Malinowski: The curse of the Bambino’s statue

From SABR member Erik Malinowski at Atlas Obscura on June 12, 2015:

In the summer of 1935, visitors to the Baltimore Museum of Art were privy to a real treat. The curatorial staff had just been loaned an impressive, eight-foot-tall statue of New York Yankees star (and Baltimore native) Babe Ruth. A towering golem meticulously crafted from a ton of clay by the noted American sculptor Reuben Nakian, the statue was a tribute to the Babe’s prodigious power, showing the slugger at the tail end of the home run swing that had made him an international icon. Now, at the height of the Babe’s fame, the museum had a jewel of a piece that would surely attract patrons from all over.

It was, as New York Sun noted at its initial unveiling in Manhattan a year earlier, sure to “survive down the shadowy arches of time.”

But after 1935 all information about the statue’s whereabouts is gone. The disappearance was never solved, and few clues remain about who might have been responsible. To many historians, even hardcore sports fanatics, it’s like it never even existed.

“I’d never heard of it,” says Shawn Herne, director of development and chief curator of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation in Baltimore. “My executive director, who’s been here since the early 1980s and is one of the foremost Babe Ruth experts — MLB consults with him on stuff — he had never heard of it. After so many years, you think you’ve heard all the Babe Ruth stories and come across all the Babe Ruth stuff, but this was a new one.”

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Originally published: June 12, 2015. Last Updated: June 12, 2015.