Sunday, June 21, 2015

Berowne's 275

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "X" is for "Excellence")

Last week Truedessa wrote: “Can we expect another story from you soon? (Hopeful)”  So this one you can blame on her.

A few years ago, the New Yorker magazine ran an article by a writer who was amazed to learn that his father had been the last person to interview the baseball star Babe Ruth. 

As I read the article I thought, Really?  I thought I was the last person to interview Babe Ruth.

To our blogger friends who aren’t American - and today to a huge number of those who are - Babe Ruth is one of those names out of the past that probably means little.  But in the years after World War I, he was perhaps the most famous person in the United States.  Baseball was the sport of that day, eagerly followed by both the intelligentsia and hoi polloi.

According to one scholar, "Ruth's playing was an exalted, uplifting experience that meant so much to the country.  A Babe Ruth home run was an event unto itself, one that meant anything was possible."

A quick time-travel to a later year.  As an announcer, young Berowne had made it from the provinces and had managed to get a job in New York radio.  Not a prestigious, high-paying job, unless you call a buck an hour high-paying, but a job in NYC radio nevertheless.

To be in New York then; I loved it.  As Wordsworth used to say, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.”

But the fly in the liniment was my program director.

His name was Freud.  That was his first name.  Believe it or not – and I know this is going to be hard to believe – he thought that old Austrian dude’s first name was Freud so he wanted to be called Freud too.

I figured, why not; Sigmund wouldn’t mind.

He had a lot of energy: what I seek, he said, is excellence!  Anyway, as program director he had a million ideas; about 00.09 percent of them sensible.  The rest, as his subordinate, I had to try to carry out.  He would suddenly come up with another suggestion.  For example, he said to me one day: “Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers is interested in promoting a certain charity; go up there and get an interview and we’ll run it on our morning show.”

I answered patiently, using the tone of someone telling a little kid that there really is no fat man in a red suit up at the North Pole.  “Harpo,” I explicated, “doesn’t talk.”

“He doesn’t talk while doing a show,” Freud answered.  “But I was told by a guy I know who has all the inside info that he’s eager to talk on the radio for his charity.”

So I subwayed up to Harpo, met at the door by his agent/manager, who regarded me as though I was a lump from the planet Gloorg or something when I explained that I was there for an interview with Harpo.  “Harpo doesn’t talk!” he nearly shouted at me.

I reported back to Freud.  It didn’t faze him; he already had another winning idea.  His inside-info friend had told him about a fabulous chance for an interview with Babe Ruth.

Here my story turns somber.  Ruth was in the hospital and he was dying, very sick with throat cancer.  They wanted no reporters, no photographers, no press.  And here was I, in all my ignorance and inexperience, somewhat nervous, heading uptown to do an interview.

Freud had learned, by one of his mysterious sources, that the Babe would be sort of carried to the opening of the movie “The Babe Ruth Story,” which was just opening, so that he’d be able to see a bit of it, and then be taken back to the hospital.  I was waiting for him there in the lobby.

Long story short, I asked him a question.  The two men supporting him glared at me malevolently.  He answered.  At least he tried.  It may be he said something, but I was puzzled; there were no words I could understand, just strange noises.

I suddenly realized that what I was doing was something rather demeaning and very inappropriate.  I stopped suddenly and left.

Freud was so thrilled that our little morning show would be able to feature Babe Ruth that he insisted he wanted to run the “interview” as recorded.  I insisted there was no interview.   Wrong, he said, I had asked a question and the Babe answered; that’s an interview.  The fact that you couldn’t understand any of his words - there were just rather horrible gargling sounds – didn’t mean much to Freud.

However, his boss managed to talk him out of it.  My taped interview with Babe Ruth never made it to air.  I’m happy to say. 


Theresa Milstein said...

Too bad Babe Ruth didn't have a paper and something to write with. Or was he in too bad shape for even that? Amazing that you got to see the legend anyway.

DEE DEE said...

Nicely put

Anita said...

It's sad that you couldn't make out what he was attempting to say. He tried. Yes, you have the honor of the last interview.

Kathe W. said...

I love to read your "Berowne's Excellent Adventures" must have had the patience of Job to work for that guy- as did his boss. Babe Ruth was such an icon....I was raised in a baseball loving family and I got to go to a lot of baseball games in Boston. Have a great day!

Berowne said...

"I was raised in a baseball loving family and I got to go to a lot of baseball games in Boston." Ah, les Chaussettes Rouges!

brudberg said...

Interesting a name like Babe Ruth is so well known even in Sweden where we have no clue about baseball. You might have had the last gurgling sound of Babe ever recorded though.

naturgesetz said...

It's an interesting story about the Sultan of Swat, sad to think of him in that condition, and amazing how foolish your boss could be, but still, you got to meet the Bambino. Your career has certainly given you many memorable moments.

The only thing I watch on television is the ball games the Carmine Hose play.

Maria said...

I think you have the better honor of letting the man have some peace.

Truedessa said...

That was very interesting and I found myself cheering for you as you discontinued the interview. It was the right thing to do in my opinion..he was a baseball hero and should be remembered for his greatness. You know in your heart you did that interview and sometimes that is enough and I cannot help but wonder what he was trying to say.

PS - I was very surprised to see this post and see my name..I do enjoy these stories Berowne..thank you so much. If you could see me now, you would see a giant smile..I would gladly accept the blame as I adore a great story.

Kutamun said...

I think Babe was trying to say "never mind my minders , they are so anal " ......sorry you struck out , mate

Trubes said...

Although I am not from the US I have heard of Babe Ruth, I don't know much about Baseball but being a sports Fan I'm sure I would enjoy watching a game.
I watch Football(not unusual for a lass from Liverpool),I love Rugby, tennis, hockey (I used to play), Golf (husband plays),Cricket, Badminton, (again I used to play for my county), Equestrian sports and of course, The Olympics!
Yet I still have to watch a game of baseball!
As I do a lot of quizzing I've become familiar with the name Babe Ruth, that indicates how famous he is!
best wishes,
ABCW team.

BTW Berowne, I would be so pleased if you would read my last ABCW contribution for the letter W, and also read the comments between Susie-eeee Mac and I, I'd also like your slant on the movie/play that I wrote about, I'm curious to know how much you may know about it,
Thank you,
Di, xx

Roger Owen Green said...

As it turns out, I took bus to Yankee Stadium this weekend. On the excursion, they showed a movie called The Sandlot (1993), in which Babe Ruth, though long dead, plays a pivotal role.

Great story. Bosses can be such jerks.

Berowne said...

To Trubes: Sorry, I couldn't find the comment you mentioned in the "W" post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this story!

Trubes said...

Berowne, If you scroll down through all the ABCW contributors logo's beneath my post about the Waltz you will see the comments section, Please read the comment from Susie( View from the top of the ladder), we engaged in a rapport about remaking the movie again and then I suggested involving you....more of a jest really...have a nosey!
Cheers Di xx

Hildred said...

A sad story on two counts, - Babe Ruth was a real hero to baseball fans and throat cancer is not a good way to die, - but sadder still that your boss Freud was such a jerk!!!

kaykuala said...

It is not just a knack for story-telling Berowne! It is a peek at pages of history that involved well-known personalities. Seen how Babe Ruth swung his bat that easy on TV before! Leisurely but fantastic! Thanks for sharing! Wonder how he got the name!


Jae Rose said...

Integrity counts for a lot in this world Berowne...I admire that...

Sheilagh Lee said...

you have integrity Berowne that is what truly matters. I love reading a piece of history through your eyes

Berowne said...

Also, "what truly matters" is an encouraging comment like yours. Thanks again.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Good for you, Berowne, for not continuing with the interview. I had planned to be a journalist a thousand of years ago. After one semester of it, I realized I didn't have it in me to ask questions of people who were experiencing some bad times.
The View from the Top of the Ladder

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