When I was a youngster, my Mom used to work second shift at a diner. Every night, after eating dinner, my Dad would take me and my two brothers to visit our Grandmother. At about nine o’clock each evening, my grandmother would make me a cup of coffee and put about three spoons of sugar in it. I’d drink it and then head home with my Dad and brothers. Since there was no way I could fall asleep with all that caffeine and sugar in my system, I’d beg my father to let me watch a little TV and then fall asleep on the couch. He’d usually relent. Dad would then sit on his chair and fall asleep in about five minutes and I would stay up and watch the late show, making sure to close my eyes and fake being asleep as soon as I heard my mother’s car door slam when she got home from the diner, after midnight.
It was on one of these nights long ago, when I was wired on caffeine that I saw the movie “The Babe Ruth Story” for the first time. For me, it was an experience that can best be described by comparing it to a kid today visiting Disney World for the first time. Up until that night, the only things I knew about the Bambino were the stories I read about him in books and magazines. Then suddenly, there in front of me on my parents’ black and white Sylvania, was the Sultan of Swat himself. It took about three weeks for my brothers and parents to finally convince me that the Babe Ruth in that movie was actually the late great Hollywood Actor, William Bendix. And since I can’t find a real member of the Yankee’s All-Time roster who was born on January 14, we’re going to wish Hollywood’s first Babe Ruth, aka Mr Bendix, a happy birthday instead. He was born on January 14, 1906 in New York City and passed away much too young, in 1964. Note: Other actors who have portrayed Ruth in films include John Goodman “The Babe” (2003) Brian Dennehy “Everyone’s Hero” – animated (2006) Babe Ruth also portrayed himself in “Pride of the Yankees” (1942).