There are many tales of success surrounding Warren’s past. Some are “wishful thinking.” In the case of Babe Ruth playing in an exhibition game here: IT’S FACT NOT FICTION!
The Bambino actually did play one game in Warren. He even played his original position for one inning. He pitched!
The story of his arrival is chock full of controversy. There was a rule that none of the participants in the World Series were permitted to “barnstorm.” Ruth along with several notable New York Yankees disputed the rule. Ruth and Bob Meusel formed a team of players at the end of the 1921 season. The Yanks had lost their first World Series to the National League Giants. Yankee Stadium didn’t exist yet. Hilltop Park, the Highlanders’ (later renamed Yankees) ballpark had been condemned so the Yanks were playing in the Polo Grounds.
Ruth put his popularity up against Judge Mountain Landis and began the 17-game tour in mid-October of 1921. The schedule was set up to put the MLB players in front of small towns. The tour worked its way to Buffalo, then to Jamestown. The barnstormers rolled into Jamestown on Oct. 18 and defeated a group of Jamestown’s best. Ruth reportedly clubbed a pair of round-trippers. One of them made it all the way to Chautauqua Lake. That leads me to believe they played the game near or within the confines of Celoron Park. More than likely in the area where a pavilion stands today.
A half-hour train ride the next day put Ruth’s crew in Warren. The train station was a brisk walk to a hotel. Fans were led to believe the travelers were going to the Carver House. They didn’t go there, opting to go directly to the field and back to Jamestown. The newspaper reports had the game at “the High School Field.” I am not sure where that was. At one time there was a stadium in the flats on the East Side. The gate and steps down to where seating must have been, are still there. I have always thought the War Memorial Field came after World War II. Either way, since there was no room for a field at the high school, it had to be someplace else.
The Babe’s game was a 1 p.m. affair. The Warren Independents put up a credible fight. Warren’s defense was definitely on par with Major League play. The Babe’s homer was the difference. The Independents lost the contest 5-3. As the schedule was tight, the Ruthians caught the train back to Jamestown without any fanfare. But the legend about Babe Ruth playing in Warren is true!
Editor’s note: More on Ruth’s 1921 tour can be found here.