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Mary Ruth Moberly

Mamie RuthShe was born as Mary Margaret Ruth, but everyone knew her as “Mamie” – the name, she would say, her brother George would use to annoy her.  Mamie was the little sister of baseball’s immortal Babe Ruth.

Mamie was one of eight children, but only she and her brother, George Herman Ruth, who was 5 ½ years older, survived to adulthood. 

Her family lived over her father’s saloon, Ruth’s Café, in what is now center field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles.

She married Wilbur Marion Moberly, a clothing cutter, and lived for many years in Baltimore.  Mamie, a homemaker, moved to Hagerstown to be with her daughter and son-in-law after her husband’s death about 1964.

As the sister of baseball’s biggest legend, Mamie was called on often since his death in 1948 for memories of his childhood.  She always said she was proud of her brother’s baseball skills and would sometimes sign autographs “Babe Ruth’s sister.”

Mamie was an occasional visitor to Baltimore, attending ceremonies for the groundbreaking and opening the Babe Ruth Museum, along with special occasions there.  She was very positive about Oriole Park at Camden Yards and felt it was an honor they had built a ballpark on the spot where her brother had played stickball when he came home.

Mamie made her first trip to a movie theater in years to see “The Babe” starring John Goodman.  She said the Babe was not as wild as the movie made him out to be.  “He wasn’t, but he was always so full of mischief,” she said.  “He really could smoke cigars.”

Mamie passed away in 1992 at the age of 91.  She was survived by her daughter, Florence Margaret Binau, two grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. 

The following article was taken in part from an article by Stan Goldberg, Sports Editor, that appeared in THE FREDERICK NEWS POST in 1984. 

Mamie Shares Memories 

FREDERICK, MD – With her white hair and dressed in a neat blue suit, the elderly lady looked out of place sitting in the crowded grandstands during the first game of the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series.  But, Mamie Ruth Moberly probably belonged there more than anyone.  She is Babe Ruth’s younger sister.

She is 83 years old and, when introduced later, had to take someone’s arm as she walked onto the field.  But as Mrs. Moberly talked during the first game, she was very alert with a certain sparkle about her.  She was obviously having fun.

“Memories, I have so many memories of my brother,” Mrs. Moberly said.  “It’s hard to just remember a few of the memories.  But my brother didn’t die until 1948 and I was 48 at the time.  I remember quite a bit about him.”

The Babe was the oldest in the family and she was the fifth of eight children, but they were the only two to live to adulthood.  Five others died in infancy and another when he was about two years old.

“My brother nicknamed me Mamie,” she said.  Her real first name is Mary.  “I didn’t like it at the time, but it stuck.”

What was her famous brother like as a child?

“He was like all boys, full of mischief,” she said.  “They always said he was bad, but he wasn’t bad, just full of mischief.  He didn’t like school.  That’s why daddy put him in St. Mary’s.”

“The only thing he was interested in was baseball.  We had parks where we lived (in Baltimore) and he played there all the time.  I always figured he would make a good baseball player because he loved the game so much.”

“And he also like to eat,” Mrs. Moberly said.  “He was always a big eater as a kid.”

“I also remember when he first signed a contract.”  Ruth signed with the then minor league Orioles in 1914 as a pitcher.  “Father was real glad because my brother finally got what he wanted.”

There are a lot of rumors about the Babe – one that he grew up in poverty.  But that was not true, Mrs. Moberly said.

“We were middle class,” she said.  “We didn’t want for anything.  We were not poor.”

After her brother signed a contract, he returned to Baltimore during the off season where he and his father were in the saloon business together.  They owned a place at Lombard and Eutaw streets in Baltimore.

Throughout his career, the Babe kept in touch with his sister.  “I used to see a lot of games, especially the ones in New York,” she said.  “I was at the game where he called his own home run.”

And she was also at his farewell appearance in Yankee Stadium in 1948.  The Yankees held a special day for the Babe who was dying of cancer.

“I didn’t know if I was going to make it through that day,” she said.  “It was so depressing.”

She met many famous baseball players, but the one she remembers the most was Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig.  “I knew him well.  He was always nice to me and my family.”

Mrs. Moberly has lived in Hagerstown with her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson Binau, for about a year.  She lived in Florida, Hagerstown and Baltimore before that.  Her husband of 46 years died in 1964.

Asked what the Babe Would think of baseball now, she said he would probably find it confusing.  “It would be strange to him.  It is an altogether different game than when he played.”