Saturday, April 18, 2009

The House That Ruth Built, Ezra Pound

Yankee Stadium opened on April 18, 1923. It was called the House that Ruth Built, but more accurately it was the house that Ruth paid for. The day in 1919 when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth's contract to the Yankees is one that lives in baseball infamy. Frazee put the $100,000 into a Broadway Show, No No Nanette, but the transaction put a curse on the Red Sox that would last until October 2004.

Babe Ruth, who had been to that point the best left-handed pitcher in the game, quickly became the greatest slugger the game had ever known. He sold tickets. In the aftermath of the Black Sox scandal of 1919, Babe Ruth's larger than life personality and spectacular play probably saved major league baseball from itself. He was 24 when he became a Yankee and was given the number 3.

On April 18, 1958 the poet Ezra Pound was ordered freed from St. Elizabeth's Hospital where he'd been confined for 12 years for treason. Pound was a groundbreaking poet and an advisor, editor and champion of many of the century's great writers, including T. S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway. But with the onset of World War II he also became a champion of fascism, which became a problem. He never relented. On his release from the asylum he was asked "How did it go in the madhouse?" "Rather badly," he said. "But what other place could one live in America?"

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