A hot summer day in the early 1970’s in Charlotte, North Carolina. An old man sits in an old wooden rocker drinking iced tea. Three small children ages 7,8, and 10 sit with their legs crossed on the floor of the front porch.
Child #1: Tell us again how you batted for Babe Ruth Grandpa.
All: Yea, tell us again, tell us again!!
Grandpa: Why do you want a hear that story again? I’ve told it 100 times already.
Child #2: You pinch hit for Babe Ruth, the greatest player of all time. That’s a great story Grandpa.
All: Yeah a great story!
Child #3: Yeah Babe Ruth was the best.
Grandpa: Well I wasn’t too shabby myself you know, I played 6 seasons with the Yankees.
Child #1: But Babe Ruth played like 16 years with the Yankees, and he hit over 700 home runs.
Grandpa: Well then maybe you should ask Babe Ruth to tell the story.
All: No no, you tell it Grandpa!!
Grandpa: OK, but don’t keep interrupting me like you always do.
All: We won’t Grandpa…promise.
Grandpa: Back in 1927 we were playing Mr. Mack’s A’s at Yankee……
Child #3: Connie Mack….right Grandpa?
Grandpa: We called him Mr. Mack….always Mr. Mack. As I was saying, we were playing at Yankee Stadium on opening day in April and it was a little cold for baseball that day.
Child #3: Could you see your breath Grandpa?
Grandpa: No, but I can see you out back chopping some wood if you interrupt me 1 more time.
Child #3: Sorry Grandpa.
Grandpa: Now the Babe never liked playing in the cold, so he wasn’t in too good of a mood, especially after he struck out 2 times. So in the 7th inning he asked Mr. Huggins, he was the Manager, if he could go back inside the clubhouse to take some bicarbonate to settle his stomach. What I really think he wanted was a couple of beers. The Babe always wanted a couple of beers. Huggins sent the Babe on his way, then looked down the bench and saw me with a bat in my hands. I always had a bat in my hands back then. So he yelled, “Ben, get up there and hit for the Babe.” Well I jumped up like I just got a hot foot, and ran to the batters box.
Lefty Grove was pitching for the Mackmen, but I always handled him pretty good, so I dug in and lined the 1st pitch I saw into centerfield driving in a run. Almost took his head off. I took off toward 1st base like a hound chasing a rabbit. I thought about going to 2nd, but I didn’t want to try anything stupid after just getting a big hit. We ended up winning the game 8-3.
All 3 children clap and give out a loud cheer.
Child #2: Tell us some more Grandpa.
Grandpa stands up and starts walking to the front door.
Grandpa: Well, if you kids eat all your supper, I’ll tell you about the time I pinch hit for Lou Gehrig.
All 3 children gape at each other as the screen door slams shut.
My apologies to William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and any other playwright I might have offended with my lame attempt at writing a play. All characters are fictional except for the ones that aren’t.
Ben Paschal did indeed play 6 seasons with the NY Yankees and he did indeed pinch hit for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. A very fine #4 outfielder,(tough to crack the starting line up when your playing behind Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, and Earle Combs) Paschal hit .309 for his career, with his best season coming in 1925 when he hit .360 with 12 home runs in just 89 games.
I’m not sure if he’s the only player to pinch hit for both Ruth and Gehrig, but I know it would make a great story to tell your grandchildren.