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Did Babe Ruth Really Throw a Piano into a Massachusetts Pond?

Margaret Lipman
By
Published Jun 27, 2024
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There is no shortage of legends surrounding Babe Ruth, one of the most famous baseball players of all time. Even the most casual baseball fans probably know about the “Curse of the Bambino” when Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee after the 1919 season. But do you know about the decades-long search for the Great Bambino's piano?

After a stint in the minor leagues with the Baltimore Orioles, Ruth’s Major League Baseball career began in 1914 as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Before long, Ruth began to demonstrate his prowess as a hitter, eventually setting the single-season home run record in the 1919 season, with 29 homers. With his help, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 1915, 1916, and 1918.

Ruth would break his own home run record several times over the next eight years (reaching 60 homers in the 1927 season), but not as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Instead, on December 26, 1919, Ruth’s contract was sold to the Yankees for $100,000. This transaction would mark a turning point in the history of both teams, with the Red Sox suddenly finding themselves without another pennant win until 1946. They wouldn’t win another World Series until 2004 – the aforementioned “Curse of the Bambino.”

But before that, while still playing for the Red Sox, Babe Ruth and his wife, Helen, rented a hunting and fishing camp in Sudbury, Massachusetts. According to one popular legend, during the winter of 1918, Ruth hurled an upright piano from the porch of his cabin into Willis Pond as a (possibly drunken) show of strength. Another version of the story is that Babe and some friends pushed the piano down the hill onto the frozen pond so that Helen could play it and everyone else could dance. They later found it too heavy to push back up, so it eventually sank into the pond when the ice melted. Another variation says the partygoers pushed it off the ice and it sat in the woods near the pond.

For decades, people have searched for this piano. Keven Kennedy, a Sudbury resident and avid Red Sox fan, was instrumental in multiple search efforts, including one in 2001 when six divers from the Quincy Police Search and Rescue Team came up empty-handed after a four-hour search. However, in 2010, with the help of Charlie Barry, who said that he and his brother had used the dilapidated piano as part of their clubhouse in the woods in the 1960s before eventually throwing it in the lake, the divers found a piano leg and a large piece of wood. Experts later identified this as a piano veneer from the 1920s that could have come from the Bambino’s piano. The wood is now stored at the Sudbury Historical Society. A large metal object, which may have been the piano’s harp, was also observed but would require significant resources and an archaeological permit to remove, so it has yet to be excavated.

The Curse/Blessing of the Bambino:

  • In contrast to the Red Sox, the New York Yankees would see their fortunes change for the better after acquiring Ruth, winning seven American League pennants and four World Series titles (1923, 1927, 1928, and 1932) in the 15 seasons Ruth spent on their roster. Though Ruth would pitch in a few more games across the rest of his career, he would primarily be an outfielder, focused mainly on hitting.

  • During the 1927 season, Ruth and teammates Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, Earle Combs, and Mark Koenig would earn the nickname Murderers’ Row for their spectacular batting results.

  • The Curse of the Bambino was finally lifted when the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in four games in October 2004. They also won the World Series in 2007, 2013, and 2018, so the curse appears to be well and truly over.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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