Rushing the field to help your favorite team celebrate a pennant or championship used to be as de rigueur as the spraying of sideline reporters with Champagne. Such abandon has clearly gone out of vogue, as demonstrated by the ring of police officers who lined the turf at Fenway Park after the Red Sox capped their American League Championship Series comeback against the Indians on Sunday.
Walter Cyr remembers when things were different.
On September 24, 1933, an eight-year-old Walter, determined to meet the mighty Babe Ruth, slipped over Fenway’s centerfield wall as the Yankees took the field in the sixth inning. “And don’t stop for nothing!” his father encouraged, as a front-page story in the Boston Post recounted the next day.
He ran as fast as his little legs would carry him, to the disbelief of the 7000 fans on hand. “Would yuh sign this for me, Babe,” asked Cyr with his notebook extended. Since the lad had lost his pencil while dropping to the field, Ruth had him sit out the inning on the Yankees’ bullpen bench (an ump sent ace Charlie “Red” Ruffing to join him).
Ruth — who, of course, had formerly played for the Red Sox (and the Providence Grays) — gave Cyr an autographed baseball and posed for a photo that ran with the Post’s story. “The kid’s persistency had made a great hit with the Bam,” wrote reporter Jack Malaney. “He has had all sorts of request from little fellows, but never before one exactly like this.” (The Sox went on to win, 10-8.)
Cyr, now 83 and residing in Walpole, Massachusetts, has experienced some other dramatic moments.
He floated for nine hours in the mid-Atlantic after a German U-boat torpedoed his ship upon which he served, the Block Island, the week before D-Day (it was the only US aircraft carrier sunk in the European theater).
Yet Cyr attracted more attention for his Fenway gambit, which took place when his father took him to the game as a birthday present.
The eight-year-old had it in mind to meet the “the Behemoth of bust,” as Malaney wrote in his Runyon-esque tones, because the young man considered him “just about the acme of perfection.”
The signed ball now resides in Maine, with Cyr’s nephew.
A lifelong Sox fan, Cyr’s current favorite player is ALCS MVP Josh Beckett, and he cites Bobby Doerr (1937-51) and Dale “Moose” Alexander (1932-33) as past favorites.
Those who left him unimpressed? Carl Yastrzemski and other unidentified “heavy hitters” of that era, who, Cyr says, “could do anything they wanted” because they were “pals with [owner] Tom Yawkey’s wife.”
“To bunt was below them,” says Walter. “But if the coach says, ‘Bunt,’ you bunt!”
His prediction for 2007?
“I’m hoping they go all the way.”
: This Just In
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