Baseball Hall of Famer George “Babe” Ruth was cleared Wednesday of his 1919 conviction for allegedly inflicting a curse upon the city of Boston.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court chief justice Roderick L. Ireland struck down Ruth’s conviction for “malevolently impeding upon the welfare of the Boston Red Sox by means of witchcraft,” a felony charge that has stood since Ruth’s move to the New York Yankees in the seventh year of the Wilson administration. The court cited Boston’s three World Series championships this century as grounds to overturn Ruth’s conviction.
Insufficient evidence and prosecutorial misconduct were found in the case prepared by crusading Boston district attorney William Seamus “Wild Eyes” O’Sullivan, who tried Ruth under the state’s “Giles Corey Statute,” which was entered into the books in 1692 and recently used to indict Gisele Bundchen for “making Tom Brady lose to the Giants.”
Efforts in recent years by the Justice for Ruth Cultural Center, including the acclaimed documentary “Don’t Call Me Witch: The Indemnity of George Ruth,” sparked a re-examining of the Baltimore native’s sentence.
“I am gratified that the court today cleared my name of these charges. Though the city of Boston cannot give me back the more than 90 years that this miscarriage of justice was allowed to exist, I’m hopeful that my family and I can begin the process of healing,” Ruth said in a statement on the steps of Faneuil Hall.
Ruth declined to comment on his pending defamation suit against “Boston Globe” columnist Dan Shaughnessy.
“It was really [then-Boston owner] Harry Frazee’s decision to sell me to the Yankees. He needed to finance some Broadway show. I just wanted to make money playing baseball,” Ruth said.
Ruth cited Bob Stanley’s wild pitch in the sixth game of the 1986 World Series and poor managerial decisions by Grady Little in the 2003 ALCS to bolster his case that human error, and not a mystical curse, contributed to Boston’s 86-year World Series drought.
42-term Boston City Councilman William Thomas “Boss” O’Harrington expressed disappointment in the court’s decision.
“He put a curse on us if you want to know a thing about it. A magic spell. Like a wee little man in the old country. Worked like gangbusters. Terrible thing for this city. We had the unions, though, so we got around it,” O’Harrington said in a statement.
Though Ruth may not have been guilty of the charges brought against him, Boston University historian Dr. Francis Tellweather said that the fabled “Curse of the Bambino” was actually a positive force for the city for generations.
“Back when we were losing every year, there was a collective pride, a citywide feeling of indignation that brought people together. The ‘wait ’till next year’ thing. It was cute. People liked it. Remember ‘Cheers?,’” Tellweather said.
“But since 2004, the whole Red Sox Nation thing has just exploded among clueless white people everywhere. I mean, do you think Johnny Pesky feels good when he comes to an old-timer’s game now and sees a bunch of 28-year old chicks in pink Red Sox caps singing along to ‘Sweet Caroline’? Or, you know, Maggie Gyllenhaal sitting next to the dugout or something? Sean Penn came once. It’s just ridiculous.”
“Half of the people in the new seats above the Green Monster wouldn’t be able to pick Carlton Fisk out of a goddamn police lineup,” Tellweather added. “Who wore Number 9? Ted Williams. You’re sitting right next to his retired number. But you people don’t have a clue.”
At press time, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen King, Clay Aiken, and former Bachelor runner-up Teena Tavalez are at work on the commemorative Red Sox album, “2013: Wicked Songs for Southie from the movie The Departed.”