The Voice of Babe Ruth
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Evans's first job had been as a sportswriter, and eventually, he took to writing articles in addition to working as an umpire. His work – notably absent of the mannered, highly ornamented phrasing of the time – was published in the Sporting News and Collier’s, and he soon became sports editor for the syndication service Newspaper Enterprise Association. There he wrote a column called “Billy Evans Says” that was carried by over 100 newspapers. Evans often said that one of the keys being a good umpire was the "ability to study human nature and apply the findings" – a skill also apparent in his writing.
In a “Billy Evans Says” column, published in late November 1922, Evans gives an answer to a question he had been asked many times: “What kind of fellow is Babe Ruth?” He begins by puncturing any perception that Ruth “feels his greatness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ruth is a big likeable kid.” He adds that “Success on the ball field has in no way changed him. Everybody likes him. You just can’t help it.” Then Evans tells a story.
About 10 minutes before a Yankees game at the Polo Grounds in the summer of 1922, Evans came onto the field and stood near the Yankees dugout when a “youngster about 12 came through one of the exit gates nearby and said, ‘Mr. Evans, would you object to my taking a picture of Babe Ruth?’”
Evans sized up the child, a clean-cut boy holding a “very expensive” Kodak camera. Evans had no objections, but he told the boy that he really ought to ask Ruth himself. Evans describes how the scene unfolds:
Larry Brunt is the Museum’s digital strategy intern in the Class of 2016 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development