About the time of the 1927 barnstorming adventures, the relationship between fellow New York Yankee stars Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig began to change.
The young Gehrig was originally one of those who sat at the feet of the great Bambino and adored his every move. As Gehrig matured, however, he began to stand up to Ruth. Over their years together on the Yankees, there were verbal spats between the pipe-smoking, college-educated Lou and the ebullient, stogie-chomping Babe.
On the field they were cordial, even friendly (the look on Lou's face as Babe touches home after his "called shot" homer in the 1932 World Series is one of childish delight), but their lifestyles and manners were too different to allow much else.
For awhile their children played together, but one day Gehrig's mother made a rude comment that Dorothy, the Ruths' adopted daughter, wasn't dressed as well as Julia, Claire's offspring. Claire, Ruth's second wife, heard of it and was outraged.
When she told the Babe, so was he. Ruth sent a message to Gehrig the next day: "Don't ever speak to me again off the ball field." With that, the natural rivalry between the two ballplaying geniuses turned into something quite personal and ugly.
In her biography, Claire takes full responsibility for the chill between the two great players, saying she overreacted. Ruth and Gehrig would pose for pictures as courteous teammates, but their relationship was solid ice.
They didn't make up until Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day in 1939, the day of the dying Lou's famous "I'm the luckiest man on the face of the earth" speech. After he finished speaking, he turned to look, almost as if for approval, to his estranged former teammate (by this time Ruth was out of baseball). The Babe responded by giving Lou a giant hug.
But this resolution was years ahead. Click to the next page for details of Babe Ruth's tumultuous 1928 baseball season.
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