Julia Ruth Stevens died last night. She was 102 years old and was a very nice lady. Like her father, she loved kids. Like her father, she loved Baseball. Like her father she became an Ambassador to the game of Baseball. That’s because her father was the great George Herman (Babe) Ruth. Arguably the greatest player of all time.
I first met Julia with her mother Claire at Shea Stadium when the Yankees were playing there because they were renovating Yankee Stadium in 1974. It scares me to think that she was only 57 years old then.
I found her to be a very personable lady. A very nice person and through the years she would only get more and more friendlier with the people that would come around her. She always had great stories about her fabled father. Her heart always seemed full of love in how she depicted him. She was the perfect person to translate who her father really was. She had great pride in her favorite Yankee!
For me personally she was a sweetheart, as are all of the Babe’s surviving family members. I once told her about how much I loved George Steinbrenner, our great owner and she jokingly said I can understand why, look at his first name. A couple of years ago I asked her if she would come to Huggins Stengel Field in St Petersburg because my friend Shawn Drouin runs the largest teen educational program in Tampa Bay. Shawn thought that it would be a great idea to have her address the local kids that were in the program and the players from St Petersburg High School.
The reason that it was a great idea was because the Babe used to come to Spring training here every year with the Yankees. From 1930 until the Babe retired, Julia use to come with her Mom and Dad. She was very familiar with the field and said that it had not changed much. It’s incredible that Babe Ruth has not played since 1935 but these kids all knew who he was. They also made Julia feel like a million bucks. They asked her so many questions that I was afraid that she was going to get too tired. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Even though she was in a wheelchair, her energy level both mentally and physically was incredible.
The thing that I loved the most about Julia was that, like me, we were both adopted by wonderful men that accepted us as their own. My mom Jenny married a really wonderful man named Cirillo, who accepted me as his own and Julia was always so happy and proud to say that she thought she was the Babe’s greatest home run. I would have to agree with her.
A special thank you to Howard Grosswirth for giving me a beautiful replica Yankee World Championship ring that I was able to give Julia. She was so very happy to receive it. She took pictures with all the kids wearing it.