Cubs Babe Ruth Called Shot Bobblehead: Why Not "Root" For the Home Team?

Cubs Babe Ruth Called Shot Bobblehead: Why Not "Root" For the Home Team?

The Chicago Cubs continue their decade-themed homestands with the 1930s this weekend. The first 10,000 fans in attendance at today’s game will receive a limited edition Babe Ruth Called Shot Bobblehead. As you can see in the picture above, the famous slugger is wearing a Yankees road uniform and pointing off into the distance. This, of course, is referencing Babe Ruth’s “called shot” in the 1932 World Series.

I’m not here to debate the validity of Ruth calling his shot. I wasn’t there, and countless people much smarter than myself have already beaten that question to death over the past few decades. It may seem kind of odd, what with the Cubs giving out a bobblehead of an opponent who swept them out of the World Series. Yet Ruth and his home run are one of the great pieces of baseball history, even if the Cubs were on the losing side of it. Teams have given away bobbleheads of their opponents’ historical moments before: just look at this super-cool, flag-saving Rick Monday bobble that the Los Angeles Dodgers gave away last year.

Twitter friend Stan Crousett (#FF!) has a nice take on the did-he-or-didn’t-he-call-it debate:

“I choose to believe that Ruth called his shot because baseball needs to preserve that legend,” Stan tweeted. “Disproving it does nothing but detract some of that magical allure from the game.”

That being said, this entire 1930s homestand seems to be ignoring – and possibly offending – the longest-tenured Cub pitcher of all time: right-hander Charlie Root.

There were a handful of great batters who played at Wrigley Field during the 1930s, but one constant on the pitching staff was Charlie Root. Let’s take a moment to highlight some of Root’s career accolades:

  • Charlie Root is the all-time Wins leader for the Cubs with 201 and accumulated those back when wins were a better judgement of performance than they are today.
  • Root led the Cubs in wins in 1926 (19), 1931 (17), and 1927, when he won 26 games, the most in Major League Baseball. Additionally, Root has the most wins out of any Cubs pitcher in the 1930s with 114.
  • In 1926, Root won the Cubs ERA title with a 2.82 mark.
  • Root accumulated the most strikeouts of any Cubs pitcher in 1926 (127), 1927 (145), and 1931 (131).
  • Root pitched in more games than any Cub (605), had five years of the most games started,  four years of the most innings pitched, and three years of the most complete games.
  • Root played in four different World Series with the Cubs and made five Opening Day starts (tied for third all-time amongst Cubs pitchers).
  • In addition to wins and games pitched, Root is also the Cubs all-time leader in innings pitched (3,137.1), and years of service (16).

Charlie Root certainly wasn’t the best or most dominant Cubs pitcher of all time – his career ERA hovers at a respectable, but not mind-blowing, 3.59. But his tenure cannot be ignored, especially when talking about the 1930s.

When reading the press release detailing all of the fun happenings of this homestand, Root is only mentioned as the guy who gave up the homer to the Babe. The Cubs are inviting a handful of interesting folks with connections to Wrigley Field’s history this weekend, including a representative from the architectural firm that designed the bleachers and scoreboard, and Babe Ruth’s 97-year-old daughter. But no descendants of Root are on the guest list.

Charlie Root’s daughter, Della Root Arnold, passed away in 2012. I’m not sure if there are any children or grandchildren of Root left or how far down that family tree goes, but it would be cool to see his lineage included in the ceremonies somehow. Maybe the Cubs even reached out to the Root family, they declined, and we just never heard about it.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if an invitation was rejected. I get the sense that the Root family isn’t too keen on how Charlie’s legacy is remembered. The following is a rather humorous (and enlightening) passage from “Root for the Cubs,” a book written about Charlie Root and the 1929 Chicago Cubs conveying many stories and firsthand accounts from his daughter Della. (It’s a good book and a pretty easy read; pick it up if you have a few extra bucks.)

Root wasn’t haunted by the “called shot” legend, but several incidents indicated how he felt about it, even when it involved his own family and a “friendly” wiffle ball game.

The first incident occurred in Milwaukee in the 1950s. Warren Spahn mocked Root by pointing to center field while Root was pitching batting practice. Root stunned everyone by sizzling a fast ball right at their top star’s head. No Brave was brave enough to mock Root again.

In 1961, during a Cub tryout, a young player did the same thing while instructor Root was pitching spring training batting practice.

Root knocked the kid flat with the first pitch and then unloaded all of the balls in his pockets to keep him pinned on his back in the dirt at home plate.

“OK, he didn’t point,” the kid yelled so he could get back up.

During a family outing, Charlie Junior’s wife defiantly pointed her wiffle ball bat toward center. Root hissed the wiffle ball right at his daughter-in-law, hitting her neck.

“Root for the Cubs” by Roger Snell, page 245.

So yeah, I’m not too sure how excited Charlie Root would be to see that the “called shot” is being celebrated in bobblehead form today.

Don’t get me wrong, the bobble is pretty cool and I’m a bit jealous I won’t be picking one up. But as we celebrate the 1930s and honor Babe Ruth’s legacy, let’s not forget an important Cubs icon from that decade: the winningest Cubs pitcher of all time, Charlie Root.


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  • Apparently Root couldn't take a joke. Imagine how he would react to the Cubs today.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Maybe that attitude is why he won 201 games for the. Cubs.

  • I mentioned the Cubs celebrating defeat by, among other things, the Ruth bobblehead, elsewhere in the blog. Barry Rosner brought up today the point I made earlier that the 100 year "celebration" should be over.

    However, your post brings up another interesting point that anyone between Evers-Tinker-Chance to Banks-Williams-Santo is essentially forgotten. Strange that the first considered worthy enough to have their numbers retired played in the 1960s.

  • Again, last year your team celebrated not making the World Series in 1983 with a year full of Sunday throwbacks. Those throwbacks are now your team's alternate jersey. So every time the pitcher selects that jersey to wear, he's celebrating a team not making the World Series, or in other words he's celebrating defeat by the Orioles in the 1983 ALCS. And every time a fan puts on that hat with 1983 sewn on the back, he or she is celebrating defeat. So get off your high horse.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    I thought you said this was not a Sox blog. Or at least your sock puppet did.

    Are the Sox giving out Dodgers bobbleheads to commemorate 1959?

    Have you justified this promotion on the Cubs' behalf? You didn't answer my question about being a fly on the wall at the marketing department meeting.

    If we believe your theory, shouldn't the Cubs be giving out Baez bobbleheads?

  • In reply to jack:

    It's not, but you're still here trolling around even though you're not a Cubs fan. You kind of seem like a turd. The Cubs are celebrating a ballpark, where a lot of things happened. The Bears played there for 50 some years so they're giving away a Sayers bobblehead. Red Grange played there, the All American Girls played there, Jack Brickhouse broadcast there. They are celebrating a building, so they are celebrating all the things that happened there. I don't know why you care so much about promotions. Why do the White Sox do dog night? Why do both teams do Star Wars night? What does that have to do with baseball?

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Why do you delight in violating terms of service by using gutter language against me? Where did you learn manners?

    Since you can't explain why the Cubs are giving out Ruth bobbleheads rather than Baez ones (since you say this is only about the future), you and your series of questions are irrelefvant.

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    In reply to jack:

    Girls, girls, you're both pretty! Listen, guys, I think I can speak for the rest of the CI team that we enjoy having you as both readers and commenters, but when those comments devolve into name-calling and attacking one another over comments from another post entirely, it really takes away from the experience.

    While we want people to feel free to express their opinions about a post or some of the inherent topics related to it, we don't want it to turn into some kind of verbal pillow fight that serves no purpose other than galvanize your own feelings of disdain for one another.

    Personally, I think this is all very fun and I get a kick out of it. But then I realize that not all share my sense of humor (as clearly evidenced in some of the comments on my own posts). Again, please keep reading, please keep commenting; but if you could perhaps retract your claws for a while, that would be nice too. Thanks.

  • In reply to jack:

    Is violating terms of service what got you banned at Cubs Den?

    What is there to justify to a Sox fan who's trolling a Cubs blog? But I'll give it another shot since you didn't read what I wrote. The Cubs are celebrating the history of their stadium, meaning the past. Ergo a Baez bobblehead doesn't really make much sense. I assume in two years they will be giving away bobbleheads featuring Cubs players through the 100 years of them being in the park. This year they're celebrating the events that have occurred in the park. Some of them are Cubs related, some aren't. I assume part of the reason they are highlighting the other events in the park is to show that it has a history beyond the Cubs, perhaps to justify why it needs to be renovated and maintained?

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    Thanks, Justin, for mentioning my biography of Charlie Root. The Roots had a great sense of humor. One of the family members had a license plate for years that simply said, "Babe Who."

    I cannot imagine why the Cubs would play into the legend of another team when they should honor a history when they actually were in the World Series like 1929 and 1932. That was the greatest Cub era of all when you consider an offense that included Hack Wilson and Rogers Hornsby.

    William Wrigley Jr. tried so hard to build a championship team, making moves to get the best. His payroll exceeded that of the Yankees and any other team during the era.

    Charlie pitched 3,100 innings plus, as you noted. That conservatively means he threw 31,000 pitches for the Cubs -- and they are choosing to mock one pitch with this promotion.

    I wonder if the Cubs bring the curse on themselves -- not a goat, not a fan catching a foul ball, etc.

  • In reply to Roger Snell:

    Maybe they plan on honoring Root and other Cubs in 2016 and were using this year to focus on some of the other events that happened at Wrigley?

  • In reply to Roger Snell:

    Thank you, Roger! As Charlie Root's granddaughter and a life-long Cubs fan, I thought that the Babe Ruth Called Shot Bobblehead giveaway was ludicrous. Aren't we celebrating the Cubs with this centennial celebration of Wrigley field?

    And to justinjabs, thank you for recognizing Grandpa's contribution to the Cubs and baseball. As you can read in Roger Snell's book, one of the last things Grandpa said to my aunt, Della Arnold, was, "I gave my life to baseball, and I'm going to be remembered for something that never happened.

    And Roger, I still have the BABEWHO license plate. Go Cubs!

  • In reply to Babewho:

    Wow, thanks for reading and sharing here. Very cool.

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    In reply to Babewho:

    That's really great stuff, and probably the coolest license plate around.

  • In reply to Babewho:

    Indeed, thanks Roger & company for stopping by.

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    "Warren Spahn mocked Root by pointing to center field while Root was pitching batting practice. Root stunned everyone by sizzling a fast ball right at their top star's head."

    Proof enough that Ruth didn't call his shot. If he would do that to Warren Spahn in an exhibition game why wouldn't he have done it to Ruth in a World Series game?

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    During a family whiffle ball game, my mom jokingly pointed while Grandpa was pitching. He put the next one under her chin. Yep, he had that kind of control, even with a whiffle ball.

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    They didn't call me to throw out the first pitch, and your right, we probably wouldn't do it, unless Babe's granddaughter stood in the box and I dusted her just like my grandpa would have if Babe would have pointed.

  • In reply to Charley Root:

    No one in the family was contacted, and we're not hard to find. And my brother isn't kidding about knocking me on my keester, in spite of what he says below. :-)

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    In reply to Babewho:

    HEY- IS THERE ANY FAMILY? I AM CHARLIES GREAT GREAT NIECE. BY BLOOD. MY GRANDFATHER-HIS NEPHEW WAS IN WWII, Just pasted 6-7 years ago. I have 2 daughters- No this is a parody name-SO HIS DNA IS STILL HERE-And I am in Florida. Family is in Middletown, Ohio and towns next to it still.

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    Hope you know I'm joking.

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