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Monday, December 12, 2011

Letters of Note: From your friend “Babe” Ruth

Sammy Byrd got a similar letter.

BABE RUTH
NEW YORK

Jan 15 - 1932

Hello Fred

I have received some very nice reports about you and the nice way you are getting along. Now I want you to keep it up and it will not be long before you will be and running around.

You are only eight years now and who knows that some day the umpire will say Freddy Clark Jr. now batting for Babe Ruth — say Freddy? Will that be great or not. Now I want you to keep your fight and think of me.

From your friend “Babe” Ruth

The District Attorney Posted: December 12, 2011 at 06:54 PM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, hall of fame, history, memorabilia, red sox, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Justin T steals bases with his bat Posted: December 12, 2011 at 09:47 PM (#4014387)
P.S. Say hi to your mother for me.
   2. salvomania Posted: December 12, 2011 at 09:57 PM (#4014402)
From reports I've seen recently, most youngs aren't able to read cursive, let alone write it.

It's like our equivalent of T3XT.
   3. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 09:59 PM (#4014406)
Please tell me this didn't come from the Barry Halper collection...
   4. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:02 PM (#4014411)
From reports I've seen recently, most youngs aren't able to read cursive, let alone write it.

Fine by me. I hated learning it, I hated writing it, and I hate reading it. I haven't written in cursive (aside from my signature) in at least 25 years, possibly longer.

With very, very few exceptions it's an illegible abomination. When I'm emperor, I'll sweep away the last remnants of this horror.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:11 PM (#4014418)
With very, very few exceptions it's an illegible abomination.

Sister Theresa is going to rap your knuckles with a yardstick
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:11 PM (#4014419)
??? Is anyone having trouble reading Ruth's handwriting? Seems clear as day to me, the occasional misspelling ("arr") aside.
   7. zonk Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:12 PM (#4014421)
Fine by me. I hated learning it, I hated writing it, and I hate reading it. I haven't written in cursive (aside from my signature) in at least 25 years, possibly longer.


Amen, brother.

'Cursive' was the most frustrating part of my elementary school education... I was forever chasing an all 'A's' report card and forever falling up short due to a C or D in 'handwriting' - how nonsensical that this was even a class. I remember once getting up to a B- (only after doing a lot of "extra credit", which was essentially a lot of pointless copying of text) and remarking quite tartly "Why does this even matter? In 10 years - we'll be typing on computers anyway." This was met with a great deal of lecture and hector by my 4th grade teacher.

Well, Ms. Wells, you @$#@!#@! spinster -- who's woefully unaware of how the world works NOW?

I think I just might have to google her to see if she's still around so I can send her a nice virus or something... after all, her archaic skills should be well-suited to a world without keyboards.
   8. phredbird Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:21 PM (#4014432)
having to learn cursive is hell for left-handers. you smudge the page as you go along, so we tend to adapt with a weird grip on the pen/pencil that curls around the line on the page.
   9. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:23 PM (#4014434)
I was forever chasing an all 'A's' report card and forever falling up short due to a C or D in 'handwriting' - how nonsensical that this was even a class.


I was just reading something about how important penmanship is in China - writing sloppily there is like showing up to a meeting wearing pajamas covered in Doritos crumbs. You just look like an ass. I knew that painting beautiful characters was a kind of thing there, and of course their character are much more fertile ground for that sort of thing than our letters, but I didn't realize the degree to which the importance of attractive writing penetrated the average person's sense of propriety.
   10. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:32 PM (#4014442)
That's a swell letter from the Babe.
   11. zonk Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:34 PM (#4014445)
I was just reading something about how important penmanship is in China - writing sloppily there is like showing up to a meeting wearing pajamas covered in Doritos crumbs.


Why does this even matter? In 10 years - we'll be sending our avatars to meetings anyway.
   12. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:43 PM (#4014453)
I hated learning to write in cursive. Were I less lazy, I'd link to reports showing that cursive is correlated to better test scores or higher iq or some such business.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:52 PM (#4014463)
I think the "arr" is actually "are," with the (capital-ish) E curved like a backwards 3 that just happens to look a lot like his lowercase r. However, the mystery of what the kid will be doing in addition to running around may never be solved.
   14. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 12, 2011 at 10:57 PM (#4014469)
All this triumphalism about the death of cursive reminds me of people who laugh at the idea of paying for music and books. Can you not imagine that there's something lost there?

Personally I write in cursive 2-3 times as fast as I write when printing. That seems like an advantage to me. I don't care about legibility most of the time, and my cursive and print are equally illegible anyway.
   15. McCoy Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:00 PM (#4014471)
I hated cursive as well and to this day if I ever I feel the need to write in it I'll occasionally find myself trying to recall how to draw a letter or two. Everyone has different penmanship and thus every page of cursive is its own code that has to be deciphered. Instead all of the words flowing into a sentence it becomes a disjointed mess of words. I don't know if it was because I switched school systems or what but after I was taught cursive we promptly never had to use it again.
   16.     Hey Gurl Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:08 PM (#4014476)

??? Is anyone having trouble reading Ruth's handwriting? Seems clear as day to me, the occasional misspelling ("arr") aside.


It's not a misspelling -- his e's are the same as his r's. Look at "nice."

And yes, it took me a tremendous amount of effort to read it.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:10 PM (#4014484)
Shock, you owe me a Coke. And it also should be noted that Ruth was a Red Sox, a Yankee and a Brave, but never a Pirate.

Thank you, tip your bartenders well.
   18.     Hey Gurl Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:11 PM (#4014486)

Personally I write in cursive 2-3 times as fast as I write when printing.


And I can type about 2-3 times faster than that...so what?
   19. Al Kaline Trio Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:11 PM (#4014487)
Babe Ruth was a pirate??? Arrr!
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:13 PM (#4014488)
AlKaline, I'll take your Coke when I'm finished with the one from Shock.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:15 PM (#4014491)
Yeah, Billy & Shock, you're both right about that "arr". It's just that seeing the "r" that looks just like it right next to it threw me off with the power of suggestion.
   22. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:16 PM (#4014492)
I usually print as I find it neater than cursive, but I don't see cursive writing as some kind of bane on mankind. Would you say the same thing about typing classes? After all, in 10 years we'll be dictating our thoughts to a digital personal assistant or something.
   23. Lassus Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:22 PM (#4014496)
The main reason cursive is a bane to most is that people stopped caring how it looked. Done well, it's lovely.
   24. ray james Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:22 PM (#4014497)
Seems clear as day to me, the occasional misspelling ("arr") aside.


That't not a mispelling. He just wrote his R's and E's similarly sometimes. Now why he did that, I don't know.

FWIW, the Babe had very nice penmanship.
   25. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:30 PM (#4014503)
Anyone who complains about the legibility of the Babe's cursive has clearly never encountered Merovingian chancery script.
   26. Al Kaline Trio Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:30 PM (#4014505)
Billy you will grt a rum and cokr for your troublrs...
   27. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:38 PM (#4014510)
The main reason cursive is a bane to most is that people stopped caring how it looked. Done well, it's lovely.

Dunno when this (mythical?) caring period took place, but it certainly wasn't during my lifetime. I think I've seen two, maybe three real-life examples of really nice-looking cursive. Everything else is, at best, slightly more difficult to read than print.
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:41 PM (#4014512)
Why thank you. Somrthing Caribbran plrasr. And one from you, too, Ray. It's gonna be a good night.
   29. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:46 PM (#4014516)
I also hate cursive and find it hard to read.
   30. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:48 PM (#4014518)
I write in cursive every single day of my life. My job consists of writing reports, but before I start typing on my computer, I always write a "script" on paper with my fountain pen. Obviously, I do it for myself so I don't have to care what it looks like, but I just love it. I also spend a lot of time in archives going through documents that are WAY harder to read than Ruth's letter.
   31. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:49 PM (#4014519)
Anyone who complains about the legibility of the Babe's cursive has clearly never encountered Merovingian chancery script.


I call BS. This so called "chancery script" is a conspiracy by Otto III and Gerbert d'Aurillac.
   32. esseff Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:51 PM (#4014522)
More on Babe Ruth's letter to Fred Clark Jr here on Google Books. Scroll to Chapter 3.
   33.     Hey Gurl Posted: December 12, 2011 at 11:53 PM (#4014523)

I write in cursive every single day of my life. My job consists of writing reports, but before I start typing on my computer, I always write a "script" on paper with my fountain pen. Obviously, I do it for myself so I don't have to care what it looks like, but I just love it. I also spend a lot of time in archives going through documents that are WAY harder to read than Ruth's letter.


Aren't you in Quebec somewhere? I will say I liked writing in cursive a lot more when I wrote in French for whatever reason.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:04 AM (#4014531)
Anyone who complains about the legibility of the Babe's cursive has clearly never encountered Merovingian chancery script.

That's freaking awesome!
   35. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:21 AM (#4014552)
I don't want to hijack the greatest thread on cursive writing ever seen on BTF, but how cool is it that Babe Ruth took the time to write an encouraging note for a sick child? I'll answer that myself: pretty great.
   36. Lassus Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:21 AM (#4014553)
Dunno when this (mythical?) caring period took place, but it certainly wasn't during my lifetime.

Well, I won't disagree with this, certainly. I was thinking more 1872, probably.
   37. Good cripple hitter Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:29 AM (#4014559)
Anyone who complains about the legibility of the Babe's cursive has clearly never encountered Merovingian chancery script.

I call BS. This so called "chancery script" is a conspiracy by Otto III and Gerbert d'Aurillac.


I don't normally do this, but this deserves recognition and a Primey.

This letter is awesome, except for the Babe's backwards 3 'e's. Took me forever to realize that they weren't 'r's.
   38. McCoy Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:32 AM (#4014565)
Well, did he actually do it? Or is this like him writing a column for the daily newspaper?
   39. Morty Causa Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:33 AM (#4014566)
Of course, this is the Babe writing in code to his bootlegger. Pretty cleverly phrased, too.
   40. esseff Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:42 AM (#4014576)
"You are only eight years now and in 10 years you have a chance to be 18."
   41. Morty Causa Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:48 AM (#4014582)
I was going to snark some more, but I think I'll let it go. That is a nice, sweet letter. Simple and straightforward, yet without any false pity. Just the right touch of concern and encouragement. I'm not much on people, kids or adults, when it comes to autograph foraging like pigs going after truffles, but this is what celebrities can do best. A home run, babe. Way to go!
   42. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 13, 2011 at 12:56 AM (#4014593)
It's funny that even though I'm always lamenting the imminent decline of society for some reason or another, I don't have any strong feeling about cursive writing. If it lives, fine. If it dies, fine. Maybe that's because I'm an historian, and it takes way more time to decipher a cursive letter than a printed one. I'm pretty sure that's why it is. Grammar and spelling are important, but I don't care whether the writing itself is in cursive, printing, on a screen, carved into the wall of a cave, or written in the sky by the Wicked Witch of the West's airplane.
   43. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:05 AM (#4014666)
How long before the indie rock snobs hijack this with a roundtable on the relative merits of Cursive, the band?
   44. PreservedFish Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:24 AM (#4014691)
Well, I won't disagree with this, certainly. I was thinking more 1872, probably.


This topic has come up in the past, and Greg (UK) has testified that the handwriting of previous centuries is frequently terrible. I am sure that more people were trained and able to write beautifully than we have today, but it doesn't mean that chickenscratch was not widely used.
   45. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:28 AM (#4014694)
My experience is the same as zonk's. Mostly straight A's is elementary school but with C's or worse in handwriting. Seems pointless to me. But my kids are still learning it now even though they also have to take typing.
   46. base ball chick Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:58 AM (#4014725)
phredbird Posted: December 12, 2011 at 05:21 PM (#4014432)

having to learn cursive is hell for left-handers. you smudge the page as you go along, so we tend to adapt with a weird grip on the pen/pencil that curls around the line on the page.


- to put it mildly
especially since i write backwards anyhow

and like at LEAST 1 of 4 of us here at this here board are leftys, i'd bet
   47. stevegamer Posted: December 13, 2011 at 05:29 AM (#4014792)
Hated cursive & still do. In grade school I got grounded once for a month for a "C" in handwriting, my only grade under an "A". When people who had failed multiple subjects were out playing after a week's grounding, I got a reduced penalty because the other kids laughed at me being grounded when they knocked up at my door to come out & play. Only happened after some of my buddy's parents talked to my aunt in church to find out what I did that was so heinous to get grounded for a month, since she had said "bad grades" to the kids when they came to the door, and nobody believed her.
   48. bunyon Posted: December 13, 2011 at 02:34 PM (#4014932)
Lots of awesome in this thread. Starting with the letter and then the discussion.

Well done all.


I made A's in penmanship because I was a grade-obsessed little teacher's pet who worked at it like it was life and death. As soon as no one graded it, I got sloppy. My wife refused to believe I had made an A in penmanship until I found the report card in a bunch of junk my mom shipped me (why do you parents keep all that crap?). I can no longer write legible cursive and my printing is pretty poor. I type okay, despite an A in that as well (I do type a lot, I guess).

Even my signature sucks. It is different nearly every time, which I'm constantly afraid will have legal ramifications. Despite the middle initial 'B' I can not write a cursive B. It looks like I finish my first name, someone jogs my arm as I start my last name and then I just write out the last name beside the error. I feel like I should initial my middle initial just to be clear it was me.
   49. Bunny Vincennes Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:26 PM (#4014992)
Dunno when this (mythical?) caring period took place, but it certainly wasn't during my lifetime.

Well, I won't disagree with this, certainly. I was thinking more 1872, probably.


I'm guessing the date is somewhere around 1963-5. Its when the Parker Jotter ballpoint unseated the Parker 51 fountain pen, as the largest selling writing instrument in the world. Its much easier to print with a ballpoint. The entire point of writing with a fountain pen is to keep the nib on the paper, the ink flowing, and the pen moving. The pick up/put down inherent to printing is massively ineffective with a fountain pen.
   50. Bunny Vincennes Posted: December 13, 2011 at 03:34 PM (#4015010)
Also, I meant to add, that when I worked at Parker, the engineering department would bring out preproduction samples of each mode of pen/pencil from time to time and have us work on using them. You signed a form when you started working there as to what mode of test instrument you wanted. I always got the fountain pens. I housed the pre-production Limited Edition Douglas MacArthur Duofold right before I left and the office closed. But at least once a month, you would spend an afternoon putting a pen through its paces by working on your penmanship from some book by some reasonably famous cursive guru. I forget her name. The books were from the 1950's. Just like everything else in that office at 5100 N. Parker Drive.

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