Recalling a visit to BRWS by Babe Ruth’s daughter
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article first saw the light of day exactly 43 years ago today when former Post-Journal sports editor Frank Hyde interviewed Dorothy Pirone — Babe Ruth’s daughter — when she appeared in Jamestown, N.Y. for the Babe Ruth 13-year-old World Series in August 1980. With the 2023 Babe Ruth 13-15 World Series set to begin Saturday in the city, it was deemed appropriate to run the story again.
JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — Dorothy Pirone’s eyes lit up as she told the story.
“I rode in it when I was a baby,” she explained with enthusiasm.
Dorothy Ruth Pirone is the daughter of Babe Ruth, onetime great baseball slugger and colorful character, and the “it” she rode in is a Pierce Arrow, 1923 vintage, owned by Jamestown’s Les Ostrander. It was once owned by Babe Ruth.
Ostrander drove Dorothy to Jamestown Community College where she was scheduled to make a brief talk.
“I was so excited over riding in the car I forgot my talk,” she laughed, “but I finally got through it.”
Babe Ruth, a mighty name for more than two decades in Major League Baseball and even more magical today, 32 years after his death, “was held in no particular awe by me and my mother,” Mrs. Pirone said.
“He was just a father, a fine, loving man, a great athlete, so great his accomplishments that made him known all over the world were more or less taken for granted by us,” she explained.
Mrs. Pirone, accompanied by her husband, Dominick, and (Babe Ruth League representative) Wanda Rutledge, are in Jamestown for the first-ever 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series opening Saturday at College Stadium.
“Kids are kids, you know how it is,” she added. “I, of course, took passive interest in his accomplishments and accepted it as part of his work.”
This is Mrs. Pirone’s third year in the Babe Ruth tournament “circuit.” She and Dominick had a family to raise — four girls and two boys at their home in Durham, Connecticut.
“We have just married off the last one so now I can devote more time to Babe Ruth Baseball, to help uphold the great tradition my father’s name implies,” Mrs. Pirone said. “And how could anyone refuse, especially in knowing my father’s love for youngsters and realizing the tremendous scope of Babe Ruth Baseball.”
She mentioned The Bambino staying an hour and a half after a game many times signing autographs for the kids.
“But despite the devotion of the average youngsters, Dominick and I tried to raise our children to not use the fact, ‘My grandfather was Babe Ruth,’ as a crutch or an excuse to gain special favors. We taught them to work.”
How well the family lived up to that creed was illustrated by Dominick.
“When I met her through friends I didn’t know who she was,” he laughed. “The name, Dorothy Ruth, did not register at all. I found out some time later who I was going with.”
Dorothy and Dominick were married in 1945, a decade after Babe Ruth played his last game, then with the Boston Braves, and three years before he died.
The Pirones operate an auto salvage firm in Durham. A son (Richard) is handling the business while they are away.
“We go together,” Mrs. Pirone explained. “I always tell those requesting my presence that my husband must accompany me or it is no go.”
Today, Dorothy treasures the numerous Babe Ruth memorabilia she had collected.
“I am old enough now to realize what they mean and how great he was.”
She says one of her prized possessions is the Babe’s grand piano.
“He did not play, Dorothy said, “but his friends did and father sang along.”
Dorothy is also rightfully proud of a huge urn and a giant poster presented him when he toured Japan.
“They have been included in the Smithsonian Institute Treasure Tour for 1981,” she said.
She also has a large plaque bordered by 60 baseballs, symbols of his record homers in 1927. Ruth’s name, too, has been included in the Franklin Mint Display of 100 outstanding men for lifetime achievements in all things, including sports.
It is easy to recognize the fact Dorothy is proud as punch over Babe Ruth’s achievements today despite the fact she took them in stride when she was a child.
Dominick explained Dorothy is a fisherwoman — a deep-sea fisherwoman, and both are horse lovers.
During their Jamestown trip they have visited the Maple Grove Arabian Farm where they were shown around by owners Mr. and Mrs. James Bloomquist. Mrs. Pirone talked of purchasing a horse to replace one they lost recently, but no decision has been made yet.
“We have 20 acres of land now stocked with several horses and we plan to construct a three-eighths mile training track for harness horses.”