Fitzpatrick: Before Babe Ruth, there was Phillies slugger Gavvy Cravath

From Frank Fitzpatrick at the Philadelphia Inquirer on September 22, 2015:

Municipal Judge Clarence Cravath’s reputation for crustiness led California lawyers to avoid certain topics in his Laguna Beach courtroom.

Mentions of foreign law or Washington bureaucrats could ignite the prickly temper that decades earlier earned Cravath the nickname “Cactus.” And any attorney who mentioned Babe Ruth’s name risked not just his case but his well-being.

“He wasn’t much of a fan of Babe Ruth,” his granddaughter, Ginger McMillian, told the New York Post in 2000. “He didn’t like Babe’s style. He thought he was a hot dog.”

He had good reason to feel that way.

Aided by the tightly wound balls A.J. Reach’s Fishtown factory began manufacturing in 1920, Ruth had an unprecedented ability to hit home runs that transformed the way baseball was played and perceived. His mind-boggling numbers quickly overshadowed stats and stars from the Deadball Era, when “small ball” had been prized over the long ball.

Among those forgotten heroes were a few sluggers and, as it happened, Judge Cravath, known as “Gavvy” in his baseball days, had been the best of them all.

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Originally published: September 22, 2015. Last Updated: September 22, 2015.