Mamie Moberly, the Babe's sister, dies

July 03, 1992|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

She was born as Mary Margaret Ruth, but everyone knew her as "Mamie" -- the name, she would say, her brother George would use to annoy her.

On Wednesday, Mamie Ruth Moberly -- the little sister of baseball immortal Babe Ruth -- died of cancer at the Colton Villa Nursing Center in Hagerstown. She was 91.

A native of Baltimore, Mamie Ruth lived during her childhood in the apartments above various family taverns -- including, from about 1906 to 1912, Ruth's Saloon, located roughly in what is now center field at the city's new baseball palace, Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

She was one of eight children, but only she and her brother, George Herman Ruth, who was 5 1/2 years older, survived to adulthood.

She married Wilbur Marion Moberly, a clothing cutter, and lived for many years at 2712 Winchester St. in Baltimore. Mrs. Moberly, a homemaker, moved to Hagerstown to be with her daughter and son-in-law after her husband's death about 1964.

As the sister of baseball's biggest legend, Mrs. Moberly was called on often since his death in 1948 for memories of his rough childhood.

True to her character of never saying anything negative about people, she would take exception to anyone's calling her brother bad. He was sent away to St. Mary's Industrial School, she said, because he cut

classes and wouldn't go to school -- not because he was bad.

She was an occasional visitor to Baltimore in recent years, attending ceremonies for the groundbreaking and opening of the Babe Ruth Museum at his birthplace -- the Emory Street home of their grandparents -- along with special occasions there.

"As the years have gone by," said museum executive director Michael Gibbons, "we have gotten a lot of calls about Babe Ruth, and Mamie was always willing to talk. I never hesitated to pass the calls on to Mamie. She loved to talk about her

brother.

"If Babe Ruth was anything like his sister, then he was a sweetheart of a guy."

"She was very positive about the new ballpark, and felt it was an honor they had built a ballpark on the spot where her brother had played stickball when he came home," Mr. Gibbons said.

Mrs. Moberly received a warm reception from crowds lining the route of the 1988 Preakness Parade, waving from a convertible. In April, she made her first trip to a movie theater in many years to see "The Babe," starring John Goodman.

She said the Babe was not as wild as the movie made him out to be. "He wasn't, but he was always so full of mischief," she said. "He really could smoke cigars."

Mrs. Moberly is survived by her daughter, Florence Margaret Binau, and two grandchildren, Janice McNamee and Robert Binau, all of Hagerstown; and a great-granddaughter, April Zang of Salisbury. Two sons died in infancy.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the Minnich Funeral Home, 415 E. Wilson Blvd. in Hagerstown, followed by a graveside service about 1 p.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery, 2130 Woodlawn Drive.

The family suggested memorial donations to the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, 216 Emory St., Baltimore 21230.

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