Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ruhl's column offers many nuggets

In the five years or so that I’ve been reading microfilm of 1950s issues of The Sporting News, I’ve come to look forward to seeing Oscar Ruhl’s column, “from the RUHL BOOK”.

I’ve shared with you many of the tidbits that I’ve found in those columns. Most of the card and collectible related excerpts that I’ve found in TSN were in Ruhl’s column.

His column in the June 14, 1950, issue covered a wide range of news, views and gossip about contemporary and past players. In that column I found several interesting items that are worth sharing with today’s collector and fan.

The bit I found most interesting involved the Babe Ruth estate. Like many deceased celebrities of today, the Babe continued to be a good earner after he had been called out by the Great Umpire.

Ruhl reported that from the time of his death through the end of 1949, the Ruth estate received $65,731 from various sources. Ruhl broke it down thus, “The movie ‘The Babe Ruth Story,’ contributed approximately $33,000 to the estate, with $1,200 coming from a radio program. Royalties on sports clothes, comic books [Editor's note: Harvey comics was publishing a title called Babe Ruth Sports Comics] and wrist watches, carrying his name, made up the balance.”

In the same column, Ruhl reported that Cleveland Indians general manager Hank Greenberg made a nod to racial sensitivity when he “decked out the Indians’ band, which plays outside the main gate at Municipal Stadium, in uniforms of the Cleveland team. Under the Bill Veeck regime,” Ruhl reported, “the band wore war feathers, blankets, etc.”

Ruhl then  reported that the “Phillies Quartette,” consisting of players Richie Ashburn, Gran Hamner, Puddinhead Jones and Dick Sisler had recorded for national distribution a battle song titled “The Fightin’ Phils.” The song was written by Bickley Reichner, with music by Elliot Lawrence. Ruhl reported that sheet music of the song was published by Elliot Music Co., and included a picture of the cover, which featured a cartoon Phillie leaning on his bat and tipping his cap. (See song lyrics below.)

Finally, Ruhl presented a bit of baseball trivia that he attributed to Tommy Gibbons, a St. Louis insurance agent and baseball fan. According to Gibbons, in a two-hour, 54 minute game between the Giants and Cardinals at the Polo Grounds, the ball was in play “from pitcher to catcher or when it was hit until action stopped,” for a total of only nine minutes and 42 seconds, according to Gibbons’ stopwatch.

I like to think that Ruhl himself was a collector; he seemed to enjoy the stories of the players and other baseball figures as much as the game itself. 
The 1950 Phillies yearbook cover featured
the music from "The Fightin' Phils".

The Fightin' Phils
Poking around the internet I was able to find the lyrics to "The Fightin' Phils".

The Fight, Fight, Fight-in' Phils!
It's a tough, tough team to beat.
They're out to win, win evey day.
Every victory is sweet.
Watch 'em hit that ball a mile;
play a game that's packed with thrills.
Get Pa to bring your Mother,
Sister and your Brother.
Come out to see the Fight-in Phils.
The fight, fight, fight-in Phils.

A search of eBay didn't turn up the recording by The Phillies Quartette, or a copy of the sheet music, but I did find out that the song was recorded by at least a couple of other acts.

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