The Day Babe Ruth Died in Asheville

One thing I enjoy about writing fiction is not just making things up but rather discovering historical facts that can fuel a fictional story.

The Sam Blackman series revolves around the Past creating murderous consequences in the Present. The events don't have to be major, but they do have to be interesting. Such is the case of the story of how Babe Ruth died in Asheville, North Carolina.

In the spring of 1925, the Bambino and his Yankee teammates were traveling by rail from training in Florida back to New York. Along the way, exhibition games were scheduled to build excitement and generate revenue in the days leading up to the season opener.

After stopping in Knoxville, Tennessee, the team continued by train to Asheville. Evidently, Babe Ruth consumed so many hotdogs and drank so much beer en route that he collapsed in the Asheville depot. He was carried to the Battery Park Hotel and word rippled through the reporters that Ruth had died. The news spread like wildfire around the globe. For twenty-four hours, Babe Ruth was dead in Asheville.

Then the facts caught up with the fiction. The Babe had an intestinal abscess severely exacerbated by his horrendous diet. He would not return to the team until June. One reporter dubbed it, "The bellyache heard round the world." I ask you, how many towns are famous for who didn't die in them?

But that trip to Asheville wasn't his last. In 1931, the Babe and teammate Lou Gehrig played exhibition games, each hitting homeruns in historic McCormick Field. And that leads to the "what if?" question – who got those homerun baseballs? If autographed by those giants of the sport, what would they be worth today? And though Babe Ruth escaped death in Asheville, would someone else tied to the game not be so lucky?

It's a mystery to me and one worth exploring. Stay tuned….