Babe Ruth with the Negro Leagues
My conversation with "Double Duty" Radcliffe in 1995
My husband Andy and I are asked a lot of questions about my grandfather. Sometimes I have the answers, sometimes I don't. One of them was my grandfather stoppe I said I did not know. Did he know he was being used? Again we were not sure, but thought he must have known. Two months later at the Hall of Fame inductions, there were so many attending because it was the year Schmidt and Ashburn went in. There were red caps as far as you could see! They had to close down Main Street so people could walk in town. Someone asked if I would like to meet the oldest living ballplayer and of course I would not want to miss that chance! There in front of me was Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, a negro leaguer. He was there, with his editor, selling his book about his life. In a gruff voice, he asked "who are you?" Intimidated I answered in a low voice "Babe Ruth's granddaughter". He said "sit down here, I have got to talk to you." I sat. The woman editor inturrupted and he yelled "be quiet, I got to talk to her." (Note to self, don't dare interrupt him.)
"Your granddaddy and I were good friends. A lot of people used him, he knew it and did it anyway. He was a good man. He loved playing with us and wanted us to be part of the big leagues. They tried to shut him up about that but he wouldn't be shut up. He come to my games whenever he could. He's bring two blonds, one for me and one for him." Fearing we were getting into a realm I did not want, I said "it was so nice to meet you." the only words I spoke to him. He reached over and said if I was 20 years younger I'd sure go for you!" Then he patted me on the knee. He was 97.
When I went to a Pop Lloyd Negro League event in Atlantic City, I told them about 'Double Duty,' even the pat on the knee. The players all stepped back and believed I had talked to 'Double Duty' because patting me on the knee and flirting was something he always did to women.
I wish I had not gotten nervous and we could have talked more. After that I could not get to him again. His neice who cared for him did not allow it.
That day I had been given a great gift. No one knew about Babe and the Negro League. So I would tell people when I gave talks but it takes a long time mouth to mouth.
Bruce Orser has come up with a few articles. I wish I had more photos from then. I know they are in people's attics! If you come across my grandfather with the Negro Leagues, I ask, please sent me a copy to put on this site and the story to go with it?
I am understanding that all the new pitches were coming out of the negro leagues and they challenged my grandfather. They were also his friends and he visited their homes and schools. In the Southern towns the only reason that he got to play with them and come home unharmed was because he was Babe Ruth. Babe stood up for what was right. In fact I think the reason he did not becaome a manager in 1934 is because he was going to work on putting a player of color on the team. Landis could not allow this as there was a "gentlemen's agreement" that you did not play with the Negro Leagues. It is written in Happy Chandler's Memoirs. My grandfather was not to be stopped. He even sat out a long suspension because he would not barnstorming with them.