Babe Ruth’s $10,000 Longshore Scorecard

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.

Babe Ruth at Longshore. (Photo courtesy of Norwalk Hour)

Babe Ruth at Longshore. (Photo courtesy of Norwalk Hour)

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.

Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for George "Nookie" Powers. A nurse looks on.

Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for George “Nookie” Powers. Powers’ fiancee looks on.

Ruth also visited Norwalk Hospital, where he visited 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.

Babe Ruth scorecard

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.



8 responses to “Babe Ruth’s $10,000 Longshore Scorecard

  1. What a great post, Dan. You are ever the newsmaker and shaker of the news tree. Thanks for this piece of history.

  2. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    That is so cool! Also fun to remember George Buck, who taught me how to play golf.

  3. Some related history and hearsay-

    The River Road summer home that the Babe visited in 1946 is a beautiful stone mansion resembling a grand European chalet. The original property was built in the late 1920’s by a movie theater mogul – Loewe who was purportedly the financial backer of the MGM movie studios. Dr Caselnova acquired the home in 1930. We heard rumors about Dr Caselnova ranging from being a plastic surgeon to being a “mob doctor” ! Is there anyone out there who can fill in the true details?

    The mansion’s land extended from Wilton Road through to River Road and included a carriage house, a caretaker house and many formal stone walls- all still there.

    A 1965 map interestingly lists the street running into the property off Wilton Road as Casanova Lane- not Caselnova Lane. In 1965 the property was bought and developed by Al Restivo and the street was renamed for his daughter April- hence the current April Lane/Drive.

    Finally, the backlawn of the original mansion was called the apple orchard (a few crabapple trees remained when we moved to April Lane/Drive in 1973) and our sons Michael, Richard and Evan played ball in that orchard with all the neighborhood kids when they weren’t at the local little league ball fields. The Babe, according to legend, hit a few balls and had a catch or two there when he visited in 1946. It would be great if anyone out there could confirm that story as well!!

    • Regarding Dr. Caselnova and the Rice’s Lane property – the 1935 tax directory shows V. Edward Caselnova as the owner of a 7.74 acre parcel on Rice’s Lane with two separate houses and other buildings valued by the assessor at $85,780 (big money).

      My 1942 map of Westport shows the bisecting road as Lowes Lane – definitely credence to name of the former owner of the Caselnova property.

      A 1952 Westport Directory shows Nicholas and Grace Caselnova and Vito and Catherine Caselnova living on “Casa Nova Lane” – Vito is still shown as living on “Casa Nova Lane” 10 years later in the 1962 directory, along with Edward (student), Kenneth (student), Martin (Air Force) and Nicholas. By the time of a map I have from the early 70s, it’s definitely April Drive.

  4. Nancy Powers Conklin

    Another great column, Dan! Thanks for being such an upstanding Westport citizen and getting all of these memories out to people who had no idea what Westport was like way back then.

  5. I grew up with my family Charles and Helen Burke at 7 April drive which was the gardners house. My family bought it from Al Restivo for 35,000.00, around 1966. It certainly was a magical home, the current owner bought it from my parents in 1987 and are still there. I certainly knew the Casanova name as it was on all the door mats. The neighborhood grew as Al built the builders colonials around the circle. The Burkes’ Charley taught psychology at Staples , Helen did tag sales and real estate later on we’re the first to join the Restivo on now April drive. I had not known about Vitos prior ownership but always wondered about the Casanovas.

  6. The only professional (PGA)
    golf tour tournament I ever attended was played at Longshore and I believe it was the only one played there. It was in the mid ’40s. Fun watching the pros of that era, who appeared to be having great fun while they competed.

  7. Was the 12th hole the same back then as it is now?