For this series, my intent is to take a memorable moment in MLB history, and review it from the perspective of the man in the iron mask, the catcher. After all, a life spent behind bars must give a unique outlook.
The Called Shot
What: Game 3 of the World Series
When: October 1, 1932
Where: Wrigley Field-Chicago
Who: New York Yankees vs. Chicago Cubs
The Catcher: Charles Leo “Gabby” Hartnett
Background: Up two games to none, the Yankees, and Babe Ruth especially, were being jeered and ridiculed by the Cubs fans the moment they stepped onto the field for batting practice. Some sources recounted that the Cubs fans were throwing lemons at Ruth during his batting practice, but that didn’t stop him from hitting 9 balls over the fence during his practice session. This display of power carried over to his first at bat, when with 2 on and no outs, Babe hit a three-run homer. Later, in the top of the 3rd, Lou Gehrig hit a solo shot. Then in the top if the 5th, Ruth came up to bat for the third time in the game. Pitcher Charlie Root had thus far given up two home-runs.
Pitch one was a called strike. The next two pitches were both for balls. The fourth pitch of the at-bat was for another strike. As Root readied himself on the mound, Babe, tired of hearing all the talk coming from the Cubs dugout, steped out of the batter’s box, and made a “gesture,” calling his shot.
However, Gabby, who had the best view of the event, said “I don’t want to take anything from the Babe, because he’s the reason we made good money, but he didn’t call the shot. He held up the index finger of his left hand … and said, ‘It only takes one to hit.”
Though Hartnett had a great series, .313/.353/.625, the Cubs were swept.
In 1955, “Old Tomato Face” was elected to the Hall of Fame (11th ballot).