02-26-14-catch-baseball-fever.gifBabe Ruth hit his first home run as a paid professional baseball player in Fayetteville. Yes! George Herman “Babe” Ruth’s first home run as a paid professional baseball player happened in Fayetteville during an intra squad game as a Baltimore Oriole on March 7, 1914, in which he played shortstop. He was only 19 years old.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s home run in Fayetteville, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex has planned a re-dedication of the 1952 historic highway marker honoring the Great Bambino’s home run.

Catch the “Fayetteville Baseball Fever” when it strikes on March 7 with the re-dedication of the highway and a vintage baseball game on March 8. The re-dedication will take place at 558 Gillespie St. at Southern Ave. at the DOT facility, and the vintage game will take place at Arnette Park, located at 2165 Wilmington Hwy,.

Local and state officials will hold a ceremony to re-dedicate the historic highway marker on March 7 at 2 p.m. Opening on March 7, to accompany the museum’s baseball programs, is an exhibit entitled Sports in the Sandhills. It is a collaboration between the Museum of the Cape Fear and the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum and features two visits Babe Ruth made to Fayetteville (one in 1914 and one in 1935). The exhibit also features another baseball player by the name of Jim Thorpe, who also spent a short time in Fayetteville. On March 8, at 11 a.m., baseball re-enactors will converge at Arnette Park and play a Vintage Baseball double header.

“Vintage Baseball is done by baseball re-enactors,” said Leisa Greathouse, curator of education at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. “They are like Civil War re-enactors, but they play baseball. They play by rules from 1864, so we’re talking about the mid 19th Century. They’ll wear uniforms like the ones used during that time period, so this is like the early-early beginnings of baseball.

“The rules are a little bit different. The hitter, as he is known today, was known as the striker — for striking at the ball. They played barehanded — no gloves, because the baseball was made a little differently, and Arnette Park had a field that met the regulations for the distances between the bases that were common during the mid 19th Century, when baseball was being played.

“The games will continue until the double header is complete and Arnette Park will have concessions that day, so it’ll be just like going out to a baseball game.”

Quoting Babe Ruth, as told to writer and commentator Bob Considine in 1948, Greathouse read, “Late in that game, I hit the first professional home run of my life as I hit all the others: by taking a good gander at the pitch as it came up to the plate, twisting my body into a back swing and then hitting it as hard as I could swing. The ball cleared the right field fence and landed in the cornfield beyond. I don’t have to tell you what it did to me inside, but the effect on Dunny (Manager Jack Dunn) and the others was easy to see, too.”

Led by the Museum of the Cape Fear, the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum, the N.C. Dept. of Transportation, the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fayetteville Parks and Recreation, and the City of Fayetteville have stepped forward to provide these programs at no cost.

“The Sports in the Sandhills Exhibit can be seen during the museum’s regular operating hours,” said Greathouse, covering all the bases (pun intended!) in regard to the planned centennial events.

For more information, visit www.ncdcr.gov/ncmcf/Events.aspx; www.BabeRuthFayettevilleNC.com, or call 910-486-1330. JOSE´GREEN, Intern, COM-MENTS? Editor@upandcomin-gweekly.com.

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