Updated: Feb 12, 2022
(photo contributed by mancavepictures.com)
Having won the first two games of the 1932 World Series, the Yankees found themselves at Wrigley Field in Chicago to take on the Cubs for Game #3. This World Series would mark the first time teams wore numbers on the backs of their jersey and it seemed that all eyes were on #3, Babe Ruth!
"Roughly 50,000 Cubs fans showed up for Game 3, a very large crowd for the time made possible by the construction of temporary bleachers fronting Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. In a prelude of things to come, Ruth and Gehrig put on an impressive batting display in batting practice. Ruth launched nine balls into the outfield stands, while Gehrig hit seven. Ruth had stated that, 'I'd play for half my salary if I could bat in this dump all the time!'
Cub starter Charlie Root struggled in the opening frame. The first two Yankees reached base on a walk and error, and Babe Ruth followed with a home run into the right-center-field bleachers to put the Yanks up 3–0. The existing newsreel footage showed Gehrig giving Ruth a friendly swat on the rear as Ruth crossed the plate. (The photo above was snapped as Ruth rounded second base on his way to the plate. It would be the first of two home run the Bambino would hit in game #3) The Yankees got two, two-out singles that inning, but failed to score. In the bottom half, Billy Herman drew a leadoff walk off George Pipgras and scored on Kiki Cuyler's double. Gehrig hit a home run in the top of the third to put the Yankees up 4–1. In the bottom half, Cuyler homered with one out, then after a single and forceout, Grimm's RBI double cut the Yankees lead to 4–3. Next inning, Billy Jurges doubled to left after Ruth's futile dive for the ball and scored on an error to tie the game. In the top of the fifth, back-to-back home runs by Ruth and Gehrig put the Yankees up 6–4 and knock Grimm out of the game. The Yankees got another run in the ninth aided by two errors on Chapman's double off Jakie May. Though Gabby Hartnett hit a leadoff home run in the bottom half and Billy Jurges singled off Pipgras, Herb Pennock retired the next three batters to end the game and leave the Yankees one win away from the championship." (Wikipedia)
Although the details above give a blow-by-blow account of how the runs were scored in game #3 of this Yankees versus Cubs World Series, but what it leaves out is the only story most remembered by any fan, Yankee or not - Ruth's Called Shot! It was now the 5th-inning and it was Ruth coming to the plate. With many accounts written and told about this single at bat, it is either all fact or pure conjecture or a little of both on what really happened. With Babe now poised at the plate, the Cubs players on the bench and the majority of the 50,000 fans looking on at Wrigley began harassing the "Sultan of Swat" with insults and trash talking at a volume pitch trying to unhinge the hitter and distract his duties of getting on base. With each pitch the heckling got louder and louder. And as it did, Babe dug into the box a little harder with a look of determination. The intensity of the moment grew as if the stadium would explode. Another pitch went by counting two strikes against him. The hecklers on the Cubs bench were really razzing the Babe now who kept looking over at then. Suddenly, stepping out of the batter's box, Babe points to the center field bleachers with a gesture to Charlie Root on the mound, the hassling players watching from the bench and the enormous crowd looking on from all points of the stadium. Did Ruth just call his shot? In sequence to Ruth's pointing and the next pitch, the Bambino "hit what was estimated as a nearly 500-ft "Ruthian" homer to deep center past the flagpole and into the temporary seating in the streets." And the legend and legacy of "The Called Shot" was born, arguably the most debated moment in baseball's history. Ruth's own account only embellished the details and created in the minds of every fan a side of "truth" still believed today. Did Ruth really call his shot? I believe!
(A detail from Robert Thom's painting depicting Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” in the 1932 World Series, is part of the Hall of Fame’s collection of artwork. B-325.76A (National Baseball Hall of Fame)
Babe Ruth greeted by Lou Gehrig at home plate after hitting his "Called Shot" - BL-6499.76 (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)