Julia Ruth Stevens says her father, Babe Ruth, would have led baseball to break the color barrier long before it happened in 1947 with Jackie Robinson, had Ruth had the chance to become manager.
It’s long been known Ruth had wanted to become a manager of a baseball team since he retired in 1935, but it’s long been considered that Ruth’s raucous lifestyle kept him from the managerial role.
But Stevens, 97, maintains it was MLB’s fear that Ruth would have brought in black players that kept him from ever obtaining that position, she told The New York Times.
"Daddy would have had blacks on his team, definitely," Stevens told the Times’ Peter Kerasotis.
Ruth "was known to frequent New York City’s Cotton Club and befriended black athletes and celebrities," the Times article stated. "He once brought Bill Robinson, a tap-dancer and actor known as Bojangles, into the Yankees’ clubhouse. Robinson also was with Ruth during the 1932 World Series in Chicago, and at the game when Ruth was said to have called his home run. When Ruth died in August 1948, Robinson was an honorary pallbearer."
Stevens also recalled her father speaking highly of Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige, who wasn’t allowed in the major leagues until he was 42. "Daddy thought Satchel Paige was great," she told the Times.