Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Even Ruth Didn't Know the Truth

Katie Ruth is finally getting a gravestone, thanks to the efforts of Paul Harris and the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. Little has been written about the Babe's mother, and some of what has been written is wrong.

Even Ruth swung and missed. He had two ghost-written autobiographies. The first, published in 1928, didn't specifically mention either parent. The second one, in 1948, did. But Ruth got the facts wrong. He said his mother's maiden name was Schanberg and she lived until he was 13. Actually, she was born Catherine Schamberger, and she died in 1912, when the Babe was 17. The mistakes are hardly surprising. It's not really clear what the slugger knew about his mom - in life or in death. [Link]


My mother's mother was a Ruth. Her grandfather moved to Michigan with his parents and a brother in 1868 from eastern Pennslyvania, somewhere between Easton and Philadelphia, an area where I think their family had probably lived for more than a century after emigrating from Germany. Considine's biography of the Babe said Ruth thought his parents were Irish, but the middle name Herman suggests German extraction.

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