You could say that Dizzy Dean kicked Babe Ruth when he was down. Denied a managerial opportunity in New York, the 40-year-old Bambino had left the Yankees with his tail between his legs to go play for the lowly Boston Braves—where he could at least try to hold his head up as assistant manager to Bill McKechnie. It was the rock bottom of Ruth's career, and only one man felt more indignant about the circumstances than Babe himself: Dizzy Dean. At 25, Dean was riding high after a 30-win season capped off by MVP honors and a world championship. Adding insult to injury, Ol' Diz proclaimed, "He made all his money in the American League, so why doesn't he stay there?...Baseball has been good to Ruth. He's made enough money. Why come over to the National League and knock a fellow like McKechnie out of a job?...I resent Ruth coming to the National and I think practically every player in the league will feel the same way about it. You can bank on this—Ruth will take plenty of razzing from the players and there will be as many fans who will be 'on him' as well. For one, I am going to 'pan' him every time I see him in a National League park."
And so it was that at spring training on March 20th, all eyes were on St. Petersburg's Waterfront Park as Ruth went to bat against Dean—mano a mano—for the first time ever. The historic encounter did not disappoint. Ruth rose to the challenge with a dramatic 400-foot fly out that made news across the nation. As the Boston Globe recounted, "Following an ear cracking ovation when he stepped to the plate against the gangling, grinning meteor of the 1934 baseball season, Babe watched an inside ball, then an outside one and then whoops—he cocked a towering smash with all the power of his hey-day toward right center…In practically every major league ball park, the clout would have been a home run."
Just 10 days after "Babe vs. Dizzy," Ruth references the rivalry in this extraordinary signed letter. Never before have we come across a Ruth TLS on any official Braves stationery—let alone an example that explicitly lists him in the executive letterhead as "Assistant Manager." After all, Babe's Boston return only lasted a little over 3 months from his signing on February 26th to his retirement on June 2nd, leaving but a very small time window for such correspondence, especially once the season got underway. Of note as well, the recipient is popular politician Roy Green, who served as Boston City Council committee clerk for over 30 years and earned the nickname "Mayor of City Hall Avenue." (Green's brother Thomas was Massachusetts Civil Service director.) Ruth writes, "I want to thank you for your recent letter which I enjoyed very much. I particularly was amused at the enclosed copy of the letter which you sent to Dizzy Dean and got a great laugh out of the same. We are all looking forward to our return to Boston soon and show the fans that we have a real team for the coming season of 1935. Wishing to be remembered to your brother Tom as well as yourself, I beg to remain, Sincerely yours, Babe Ruth."
Measuring 8-1/2 x 11", the sheet features boldly printed text and imagery, with an elegant color design of the Braves logo against a Braves Field backdrop. There is routine general creasing and toning, mainly peripheral, along with minor splits at the four edges of the two horizontal mailing folds. Ruth's dark, well-executed script rates "7-8" strength. Full LOA from JSA. Two pertinent images—one of Ruth's mighty cut against Dean in St. Petersburg; the other of the reconciled pair prior to a regular-season contest—are shown for reference purposes in our catalog and on our website. More info about Roy Green (in whose family this letter has remained for the past 8 decades) is also on our website.
A fascinating character in Boston history, Robert E. (Roy) Green first made his name as a boxing promoter in the late 1910s, most notably for welterweight Tommy "Kloby" Corcoran. At the time, Green ran in the same circles as Red Sox star Ruth, who himself had aspirations of pugilism and actually asked Green about scheduling a bout with light heavyweight champion Battling Levinsky. "Levinsky would slaughter you," Roy replied. "He might even make you good looking." Green soon ventured out on his long, distinguished political career with the Boston City Council, establishing close friendships with the likes of Mayor Curley, President Truman, Jimmy Durante and Pat O'Brien. Roy and his equally prominent brother, then-City Councilor Thomas Green, welcomed back their old pal Babe upon his return to Boston in 1935 and remained in touch. The Greens were also instrumental in bringing lights to Fenway Park for night games. A 1969 Boston Evening Globe article, published shortly before Roy Green's death, quoted his vivid memories of attending the inaugural 1903 World Series and witnessing Cobb's first HR in Boston.