It’s an urban — well, suburban, legend — that happens to be true: Babe Ruth really did play golf at Longshore.
As George Albano — the elephant-memoried Norwalk Hour sports columnist –noted in June, the Bambino spent a week in the summer of 1946 at the River Lane home of Dr. Vito Caselnova, a longtime friend. The doctor was chairman of the golf committee at Longshore, at that time a private club.
Ruth played on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with Caselnova, Ruth’s physician Dr. George Irwin; Norwalk police commissioner Thomas Murphy, and club pro George Buck. The Sultan of Swat shot a 79, highlighted by a 35-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole.
The next day, Hour sports editor Williard Williams wrote that Ruth ”did not dub a shot. His drive was good, his approach shots excellent, and his putting almost perfect.
“In between his golf, he shook hands with scores of persons introduced to him on the course and took care of autographs for the youngsters who swarmed all over him. The Babe was as gracious as ever and seemed to enjoy it all.”
Ruth played several more times at Longshore that week. His partners included US Senator Brien McMahon.
Ruth also visited Norwalk Hospital, where he visited several Westport firefighters injured in a horrific Post Road truck blaze. He signed baseballs for — among others — brothers Nookie and Chick Powers. Both had been legendary athletes at Staples.
Just 2 years later, Ruth was dead from cancer. It started in his throat, and moved to his brain.
Caselnova’s son, Vito Jr., told Albano:
When he stayed with us he used to complain about headaches. He would come downstairs in the morning, go right to the refrigerator, and pull out a can of beer. Not to drink it, but to rub the cold can over his head. He said it made him feel better.
He said he was going to come back next year, but he never made it. He said he was going to bring another player with him, a guy named Joe DiMaggio.
Those Ruthian stories popped up yesterday. Alert “06880″ reader Seth Schachter spotted the scorecard from that June 26, 1946 round on eBay.
The auction ends Wednesday (December 11).
If you’re interested, the price is $9,999.99.
In Longshore terms, that’s over $555 a hole.