03-13-2002, 01:35 PM
The NY papers have some interesting articles re teammates stealing from each other. Most notable was the Babe Ruth / Leo Durocher incident. This article quotes Eldon Auker as saying that the stolen watch incident happened in the team hotel in Detroit and Babe wiped the floor with Durocher. I seem to remember a fight between the two, but it happened in the clubhouse. Leo pushed Babe into a locker and pummeled him while his arms were pinned. Sounds like Durocher.
PS My niece was Baptized this weekend in the private chapel in the rectory of St. Gregory's Church, 90th Street in Manhatten. So what? That's the room where Babe married Clair in 1929. I have pictures of the floor.
03-13-2002, 01:39 PM
Why the floor? Anyway - - see this on the Ruth story:
The regulars on the team didn't want any part of rooming with the Babe, so the Yankees would always bring up a rookie and assign him to be Ruth's roommate. By the end of the road trip, the rookie could barely stand up, much less stand in against the best pitching he had ever seen.
Finally, the Yankees found a young shortstop who had what it took to withstand rooming with Babe and all his late-night interruptions. The kid made it through the first road trip and didn't utter a single complaint about his new roommate. The rook didn't show any of the normal signs of fatigue the others had shown. The next road trip arrived; they had the kid room with Ruth again, and again the roommate aired no complaints for the entire trip. The Yankees were convinced that they had finally found a roommate for the Babe and rid themselves of a nagging headache.
Then, during maybe the third trip the Yankees took with Ruth and his seemingly compatible new roommate, the Babe noticed he had been spending his money even more rapidly than usual. At the same time, some of the guys in the clubhouse noticed that they were missing some valuables, including money, watches, and rings.
This was very unusual; in that era, the sanctity of the clubhouse was such that I could lay a thousand-dollar bill on the floor on Opening Day and it would be there in the same spot, untouched by human hands, on the final day of the season. Fooling with a teammate's possessions was a taboo. Period. It just wasn't done. I would never have thought about reaching into someone else's locker to take anything, not even something as harmless as a bar of soap.
Ruth had more money than anyone on the team, so it was no surprise that he became the thief's No. 1 target. The Babe grew suspicious when he had to start checking for a hole in his pocket, he was spending his money so fast. Finally, when a gold pocket watch someone had given to him turned up missing, Babe decided to set a trap for the thief. He marked five $100 bills.
The Yankees were in town to play the Tigers (four years before I joined the team), and were staying at the Detroit Leland Hotel, where I first reported when I came up and where I first heard the story of how Ruth trapped and punished the thief.
Ruth came in at about 2:00 a.m., feeling good, and his sound-sleeping roommate was out cold. Ruth already suspected that his roommate might be the mystery crook, so he walked over to his roommate's bag and checked an out-of-the-way compartment in it. He found the five marked bills, and the gold pocket watch tumbled out and fell onto the floor. He pulled his roommate out of bed and proceeded to wipe up the room with him. He kicked the hell out of him so badly and made so much noise doing it that guests throughout the hotel awakened and alerted security.
Knocks at the door went unanswered as the power hitter continued to administer the beating the shortstop so richly deserved. Security unlocked the door and found that the big man in the room had beaten the little man seemingly to within inches of his life.
The Yankees did a magnificent job of keeping the story hush-hush and out of the newspapers, but people in Detroit, from the hotel to the clubhouse, knew exactly what had happened. The shortstop was sent back to New York the next day and was then released outright. Word spread throughout the American League that the released player was a no-good thief and he was blackballed from ever getting another job with an American League team. If not for the forgiving heart of Branch Rickey, the shortstop's career would have been over.
03-13-2002, 01:56 PM
Thanks for your extremely informative reply. Two questions:
1. Did Auker ever mention Durocher by name?
2. Was Leo alive at the time of the interview?
03-13-2002, 02:02 PM
2. Not sure - probably not.
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