Maybe now, Babe Ruth can rest in peace

Visitors to grave include Boston fan saying `thanks'

October 29, 2004|By Dom Amore | Dom Amore,HARTFORD COURANT

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. - Marion Muhlfeld walked up the hill slowly, haltingly, reverently. She carried a small flower in one hand, something concealed in the other.

As a group of reporters, a priest and a cemetery official turned away to give her privacy, the woman placed a flower in the hand of the figure on the monument, then unwrapped and buried her secret gift.

"I just came by to thank him," said Muhlfeld, one of the handful who stopped by Babe Ruth's final resting place yesterday, the day after the Red Sox finally won the World Series without him. "I always say `thank you' when my prayers are answered."

With a little prodding, she revealed it was an olive she put in the ground.

And, no, she wasn't garnishing a Ruthian martini.

"The olive branch is the symbol for peace, isn't it?" she asked, seeking reassurance.

There is hope that peace will now return to this place.

Perhaps Bill Lane, assistant superintendent of Gate of Heaven Cemetery, will no longer need to come up here several times a day to pick up the hot dogs, pizzas, beer cans, signs and T-shirts with objectionable language.

Now that The Curse, or drought, is over, there is hope Lane will find no more people pouring beer into the ground under which baseball's greatest icon was interred in 1948.

"It's appropriate when nice things are left here," said Father Joe Blenkle, a longtime Mets fan who stopped by, as he frequently does, after a service at nearby Holy Name of Jesus in Valhalla. "I feel sorry for people in Boston who really believe there was a curse involved. I just come by to say `thank you.' The man saved baseball."

It was surprising that so few came by on this day after the Red Sox beat the Cardinals to complete their sweep.

The media were expecting some mass pilgrimage. Visiting the Babe's grave became one of those ultimate `in' things for Yankees and Red Sox fans once the concept of "The Curse of the Bambino," the title of a popular book on the plight of those who root for the Red Sox, took hold.

Last fall, when the Yankees and Red Sox were playing in the American League Championship Series, Lane had to chase away a man who set up a lawn chair and planned to drink beer in Ruth's presence for Babe-knows-how-long.

"Last year, it started getting out of hand," said Lane, who has worked at the cemetery for 22 years. "We try to keep things respectful and in line with what this is. This is a cemetery, a Catholic cemetery."

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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