Johnny Sylvester

John Dale Sylvester (April 5, 1915 – January 8, 1990) was an American packing machinery company executive who was best known for a promise made to him by Babe Ruth during the 1926 World Series. Sylvester was seriously ill and hospitalized. Ruth said he would hit a home run on his behalf, which was followed by what was widely reported at the time as Sylvester's miraculous recovery.

Early life

Sylvester was born on April 5, 1915, in Caldwell, New Jersey. His father, Horace Clapp Sylvester, Jr., was a banker who by 1926 was a vice president at National City Bank and served as head of its municipal department. Sylvester grew up in Caldwell and moved with his family to a large house in Essex Fells, New Jersey in 1921. At Essex Fells Grammar School, his baseball skills led to his nickname as the "Babe Ruth Kid" and he was a diehard fan of the New York Yankees and its star player, Babe Ruth.[1]

Injury and Babe Ruth

While at a rented house on the Jersey Shore in Bay Head, New Jersey during the summer of 1926, Sylvester was horseback riding when he was thrown to the ground along with his horse, after the horse had stepped into a hole. The horse tried to stand up and kicked Sylvester in the head. The injury progressed over the summer and by September he had been diagnosed with osteomyelitis in his skull, a condition that is caused by an infection that leads to bone deterioration. Doctors thought that his condition could lead to his death.[1] The condition was only one of several that Sylvester was said to be ailing from at the time, which was also variously ascribed to a back problem, blood poisoning, a sinus condition, and either a spinal infection or spinal fusion. The confusion as to the condition affecting Sylvester has led to claims that the entire incident was a hoax.[2]

Urgent telegrams were sent to Ruth, who was then with the Yankees playing the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1926 World Series. It has been unclear if Sylvester initiated the request himself, or if it had been the idea of his father or uncle as an effort to lift his spirits. Ruth sent back from St. Louis a package that included two balls, one autographed by members of the Yankees and the other by players from the Cardinals.[3] Inscribed on the ball was a note from Ruth that read, "I'll knock a homer for you on Wednesday", in Game 4 of the series.[2]

After Ruth hit three home runs in Game 4 on Wednesday, October 6, newspapers reported that Sylvester's condition had miraculously improved. After the Yankees lost the series in seven games, Ruth visited Sylvester at his home in Essex Fells, with Sylvester telling Ruth "I'm sorry the Yanks lost".[2]

The incident was featured in the 1948 biopic The Babe Ruth Story, but the film took liberties with important facts. First, the film portrayed Ruth visiting Sylvester during the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs rather than the 1926 World Series vs the Cardinals. Second, the film has Ruth visiting the Sylvester home in Gary, Indiana in person and shows Ruth in the boy's bedroom telling Johnny that he will hit a home run if Johnny hangs in there rather than sending autographed baseballs and a note to Johnny in New Jersey.[2] In the 1942 movie The Pride of the Yankees, Gary Cooper portrays Lou Gehrig, who promises a sick youth named Billy that he would hit two home runs at the World Series for the kid after Babe Ruth promised just one.[4]

While he was recovering from his illness, Sylvester also received an autographed football from Red Grange[5] and an autographed tennis racket from Bill Tilden.[6]

Later life

Sylvester graduated from Princeton University in 1937 and later served in the United States Navy during World War II, where he reached the rank of lieutenant. He was the president of the Long Island City, Queens-based company Amscomatic Inc., which manufactured packing machinery.[2]

A resident of Garden City, New York, Sylvester died at age 74 at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York on January 8, 1990. He was survived by a son, two granddaughters and a grandson.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b Charlie Poekel, Julia Beth Stevens "Babe & the Kid", p. 33, The History Press, 2007. ISBN 1-59629-267-9. Accessed June 28, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Thomas, Robert McG., Jr. "Johnny Sylvester, the Inspiration For Babe Ruth Heroics, Is Dead", The New York Times, January 11, 1990. Accessed June 28, 2009.
  3. ^ "Series Balls Aid Sick Boy – Players Autograph Spheres for John D. Sylvester, Essex Fells". New York Times. October 7, 1926. p. 21. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  4. ^ Liebenson, Donald. "Idol worship Why `fan' is short for `fanatic'", The Chicago Tribune, July 11, 1991. Accessed October 23, 2011. "The price of fame is fans. At their best, they can be inspiring, like Little Billy in the hospital in "Pride of the Yankees," for whom Lou Gehrig hits two home runs in the World Series."
  5. ^ "Grange's Football to Invalid Boy – Johnny Sylvester Places It in Bed Alongside Baseballs From World's Series Teams". New York Times. October 10, 1926. p. S3. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Boy Gets Tilden Racket – Johnny Sylvester Adds It to Trophies Until He Becomes Well". New York Times. October 14, 1926. p. 21. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
1926 World Series

The 1926 World Series, the 23rd playing of Major League Baseball's championship series, pitted the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals against the American League champion New York Yankees. The Cardinals defeated the Yankees four games to three in the best-of-seven series, which took place from October 2 to 10, 1926, at Yankee Stadium and Sportsman's Park.

This was the first World Series appearance (and first National League pennant win) for the Cardinals, and would be the first of eleven World Series championships in Cardinals history. The Yankees were playing in their fourth World Series in six years after winning their first American League pennant in 1921 and their first world championship in 1923. They would play in another 36 World Series (and win 26 of those) through the end of the 2018 season.In Game 1, Herb Pennock pitched the Yankees to a 2–1 win over the Cards. In Game 2, pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander evened the Series for St. Louis with a 6–2 victory. Knuckleballer Jesse Haines' shutout in Game 3 gave St. Louis a 2–1 Series lead. In the Yankees' 10–5 Game 4 win, Babe Ruth hit three home runs, a World Series record equaled only four times since. According to newspaper reports, Ruth had promised a sickly boy named Johnny Sylvester to hit a home run for him in Game 4. After Ruth's three-homer game, the boy's condition miraculously improved. The newspapers' account of the story is disputed by contemporary baseball historians, but it remains one of the most famous anecdotes in baseball history. Pennock again won for the Yankees in Game 5, 3–2.

Cards' player-manager Rogers Hornsby chose Alexander to start Game 6, and used him in relief to close out Game 7. Behind Alexander, the Cardinals won the final two games of the series, and with it the world championship. In Game 7, the Yankees, trailing 3–2 in the bottom of the ninth inning and down to their last out, Ruth walked, bringing up Bob Meusel. Ruth, successful in half of his stolen base attempts in his career, took off for second base on the first pitch. Meusel swung and missed, and catcher Bob O'Farrell threw to second baseman Hornsby who tagged Ruth out, ending Game 7 and thereby crowning his Cardinals World Series champions for the first time. The 1926 World Series is the only Series to date which ended with a baserunner being caught stealing.

Babe Ruth

George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948) was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. Nicknamed "The Bambino" and "The Sultan of Swat", he began his MLB career as a stellar left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. Ruth established many MLB batting (and some pitching) records, including career home runs (714), runs batted in (RBIs) (2,213), bases on balls (2,062), slugging percentage (.690), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164); the latter still stands as of 2019. Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. In 1936, Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its "first five" inaugural members.

At age 7, Ruth was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory where he learned life lessons and baseball skills from Brother Matthias Boutlier of the Xaverian Brothers, the school's disciplinarian and a capable baseball player. In 1914, Ruth was signed to play minor-league baseball for the Baltimore Orioles but was soon sold to the Red Sox. By 1916, he had built a reputation as an outstanding pitcher who sometimes hit long home runs, a feat unusual for any player in the pre-1920 dead-ball era. Although Ruth twice won 23 games in a season as a pitcher and was a member of three World Series championship teams with the Red Sox, he wanted to play every day and was allowed to convert to an outfielder. With regular playing time, he broke the MLB single-season home run record in 1919.

After that season, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth to the Yankees amid controversy. The trade fueled Boston's subsequent 86 year championship drought and popularized the "Curse of the Bambino" superstition. In his 15 years with the Yankees, Ruth helped the team win seven American League (AL) pennants and four World Series championships. His big swing led to escalating home run totals that not only drew fans to the ballpark and boosted the sport's popularity but also helped usher in baseball's live-ball era, which evolved from a low-scoring game of strategy to a sport where the home run was a major factor. As part of the Yankees' vaunted "Murderers' Row" lineup of 1927, Ruth hit 60 home runs, which extended his MLB single-season record by a single home run. Ruth's last season with the Yankees was 1934; he retired from the game the following year, after a short stint with the Boston Braves. During his career, Ruth led the AL in home runs during a season 12 times.

Ruth's legendary power and charismatic personality made him a larger-than-life figure during the Roaring Twenties. During his career, he was the target of intense press and public attention for his baseball exploits and off-field penchants for drinking and womanizing. His often reckless lifestyle was tempered by his willingness to do good by visiting children at hospitals and orphanages. After his retirement as a player, he was denied the opportunity to manage a major league club, most likely due to poor behavior during parts of his playing career. In his final years, Ruth made many public appearances, especially in support of American efforts in World War II. In 1946, he became ill with nasopharyngeal cancer and died from the disease two years later. Ruth remains a part of American culture and in 2018, President Donald Trump posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Babe Ruth's called shot

Babe Ruth's called shot was the home run hit by Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, held on October 1, 1932, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. During the at-bat, Ruth made a pointing gesture, which existing film confirms, but the exact meaning of his gesture remains ambiguous.

Although neither fully confirmed nor refuted, the story goes that Ruth pointed to the center-field bleachers during the at-bat. It was allegedly a declaration that he would hit a home run to this part of the park. On the next pitch, Ruth hit a home run to center field. The home run was his fifteenth, and last, in his 41 post-season games.

Caldwell, New Jersey

Caldwell is a borough located in northwestern Essex County, New Jersey, about 16 miles (26 km) outside of New York City and 6 miles west of Newark. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 7,822, reflecting an increase of 238 (+3.1%) from the 7,584 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 35 (+0.5%) from the 7,549 counted in the 1990 Census.Caldwell was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 10, 1892, from portions of Caldwell Township (now Fairfield Township), based on the results of a referendum held on the previous day. In 1981, the borough's name was changed to the "Township of the Borough of Caldwell", as one of seven Essex County municipalities to pass a referendum to become a township, joining four municipalities that had already made the change, of what would ultimately be more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis. Effective January 26, 1995, it again became a borough.Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, and the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, was born in Caldwell on March 18, 1837. His father, Rev. Richard Falley Cleveland, was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. The Grover Cleveland birthplace—the church's former rectory—is now a museum and is open to the public.Though today the Caldwell area is considered to be a suburb of both Newark and New York City, the area originally developed as its own individual, self-contained community and economy rather than as urban sprawl from a larger city. When it was formed, a few miles of woods separated downtown Caldwell from Newark or any of its developing suburbs.

New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Caldwell as its third-best place to live in its 2010 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" in New Jersey.

Dan Bern

Dan Bern (also known as Bernstein; born July 27, 1965) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, novelist and painter. His music has been compared to that of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Ochs and Elvis Costello.He is a prolific composer, having written over one thousand songs. He wrote the novel Quitting Science (2004) under the pen name Cunliffe Merriwether and wrote the preface under his own name.

Essex Fells, New Jersey

Essex Fells is a borough in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 2,113, reflecting a decline of 49 (-2.3%) from the 2,162 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 23 (+1.1%) from the 2,139 counted in the 1990 Census.Essex Fells was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 31, 1902, from portions of Caldwell Township (now Fairfield Township). In 1981, the borough was one of seven Essex County municipalities to pass a referendum to become a township, joining four municipalities that had already made the change, of what would ultimately be more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis. Effective January 1, 1992, it again became a borough.New Jersey Family magazine ranked Essex Fells as the best town for families in its 2016 rankings of "New Jersey's Best Towns for Families". New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Essex Fells as its 10th best place to live in its 2008 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" in New Jersey. Niche.com ranked Essex Fells as the seventh best place to live in its 2019 rankings of the "Best Places to Live" in New Jersey.

F.I.S.T.

F.I.S.T. (stylized onscreen as F.I.S.T) is a 1978 American drama film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Sylvester Stallone. Stallone plays a Cleveland warehouse worker who becomes involved in the labor union leadership of the fictional "Federation of Inter-State Truckers" (F.I.S.T.). The film is loosely based on the Teamsters union and their former President Jimmy Hoffa.Although the film was Stallone's first post-Rocky film, it was stated that the title acronym F.I.S.T. was an unintentional play on Stallone's public image as the boxer Rocky Balboa.

Garden City, New York

Garden City is an incorporated village in Nassau County, New York, United States, in the town of Hempstead. It was founded by multi-millionaire Alexander Turney Stewart in 1869, and is on Long Island, to the east of New York City, 18.5 miles (29.8 km) from midtown Manhattan. The village is located mostly in the Town of Hempstead with a small portion in the Town of North Hempstead.As of the 2010 census, Garden City's population was 22,371.The Garden City name is applied to several other unincorporated, nearby jurisdictions, as well. In the region, hamlets such as Garden City South, Garden City Park, and East Garden City are located next to the incorporated village of Garden City, but are not themselves part of it. Roosevelt Field, the shopping center and raceway built on the former airfield from which Charles Lindbergh took off on his landmark 1927 transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, is located in East Garden City. Adelphi University's main campus is in Garden City.

Harmonica Incident

The Harmonica Incident took place on a New York Yankees team bus on August 20, 1964, en route to O'Hare International Airport. Infielder Phil Linz, slightly resentful at not being played during a four-game sweep by the Chicago White Sox that was believed at the time to have seriously set back the Yankees' chances at that year's American League pennant, began playing a harmonica in the back of the bus. Manager Yogi Berra, feeling that Linz's behavior was inappropriate given the team's recent poor performance, angrily called on him to stop, whereupon Linz threw the harmonica and loudly complained about being singled out despite not having been at fault for the losses.Journalists on the bus following the team reported the incident in the next day's newspapers, and it became national news. Although Linz was fined for the incident, he received an endorsement contract from harmonica manufacturer Hohner after the company saw an increase in sales. The contract more than made up for Linz's lost money from the fine. Radio stations in Boston urged fans of the Red Sox, whom the Yankees played immediately afterward, to greet Linz at the plate in Fenway Park with a harmonica and kazoo serenade. At an exhibition game against the crosstown New York Mets, Mets players tossed harmonicas onto the field.

The incident had divergent effects on the team. For the players, it ended well: Berra's authority as their manager was decisively established and they went 30–11 through the end of the season, clinching the pennant that had seemed out of reach. For the team's management, which had been dogged all season by reports that Berra could not control his former teammates, it confirmed that impression, and efforts to find a replacement for Berra (that had reportedly already been underway) succeeded shortly afterwards, with Johnny Keane, who was considered likely to be fired from his position as St. Louis Cardinals' manager after the season concluded, secretly agreeing to become the Yankees' manager. His team also came back from deep in the standings to win the National League pennant, and then defeat the Yankees in that year's World Series. The day afterwards, Berra was fired and Keane shocked his superiors by resigning instead of accepting a contract extension. Keane took over for Berra a few days later.

Despite its role in catalyzing the team that season, the incident has been seen as the beginning of the end of the Yankees' 15-year postwar dynasty, since it also coincided with the announcement that the CBS television network was buying the team. Keane was never able to fully earn the respect of either the aging, injury-plagued stars or the few promising younger players, and in the 1965 season the team failed to win the pennant after recording its first losing season in 40 years. When the subsequent season started with even worse results, Keane was fired, though that did not prevent the Yankees from finishing in last place. They would not return to the World Series until 1976, after CBS had sold the team to George Steinbrenner.

Harold M. McClelland

Harold Mark McClelland (November 4, 1893 – November 19, 1965) was a United States Air Force (USAF) major general who is considered the father of Air Force communications. He founded and led the 19th Bombardment Group in the early 1930s, commanded Rockwell Field for a year then was groomed for higher leadership, becoming the inspector for the General Headquarters Air Force (GHQ) in 1937.

Between 1934 and 1938, McClelland researched the technical and logistical aspects of long-range air communications, an effort which resulted in the establishment of the Army Airways Communications System. Following this, he worked in the Operations and Training Division of the War Department General Staff, and served as chief of the Aviation division.

During World War II, McClelland organized the largest communications system the world had yet seen. McClelland, rated a command pilot, served as the chief of communications for the Central Intelligence Agency in the early 1950s.In the USAF, an award is given annually in McClelland's name, for excellence in large unit communications.

List of Baltimore Colts (1947–50) players

This is a list of known American football players who have played for the Baltimore Colts (1947–50) of the All-America Football Conference and later the National Football League. It includes players that have played at least one match with the team.

North Caldwell, New Jersey

North Caldwell is a borough in northwestern Essex County, New Jersey, United States, and a suburb of New York City. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 6,183, reflecting a decline of 1,192 (-16.2%) from the 7,375 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 669 (+10.0%) from the 6,706 counted in the 1990 Census.North Caldwell was incorporated by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 31, 1898, from portions of Caldwell Township (now known as Fairfield Township). In 1982, the borough was one of four Essex County municipalities to pass a referendum to become a township, joining 11 municipalities that had already made the change. Ultimately, more than a dozen Essex County municipalities reclassified themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis. Effective January 1, 1992, it again became a borough. The borough derives its name from Presbyterian minister James Caldwell.New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked North Caldwell as its 10th best place to live in its 2010 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" in New Jersey, as well as the 3rd best place to live in its 2013 ranking. In 2017, a Bloomberg analysis ranked North Caldwell the 34th richest town in the United States.

Old-Timers' Day

Old-Timers' Day (or Old-Timers' Game) generally refers to a tradition in Major League Baseball whereby a team, most prominently the New York Yankees, devotes the early afternoon preceding a weekend game to celebrate the baseball-related accomplishments of its former players who have since retired. The pattern has been copied intermittently by other sports but has failed to catch on.

The Babe

The Babe is a 1992 American biographical drama film about the life of famed baseball player Babe Ruth, who is portrayed by John Goodman. It was directed by Arthur Hiller, written by John Fusco and released in the United States on April 17, 1992.

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