George Herman Ruth folded his copy of the Pearly Gates Gazette and laid it on the cloud next to his chair. A sly grin grew slowly across his face after reading about the Red Sox's loss to the Twins putting them now at 10 games behind the first place Yankees. He sat deep in thought for a few moments then went to the closet and took down an old box from the top shelf that had been up there for quite some time. Sitting down in his easy chair he placed the box at his feet and removed the cover. A newspaper with the headline "Red Sox Sell Babe Ruth to Yankees" lay on top, covering the rest of the contents below. He picked up the paper and read the first few paragraphs that appeared on the front page, then shook his head and tossed the paper down next to him. From the box he pulled out his old Yankees cap and glove. Putting the cap on his head, he cocked it a bit to the right, then pushed his hand into the glove that had become quite stiff over the years. Babe got up from his chair and walked over to the mirror. He smiled when he saw the image of the young man he remembered, then pounded his fist smartly into the glove to soften it. His eyes grew distant as he recalled those days at the Stadium, and he missed the attention of the children that adored him. He pulled the glove from his hand and tossed it back in the direction of the box. Taking a step back from the mirror, he got into his batting stance and took a few swings with his imaginary bat and remembered that famous home run.
Back in his chair, he stared into the box again. This time he reached in and pulled out a very tattered Red Sox cap. Turning it from side to side he looked it over carefully, then removed the Yankees cap and placed it on his head. He was about to go back to the mirror when something in the box caught his eye. He reached in and picked up a velvety cloth bag that lay in the corner. His eyes widened as he felt the object inside. Hurriedly, he opened the drawstring bag and pulled out its contents, feeling the smoothness of its curves in his hands. He thought back to the time when he had bought it for himself after the Series in '18 and how he had always enjoyed it. Another thought forced his attention quickly back into the box. Impatiently, he jostled around the remaining contents, then cracked a contented smile when he found what he was looking for. He pulled a colorful tin can out of the box and opened it. Raising the open tin to his nose, he sniffed deeply until his lungs had reached their capacity, then exhaled slowly while sinking into his chair. He shook his head in disappointment after realizing how he had forgotten all about this during those years in New York.
He put his hand into the tin, pinched the tobacco between his fingers and began filling the pipe. The process came like second nature, as he pressed the final pinch of tobacco into the bowl. Clamping the bit of the pipe firmly in his teeth, he struck a match and watched the flame as the sulfur burned away. He passed the match slowly over the tobacco, drawing the smoke into his mouth while moving his tongue around slowly to capture all of the flavor. After all these years, it still tasted just as he had remembered. He tilted his head towards the sky and exhaled while sinking even deeper into his chair. He watched the smoke slowly disappear, then drew on the pipe again. A feeling of peace and contentment engulfed him. Glancing down, he saw the old newspaper again and picked it up. Still clenching the pipe in his teeth, he stood up, opened the newspaper and began reading the rest of the story. Then, stopping suddenly, he slammed the paper shut. With a thoughtful look, he took another puff from his pipe, enjoying the warmth of the briar in his hand. He shook his head in disbelief of his own thoughts, then cracked a yielding smile and walked to the edge of his cloud. Winding up like those days on the mound, Babe hurled the newspaper into the heavens and watched as it was swept away by a celestial breeze. Slowly, the pages separated and drifted from sight, each one with it's own choreography. Then, pulling the pipe from his mouth, he pointed the stem in their direction and said with a commanding voice, "To hell with the curse, it's gone on long enough!" "It's time to celebrate the end of an era!"
More about Babe Ruth and Pipes
Babe Ruth and other celebrities of the time used to smoke their pipes at Keens Steak and Chop House in New York City. Some of Babe Ruth's pipes are still there on display. To find out more.... Click Here.
I also found an amusing story written by John Ballard about Babe and
John Barrymore appearing at Keens Steak and Chop House in the 21st Century
and smoking their pipes with little regard for the smoking ban.
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