Some hits, some errors

July 19, 1995|By Martin D. Tullai

WHEN THE 9-foot, 800-pound statue of Babe Ruth was finally unveiled in Baltimore in May, it showed the bronze Babe leaning on a bat and clutching on his hip a right-handed fielder's glove. OOPS! Babe Ruth was a lefty!

An error? Indeed. Unprecedented? Hardly.

History shows lots of folks have erred, miscalculated or generally missed the mark.

Here are some gaffes and goofs to ponder.

* When Missouri officials erected a multilingual sign outside Lambert Airport in St. Louis, it was a generous gesture intended to welcome foreign visitors. It also looked nice.

OOPS! The Spanish, German and French salutations were misspelled or grammatically incorrect.

* When 30,000 Christmas cards were sent out by then-Vice President Dan Quayle's office with the message: "May our nation continue to be the beakon of hope to the world," it offered a wonderful thought.

OOPS! The word "beacon" was misspelled.

* When the U.S. Naval Academy held its graduation in 1990, nearly 1,000 midshipmen were overjoyed to receive their diplomas.

OOPS! On the bottom of the parchment was an error committed by the printing company -- the word Naval appeared as "Navel."

* When a scene for the movie "Die Hard 2" was being filmed, supposedly set at Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia, Bruce Willis was shown rushing to a pay phone.

OOPS! The phone he rushed to was clearly marked Pacific Bell, a California-only phone company.

* In 1937, Spencer Tracy won an Academy Award for his role in the film "Captains Courageous."

OOPS! The Oscar had been engraved with the name "Dick Tracy."

* In its February 1992 issue, Scholastic Search declared that the 14th Amendment guaranteed black U.S. residents the right to vote.

OOPS! It is the 15th Amendment which states that, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged . . . on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

* When the football feud between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles heated up, one of the largest grocery chains in Dallas -- the Kroger Co. -- announced that it would pull Philadelphia Cream Cheese from its shelves when the rivals met at Texas Stadium.

OOPS! This did not affect the Philadelphia economy. The cream cheese is made in Springfield, Mo.

* When the New York Times poked fun at Vice President Quayle for his spelling of potato, others joined in the laughter.

OOPS! In a later story, the Times spelled his name "Quale."

* Relatives of a deceased resident of Grenville, S.C., received this note from that state's Department of Social Services: "Your food stamps will be stopped effective March, 1992, because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may apply if there is a change in your circumstances."

OOPS! ". . . a change in your circumstances?"

* When Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh called for educational excellence at a meeting of the Education Commission of States, he told a story of an Indiana teacher who had adopted a new, more effective, but more difficult teaching technique.

He said: "In the words of George Bernard Shaw . . . 'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by.' "

OOPS! The poem is "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

* During a Feb. 12, 1993, newscast, ABC Radio Entertainment Network reported: "Friday, Feb. 12, 1993, marks the 184th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death."

OOPS! This date marked the 184th birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

* When Raquel Welch was in Chicago to lead a 1990 pro-abortion rally, she said on "Larry King Live" that she "was asked to come to Chicago because Chicago is in one of our 52 states."

OOPS! 52 states?

* When Republican governors met in Phoenix, Ariz., to plan for the next election, a giant circular placard with a symbolic state house in the center, read: "Republican Governers Association."

OOPS! Governors is misspelled.

So, if you've blundered, take heart and reflect on the words of Henry David Thoreau: "One cannot too soon forget his errors . . . for to dwell upon them is to add to the offense."

Martin D. Tullai is chairman of the history department at St. Paul's School.

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