From Josh Moyer at the Scranton Times-Tribune on April 29, 2012, with mention of SABR member Bill Jenkinson:
Babe Ruth gripped his wooden bat as the cool, 48-degree air washed over his paunchy face.
The Sultan of Swat stepped up to Artillery Park’s home plate on a late afternoon in Oct. 12 1926, and invited four pitchers to toss their best stuff. Ruth didn’t know it yet, but he was just minutes away from performing a feat he would never again duplicate. No one in the history of baseball, at any level, at any place in the world, would ever smack a ball farther than 600 feet – so far that on-lookers couldn’t have been blamed for mistaking it for a pigeon.
One man, about 70 years later, would recount the story of this exhibition game on his deathbed. Another man, Joe Gibbons, would repeat the tale hundreds of times to his Luzerne County family members until he died a few years ago.
Gibbons witnessed this sight before he became a teenager.
The pitchers took turns facing Ruth on this fall afternoon. The quartet hoped to strike out the legendary power-hitter so they’d have bedtime stories to share with their grandchildren.
Low curveballs, sneaky change-ups, screaming fastballs. The Great Bambino nailed a few over the fence during a 10-minute span, but it was the last pitcher – Ernie Corkran – that would forever become entwined with baseball lore.
Originally published: May 1, 2012. Last Updated: May 1, 2012.