Last living member of the 1927 New York
Recalls Ruth's 'Called
When he passed away in 1993, Mark Koenig was known as “the last living member of
the 1927 New York Yankees.” While researching Babe Ruth and his barnstorming tours,
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Koenig, who lived in Yuba City at the
Mark Koenig played shortstop on the World Series ’27 team that included Ruth,
Gehrig, Crosetti, Muesel.
Although he didn't stay long on the Yankees, Koenig was in no small way responsible
for Ruth's “called shot” in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series in Chicago. Koenig,
near the end of his baseball career, got picked up by the Cubs late in the season.
In 102 at bats, he hit .353. However, during the World Series game, Koenig was
sitting on the bench when Ruth came to bat.
The '32 Series was known as one of the nastiest ever, with the Cubs and Yankees
trading insults. The Yankees started the row when they accused the Cubs of being
cheapskates for not awarding Koenig a full share of the World Series money. The
Cubs retorted in kind, calling Ruth every invective imaginable. During his at bat
Ruth took two called strikes. Each time he made a movement, a gesture. With one
strike remaining, Ruth made a final gesture. Today's historians argue that it was
one of two things: he either pointed his finger to dead center field, like the John
Goodman parody in “The Babe,” or jabbed a finger toward the Cubs dugout. The Cubs
catcher was quoted as remembering Ruth yelled, “It only takes one!” And then he hit
the next pitch over the fence. Did he call his shot? Ruth later bragged, “It's in
all the papers, ain't it?”
Koenig, who was sitting less than 100 feet away in the Cubs dugout didn't actually
see him gesture. He wasn't watching at the time. “You don't see every move the
hitter makes when you're sitting on the bench,” he told me.
Did the last living Yankee believe Ruth did it?
“I think he was designating that he had two strikes on him. But I give him the
benefit of the doubt; he did point. There wasn't much of anything he couldn't do,”
Mr. Koenig said.
When asked if Ruth indeed called his
shot, Cubs’ pitcher Charley Root put it in proper perspective. If he’d done that,
Root said, (referring to a demonstrative pointing gesture toward center field
fence), “I’d have knocked the big baboon on his ass.”
To read more about Ruth’s famous "called shot" in 1932 check out these online
(*Note: This story was based on a phone interview conducted with Mr. Koenig in
1992, one year before he passed away)
Just for fun: What's wrong with this
Games 1 & 2 of the 1932 World Series were held at New York's
Yankee Stadium (Sep 28 & 29). Chicago's Wrigley Field was the site of
Games 3 & 4, (Oct. 1 & 2) as the Yankees swept the Cubs in the '32