These infamous Chicago Cubs mysteries may never be solved

(Photo Reproduction by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
(Photo Reproduction by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images) /
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Babe Ruth / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: One of baseball’s greatest tales might only be partially true

Game 3 of the 1932 World Series lives in baseball lore because of what Babe Ruth did…or at least might have sort of done. The top of the fifth inning between the Cubs and Yankees at Wrigley Field was a wild one. With the Yankees clinging to a 4-3 lead, Ruth came up to the plate having already homered in the game with one out and nobody on.

The 50,000 crammed into Wrigley loudly threw boos and a variety of insults towards The Sultan of Swat as did Cubs players in the dugout and on the field. Cubs pitcher Charlie Root had two strikes on Ruth and the jawing grew even louder. Ruth was counting the strikes on him holding his fingers up. What happened on the two-strike pitch is the stuff of legends – and possibly myth.

According to the popular tale, Ruth gestured toward the center field flagpole with his right arm and two fingers pointing in that direction as a way to indicate where he was about to hit the next pitch. On the very next pitch, he blasted an estimated nearly 500 foot home run to the right-center bleachers.

We know for a fact that Ruth obviously hit that home run after the crowd and Cubs players jawed at him. But did he gesture toward the bleachers beforehand?

The “Called Shot” story was read by people in newspapers and immediately became accepted as fact by many. There was no television broadcast and few photos and reels of that at bat and him rounding the bases with a smile on his face as he waved away the jawing Cubs players. Accounts from that game seemed to indicate there was indeed a gesture by Ruth before that home run, but the question was is if it was toward the outfield, or it was jawing at either Root on the mound or the Cubs dugout.

Root always maintained that Ruth never pointed to center field, and that he would have beaned him if he did. Others maintained that he did call his shot, including teammate Lou Gehrig and his daughter Julia Ruth Stevens.

Decades later a 16 mm film by Matt Miller Kandle, an amateur filmmaker who shot Ruth’s at bat from the Wrigley Field grandstands surfaced. The footage shows Ruth gesturing and jawing and eventually swinging and homering. While it is not HD footage by any means, the angle seems to show Ruth gesturing toward the Cubs players and not necessarily the outfield seats. He even looks to be facing the Cubs dugout when he makes his gesture with his arm. This could be the closest thing we get to an answer on whether or not his gesture was to center or not.

Regardless, this story is one of baseball’s most legendary and it always will be.