Going to great depths to sink `Bambino' curse

Red Sox fans are tired of carrying the weight of piano on their backs

Sports Plus

March 03, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Last summer, a Boston Red Sox fan tried to break the Curse of the Bambino by planting a New York Yankees cap on Mount Everest.

Alas, going to great heights -- 29,028 feet, to be precise -- didn't work. The Red Sox fell short again in 2001.

So, now, fans of the foiled baseball team are going in a new direction.


On Feb. 23, a group of loyal supporters went to the bottom of a Sudbury, Mass., pond in search of Babe Ruth's piano, which, the story goes, was pitched into the water by the slugger in 1918.

The group hopes to refurbish the piano and play it again, just as the Babe did in 1918, the last time the Red Sox won a World Series. A season later, Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees, who have since won 26 world championships.

"Once we bring this up, the Red Sox will win," historian Lee Swanson said.

The five-diver search last month failed, said Chris Hugo, who works with the state Board of Underwater Archaeological Research, in part because visibility was poor. The group -- sponsored by the Restoration Project, an organization that helps rehabilitate adults with mental illness and head injuries -- plans to return with a sonar scanner that can penetrate sediment.

How do the dive organizers know the piano is there? On Dec. 22, Hugo used an infrared camera and identified a "rectangular shape with wiry weeds" at the bottom, 15 feet below the surface and near the shore.

According to legend, Ruth was staying at a cottage where he and his teammates could party in peace when he picked up the out-of-tune upright, carried it outside and heaved it off the deck. The piano tumbled down a small hill before splashing into Willis Pond about 50 feet away. Alcohol was believed to be a factor.

If excavated, the piano would be state property, but Restoration Project would have preservation rights and may one day donate it to the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore.

Here's one song that definitely will not be played on it:

"New York, New York."

Chin music

Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez is tired of hearing about the curse.

Last season, after beating the Yankees, 3-0, he told reporters: "I don't believe in curses. Wake up the Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I'll drill him."

This spring, Martinez has softened his stance, saying he has the utmost respect for Ruth.

"The Babe was a good man," Martinez said. "It's the curse I want to drill."

Modern-day sequel

San Francisco Chronicle reader Rob Brennan posed a question to columnist Tom FitzGerald about the Oakland Athletics' future.

"In the wake of the A's failure to re-sign Jason Giambi, I wonder if A's fans need to prepare ourselves for the Curse of the Giambino."

Just our luck

Richard Burkard of Laugh- Line.com wondered:

"Why doesn't this alleged Sports Illustrated cover jinx ever apply to swimsuit models?"

Inside the Coggin noggin

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher David Coggin doesn't believe in good-luck charms.

His reasoning: "It's bad luck to be superstitious."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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