When Babe Ruth was walloping home runs, escalating his total to previously unexplored heights, some of them that should have been celebrated were merely passed off as just another achievement of the Sultan of Swat. Nobody quite knew the importance of a home run such as number 600.
Ruth’s 600th home run, a drive hit in St. Louis, was only worthy of a few mentions in the New York Times the following day (Aug. 22, 1931). In the article entitled, “Yanks Win, Ruth Driving 600th Homer,” the home run is acknowledged as his 600th, but nothing more:
Babe Ruth hit the six-hundredth home run of his major league career today and the thirty-fifth of this season as the Yankees defeated the St. Louis Browns 11 to 7.
Beyond that first sentence and the title, Ruth’s home run is mentioned as just that — a home run. However, below the box score, a small section details the meeting between Tony Gallico, the young kid who caught the 600th blast, and Babe:
Babe Ruth and little Tony Gallico engaged in a business transaction out at the St. Louis Browns’ park today, much to the satisfaction of each.
The Babe hit the 600th home run of his major league career and was anxious to get the ball, which hit a motor car outside the park.
‘I’d give a $10 bill and a new ball to get that old one back,’ the Sultan of Swat announced.
Tony arrived before long with the old ball, collected the $10 and the new baseball from the Babe and then paid a brief visit to the press box. Tony said he was “plenty happy,” and the Babe’s broader-than-usual smile didn’t indicate disappointment.
Ruth’s offering of $10 for his 600th home run compared to the $20 offered for his 500th in 1929 just may show the importance of the lower-numbered ball. The Babe was making $80,000 in 1931 while only making $70,000 in 1929, so the money was not the problem. Also, he did not know who caught the respective balls (both were hit out of the stadium) so no fast ones were pulled on the young Gallico.
Either way, the $10 given by Ruth to Gallico is the 2012 equivalent of $151.46. In 2010, Alex Rodriugez hit his 600th home run into Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The ball was retrieved by a security guard and given to Rodriguez. However, in an ESPN article, the managing director of SCP Auctions said the ball, by his estimate, would auction for between $100,000 to $150,000, no where close to that measly $150.
Next Home Run: Lou Gehrig’s 6th in 6 Consecutive Games in 1931
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