," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, from the podium at the Trop dinner.
Gov. Rick Scott agreed, saying incentives are now in place to help Florida cities keep the baseball teams they have and perhaps recoup some of the ones they have lost. The state incentive package mimics what Arizona used to poach the Cleveland Indians from Winter Haven in 2009 and the Cincinnati Reds from Sarasota in 2008.

Scott attended the event with his wife, Ann — "a better baseball player than I was," the governor confessed. Scott shared how he grew up cheering for the local Kansas City Athletics and listening to the St. Louis Cardinals via a distant AM radio station. He even spent one of his Florida "working days" as governor selling shortcake and scraping mud from baseball cleats at Joker Marchant Stadium, the Lakeland spring training home of the Detroit Tigers.

The 30 Major League baseball franchises are now perfectly split. Fifteen teams play in Florida, and 15 play in Arizona.

Today's Florida Grapefruit League appears reasonably healthy and is part of the Sunshine State's massive tourism industry. Last year, Florida's spring training games drew 1,638,457 fans who attended 247 games. It was the second consecutive season of more than 1.6 million fans.

In an interview at the baseball dinner, John Webb, president of the Florida Sports Foundation, said the Florida Grapefruit League has five teams with short-term leases remaining on their spring training stadiums. But most of the teams here are signed for the long haul.

Said Webb: "It feels good."

Just don't expect Arizona to let its recruitments to the Cactus League get plucked back too easily.
One Florida group tried to recruit the Chicago Cubs to leave Arizona for a new facility near Naples. Arizona responded with a brand new Cubs Park in the town of Mesa, backed by $99 million in funding.

As if baseball fever was not high enough at the Trop, even Thursday's dinner entertainment — impersonator Frank Caliendo — came ready to reminisce. When younger, the comedian played outfield in an AAU game at Al Lang Stadium. And in 1964 his father played for the minor league Sarasota Sun Sox.
Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@yahoo.com.

Couple Buys 80-year-old Penthouse of Babe Ruth

James Thorner, Times Staff Writer
Tampa Bay Times

 As house maid to Babe Ruth, Nora McIntyre collected the baseball star's cigar butts, tossed his empty booze bottles, pressed his baseball uniforms and averted her eyes to his extramarital dalliances.

But McIntyre's chores extended well beyond the requirements of her $25-per-week salary. She once coaxed the Bambino out of a suicidal depression and helped raise his three grandchildren when Ruth cast them out of his life.

The ultimate self-centered celebrity of his day, Ruth never repaid McIntyre for her dedication. A gold watch fob in the shape of a baseball and a couple of autographed photos was all the former maid, who died 15 years ago, could show for her years working for America's most famous athlete.

Click to Enlarge
That's about to change.

McIntyre's daughter and son-in-law, Dorothy and Ken Patterson, are buying a piece of Ruth, namely his former penthouse at St. Petersburg's Flori-de-Leon apartments.

The 1,420-square-foot apartment at 130 Fourth Ave. N hit the market in 2007 with an ad in the Wall Street Journal. Ruth leased the place between 1927 and 1934 during spring training with the New York Yankees. As the team's star athlete he enjoyed bay views from the apartment's Spanish-style rooftop terrace and relaxed evenings beside a fireplace bracketed by carved wood pillars.
Over almost two years, the housing slump pushed the asking price down from $339,000 to $179,900. The Pattersons followed the proceedings from their home in Northville, Mich. They were curious about Ruth's Florida sojourns, some spent with McIntyre.

"When it was first listed I said, 'Well, that's out of my league,' " Ken Patterson said. "But when it dropped below $200,000 I said, 'Now we're talking.' "

When McIntyre was alive, her mantelpiece included a photo of her standing beside Ruth at a house in St. Petersburg. McIntyre wore a lace-trimmed housekeeper outfit. Ruth was decked out in a jaunty open collar and two-toned shoes.

It wasn't the Flori-de-Leon in the photo — the Pattersons have never found that particular house. But the penthouse, graced with the same bathroom tile and hardwood floors Ruth once trod, would be a suitable stand-in.

"Here's a piece of real estate that means so much that's now being taken care of by someone connected to Babe Ruth," said Realtor Jan Kokernot of Engel & Voelkers. "Her spirit must be smiling up in heaven to think this is happening."

Aside from his baseball heroics, including his then-record-setting 714 home runs, Ruth was renowned as a boozer, glutton and philanderer. McIntyre's up-close-and-personal recollections shared with family members after Ruth's death in 1948, confirmed the image.

The house maid occasionally stumbled upon Ruth with his latest romantic conquest. He'd roguishly advise McIntyre to keep the news from his second wife, Claire.

"She once came upon Babe in a hotel with a female," Ken Patterson said. "Babe said, 'Nora, if you don't tell Claire I'll teach you how to hit a baseball.' "

One time Ruth swished into the kitchen proudly wearing a new pair of tailored silk pajamas, courting approval from McIntyre and his Finnish cook, Hilda. To McIntyre it made him seem like a big, needy kid.

Another story told of how Ruth, drunk and desperate at being passed over for a baseball coaching job, threatened to jump from the window of his New York apartment. McIntyre helped talk him down.

A New York newspaper article from Oct. 24, 1937, mentions "Nora The Irish Maid" serving tea to the Sultan of Swat, one of Ruth's many nicknames. The Pattersons can only laugh at the journalistic malpractice. Ruth wasn't known for quaffing that kind of brew.

Perhaps the seediest side of the Ruth legend was the story of his daughter by his mistress Juanita Jennings. Ruth adopted the girl, named Dorothy Helen, but was not a sterling father.

When Dorothy got pregnant by a New Yorker named Danny Sullivan in 1940, Claire Ruth kicked her out of the house. Babe meekly complied.

McIntyre, who left Ruth's service in 1942 and bought a farm in Michigan with her husband, became a substitute mother for Ruth's three grandchildren by Sullivan.

Dorothy Patterson is named for Ruth's daughter Dorothy. They even share the same middle name, Helen.

"When my Dorothy was born in June 1942, Nora decided she would name her for the first person who visited her," Ken Patterson said. "Luckily it was Dorothy Helen Ruth. Lucky it wasn't Hilda the cook, or she'd have been stuck with Hilda McIntyre."

After two months of studying Realtor snapshots of the St. Petersburg penthouse, the Pattersons flew down to visit the 80-year-old apartment in December.

They were intrigued to learn the owners discovered antique cigar butts, presumably Ruth's, in the bathroom wall while updating wiring and plumbing. Kokernot, the Realtor, took them to dinner at another of the Bambino's old haunts, the Vinoy hotel.

A couple of days later, the Pattersons signed the contract for Unit 702 of the Flori-de-Leon. Lou Gehrig, Ruth's teammate on the Yankees, rented the unit next door.

The Pattersons, retired schoolteachers, will use the apartment to escape from the Michigan chill but are equally intent on honoring McIntyre. Dorothy Patterson admits she cared little about the Ruth stories when her mother was alive, but her husband made up for her lack of curiosity.

"What I want to do is show her story and hang pictures in there. It will be a small gallery of sorts,'' Ken Patterson said.

But just as he did in life, Ruth refuses to be overshadowed. Even Patterson feels the Babe's presence when he enters the antique bathroom and kitchen.

"You wonder about the fun times and craziness he had in there,'' he said.