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A Moment in History

The Babe Ruth Alumni Association recently received a letter from. Bill Klosterman of Middletown, Ohio, who shared some of his experiences when his days volunteering as a manager and coach for Babe Ruth League. 

Volunteers are the powerful force behind Babe Ruth League.  And it has been their dedication over the decades that has made our organization so successful. 

Bill Klosterman is certainly one of those dedicated volunteers.  At 85, he still remembers his time in the program like it was yesterday. 

We are honored to include a story shared in his letter:

“I was manager of the 1953 Cincinnati, Ohio Babe Ruth team that played in an eight-team World Series held in Trenton, New Jersey.  I was only 20 years old and had given up a baseball career to study engineering, which became my profession.  I coached until 1978.

Coca-Cola sponsored the World Series.  Debbie Reynolds sang the Star Spangled Banner during Opening Ceremonies.  Her then husband, Eddie Fisher, also performed during Opening Ceremonies.

Teams stayed in a downtown hotel. Fire truck escorts picked them up from the Philadelphia Train Station and took them to the hotel.  Back then, there was no air travel to the World Series.

One of my pitchers – Art Mahaffey – wound up pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.  He made the front page of Sports Illustrated, and appeared in All-Star games for the National League. 

During the World Series Banquet, I sat across from 15-Year-Old player Carl Yastrzemski, who was a member of the New York team from Long Island, and 13-Year-Old player Ron Santo from the Seattle Washington team.    Carl, who played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox was the first Babe Ruth League graduate to be elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.  Ron ending up playing for the Chicago Cubs.

The 1953 Babe Ruth World Series was the only 13-15 Boys National Tournament in the United States, besides Little League and American Legion.  The caliber of play was sensational.

Back then, Babe Ruth League tournaments were single-elimination.  You needed a multitude of top-ranked pitchers to advance from State to Regionals and into the World Series.  Pitchers had to sit out of the next game if they threw one pitch.

My backup pitcher was Dick LeMay, who went on to be a teammate of Willie Mays on the San Francisco Giants.  He pitched a No-Hitter in AAA and helped the Giants win the 1962 National League Pennant.

#3, #4 and #5 pitchers all went to the Big Ten – Michigan, Indiana, Illinois.  We won the Ohio State title by beating Carl Bouldin, who had a long Major League career in the American League.

The teams were so good.  Cincinnati’s Purcell won the Ohio Big-School High School Championship in June 1953.  That same week, we started to organize the 13-15 All-Star team from our Babe Ruth league.

Our Babe Ruth League All-Stars (13-15) played Purcell only a week after their State High School title win.

Mahaffey pitched the first three innings – facing nine batters and striking out seven.  We went on to win 5-2, receiving a monumental confidence boost into the tourney.