Babe Ruth’s daughter dies at 102

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One of my favorite bits of trivia is that president John Tyler — in office from 1841-1845 — still has two living grandsons. Not great-great-great grandsons, but grandsons. One of my second favorite bits of trivia was that Babe Ruth’s daughter was still alive. But, alas, she has now sadly passed: Julia Ruth Stevens, aged 102, died on Saturday night.

Stevens was born in 1916 and her mother married Ruth in 1929, after which he adopted her. That marriage, by the way, happened on Opening Day of the 1929 season. Imagine if, say, Aaron Judge got married on the day of a game. My God, the takes.

Stevens and Ruth took to each other wonderfully. He taught her to bowl and golf and how to dance. She traveled with him around the world as he was at the height of his fame and she called him “Daddy” until the day she died. She gave many interviews while in her 90s, talking of both her love for her father and how much love her father showed her. Which contrasted to the story told by her sister Dorothy, also adopted and later raised by Ruth but, as revealed decades later, his biological daughter from an affair, who cast Ruth as a distant father. Which is to say that every story is more complicated than any one teller would have you believe, even if they are telling the truth as they knew it.

Stevens moved to New Hampshire as an adult and became a Boston Red Sox fan for the rest of her life. Which, given that Ruth began his career in Boston and given that the rivalry between the Sox and Yankees wasn’t all that hot until the 1970s and beyond, probably wouldn’t have bothered the Babe that much. That’s the case even if it likely irked still-living fans when Stevens threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park during the 1999 ALCS. It probably helps that she also threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium before the final game in the House That Ruth Built back in 2008 and was, overall, an ambassador for her father and the game far more than she was for any team.

Life has a long tail. Stuff that happened in the seemingly distant past wasn’t as long ago as you might think when you measure it by lives lived. Julia Ruth Stevens was proof of that.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.