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Robert W. Creamer
September 30, 1991
The Bambino's biographer visited the set of a television movie to see the legend come to life
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September 30, 1991

The Babe Goes Hollywood

The Bambino's biographer visited the set of a television movie to see the legend come to life

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Inevitably, there will be a dissenting opinion on the movie's version of the famous "called shot" home run. On the chance that someone reading this has never heard of Babe's called shot, let me explain that it happened (or didn't happen) at Wrigley Field in Chicago during the 1932 World Series between the Yankees and the Cubs. One school of thought holds that when Ruth came to bat in the fifth inning of the third game he pointed to the centerfield bleachers and then hit a home run to the spot he had pointed to. Others say baloney, it never happened, the story is pure hokum.

The called-shot homer was not even in the TV movie at first. "But how could we leave it out?" Pace said. "Larry and I went around and around on it, and finally we put it in. Some people said, 'You can't be sure he pointed.' I said, 'The Yankee guys say he pointed, the Cub guys say he didn't. This movie is about Babe Ruth, so he points. When we do the Charlie Root story, he won't point.' " (Charlie Root, by the way, was the Chicago pitcher, and he went to his grave swearing that Ruth did not point.)

"Look," Pace said, "the main thing is, Ruth delivered. He hit one. This guy always delivered."

When Goodman left the TV film the publicity bubble went with him. and it had to be pumped up again. The script had Ty Cobb appearing in a couple of scenes, and Pace had an idea.

"This is the man," Lyttle said, putting his hand on Pace's shoulder, "who got me Pete Rose. This guy came to my office and said, 'Do you have the balls to hire Pete Rose to play Ty Cobb?' Within 24 hours we'd done the deal."

Signing Rose to play Cobb was a publicity coup, to be sure. When commissioner Fay Vincent, citing Rose's banishment from baseball, declared that Pete could not wear a uniform in the him, the publicity doubled.

"We argued with them," Lyttle said, "but we had to give in. We killed an on-field scene and beefed up a hotel scene in which Cobb and Ruth appear in civilian clothes.

"Not good enough, they said. They didn't want Rose in the movie at all. That was too much. We told them you're getting into First Amendment stuff now. That quieted things down, and Pete's in the movie. But in civilian clothes."

News stories about Vincent's refusing to let Rose wear a baseball uniform were on radio and television all over the country, and the media flocked around when Pete arrived in Cleveland on July 2 to do his cameo role. Filming had shifted to Cleveland's Municipal Stadium because Yankee Stadium scenes couldn't be done in the older-looking ballpark in California, and they couldn't be done in Yankee Stadium itself because a labor dispute in New York City had halted most on-location filmmaking there.

The set for Rose's hotel scene was constructed in the cavernous area under Municipal Stadium's rightfield stands, and Rose was on the set by 7 a.m. to be made up. His bristly hair was slicked down in proper 1920s style, and he wore a high, old-fashioned collar and tie, with the brass collar button showing. Lang and Rose rehearsed together, and then the scene was shot several times from different angles.

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Larry Lyttle 1 0 0
John Goodman 4 0 0
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Pete Rose 335 0 16