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.