|Babe Ruth’s Daughter Hits a Home Run at All Children’s Hospital|
During his heyday with the New York Yankees, legendary slugger Babe Ruth made a sizeable donation to help build the hospital that would one day become All Children's. And on a balmy Monday afternoon in St. Petersburg, more than eight decades later, his 97-year-old daughter paid a visit to All Children's to see the cutting-edge facility and reflect on her father's generosity.
"I'm sure he would say, 'I'm glad I helped get it started and I wish I had done more - he loved children,' " said Julia Ruth Stevens, in town for a two-day "100 Years of Baseball in St. Petersburg" celebration.
Members of the All Children's Foundation, including Executive Vice President Jenine Rabin, greeted Mrs. Stevens in the hospital lobby and expressed their appreciation for her dad's contribution to the American Legion Crippled Children's Hospital, noted in a 1928 St. Petersburg Times headline: "Babe Ruth to Help Kiddies: Sultan of Swat to Aid In Making Crippled Children's Hospital A Success."
Ruth's name was added to the donor wall of the All Children's as part of the presentation Monday, and Mrs. Stevens signed baseballs for the All Children's/Development Council's VIP Auction April 12 - with plaques commemorating the building of the American Legion Crippled Children's Hospital on a wall directly behind her.
"Mother and I would accompany him down here and we'd go out and watch him during spring training games," she told Rabin. "Mother went to every game, but I couldn't because I had to go to school part of the time."
Asked about her dad, she remarked, "He was such a great man. I never thought of him as a ballplayer. He was my father and a wonderful father - a bit strict I might add. But I loved him very much and he was very good to me. We used to go bowling and I would go to football games with him. And we just would have an absolutely wonderful time."
She had a wonderful time herself taking a short tour of the hospital and visiting with several young patients and their parents. "Nice to meet you, you're a very sweet girl," she told Jacquleen Brown. Several doors down, she reached out to hold the hand of a sick toddler, Kearstin Carpenter, and give her words of encouragement.
Prior to stopping by All Children's, Mrs. Stevens was the guest of honor at Al Lang Stadium before a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Canadian National Team - not far from where Ruth hit the longest home run ever recorded in Major League baseball competition: 611 feet at the old Waterfront Park.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman presented her with a special proclamation and key to the city. Mrs. Stevens rose from her wheelchair to wave and acknowledge the warm applause from the crowd, just the way her father would have done so many times.
"It's been very, very rewarding," she said of her visit to St. Petersburg. "I have such wonderful memories of St. Petersburg, and I was so happy to come down. I wish I was staying longer."