Tuesday marks the 100th anniversary of one of Bristol’s biggest sports moments.
April 5, 1922 was the day Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees came to town and suffered a 10-7 loss to the Brooklyn Robins – also referred to as the Dodgers, Superbas, Nationals by newspapermen of the time – in an exhibition game at Tenneva Field (which was located on what is now Commonwealth Avenue where Strongwell Corporation sits) in front of a crowd of more than 5,000.
These were the days when Major League Baseball squads played exhibition games in various cities as they traveled north to open the season. The Yankees had held their spring training camp in New Orleans.
Ruth pounded some home runs during batting practice, but didn’t go deep once the game started at 3 p.m.
The Babe’s final stat line playing near the state line: 1-for-4, double, run scored, two strikeouts.
Gene “Pappy” Thompson, later to become the longtime sports editor at the Bristol Herald Courier, was in attendance that day and recalled Ruth’s highlights.
“Ruth slammed one clothesline double off the right field wall, but his big moment was defensively,” Thompson wrote in 1948. “A Dodger runner was on first when old Zack Wheat pulled a drive deep down the right field line. Ruth played it beautifully, whirled and in the same motion lined the ball to Baker ahead of the runner sprinting from first to third. Babe didn’t hop the ball. He just threw it on a line, a long, whistling throw that could have threaded a needle’s eye as it killed off the sliding runner.”
The matchup between the Yankees and Robins was the first of four consecutive days in which MLB players would take the field in Bristol.
The defending (and eventual) World Series champion New York Giants beat the Chicago White Sox on April 6, a split-squad Giants squad featuring Casey Stengel beat the hometown Bristol State Liners on April 7 and the Philadelphia Athletics posted a 6-2 win over the State Liners on April 8.
Here’s a story from 2020 about the time Bristol was briefly a big league city:
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