A festive Detroit winter tradition continues as the 37th annual Babe Ruth Birthday Bash hosted by Tom Derry will take place at Nemo’s Bar in Corktown on Saturday February 3rd beginning at 7:14 (home run totals) PM.
As baseball’s most celebrated player and personality, the Babe, who was born 129 years ago on February 6th, always had a fondness for Detroit where he loved to party and play both on and off the field.
As usual, Tom Derry who for years maintained the field at the Tiger Stadium site as part of the Navin Field Grounds crew and the diamond at Hamtramck Stadium, will have Nemo’s decorated with Babe Ruth photos, famous quotations, and other memorabilia. Admission is free and peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and Baby Ruth candy bars will be provided. In addition, the legendary Red Hots Coney Island will be serving hot dogs topped with their famous coney sauce recipe that dates back more than 100 years. Donations for the dogs will be accepted. The traditional birthday cake will also be presented.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of his only batting title when he batted .378 in 1924. That season he also led the American League with 46 home runs and 143 runs scored.
No player in history has more career home runs against the Tigers than Ruth’s 123 dingers. Four of his milestone blasts were belted at Navin Field. On July 18, 1921 Ruth blasted an historic shot officially measured at 560 feet for his 36th of the season and the 139th of his career surpassing Roger Connor and setting the major league record for career home runs. His 200th homer was hit on May 12, 1923 off Herman Pillette and No. 700 was slammed off Tommy Bridges on July 13, 1934 while playing his last season with the Yankees.
On June 8, 1926 the “Great Bambino” hit what is believed to be the longest home run-in major-league history, officially measured at 626 feet.
In 1933 Tiger owner Frank Navin contacted Ruth about managing the Tigers but the slugger instead of meeting immediately played exhibition games in Hawaii thinking he could talk to Navin later. After the owner acquired Mickey Cochrane to manage the Bengals, Ruth called it the “biggest boot of my career.”
The area around Nemo’s, once ranked as the #3 sports bar in America by Sports Illustrated, is Ruth country. Navin Field, now the Police Athletic League’s field, is just one block west of Nemo’s. One half mile west is the Michigan Central train station (now Ford offices) where Ruth and his teammates arrived. Just a few blocks East of Nemos’s is the Book Cadillac Hotel where Ruth and the Yankees stayed.
When Babe Ruth was in Detroit during the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition, he rarely had difficulty finding drinks, friends, and even strangers to party with, whether it was at an illegal speakeasy or someone’s home.
Around 1928 the Babe and Tigers’ slugger Harry Heilmann were invited by Detroit contractor Alfred Tegne to party in the basement of his home on Hubbell Street with a bunch of other friends where illegal drinks and good cheer flowed. The photo accompanying this article shows Ruth seated in the center front row while Heilmann is a couple of rows back and to the right (number 9 in photo) with his hand partially covering his face as though he was trying to hide so he would not be recognized.
Using an old City of Detroit directory, Derry confirmed that the address of the home which is now being renovated is located at 13359 Hubbell, just south of Schoolcraft near Grand River Avenue.
It is in the spirit of that Hubbell Street party nearly 100 years ago that Derry’s Babe Ruth Birthday Bash continues to flourish.
For more information, visit the Babe Ruth Birthday Party Facebook page at: Babe Ruth Birthday Party | Detroit MI | Facebook