The Curse of the Bambino is a superstition that evolved from the Boston Red Sox’s failure to win the World Series after Boston sold Babe Ruth to New York. Before then, the Red Sox team had been one of the most successful baseball franchises, winning five World Series. After the sale they went without a title for 86 years, while the previously lackluster Yankees became one of the most storied franchises in sports. In 2004, Boston broke the curse, when they swept the Cardinals in four. Boston continued to make up for lost time when a few years later they also swept the Tigers. In the first game of this series the Red Sox extended their World Series winning streak to nine games. Last night that streak came to an end, when the Cards won 4-2.
Let me tell a story here. The rest is a sort of repost. It is one that my Mother told me. It is about her Uncle Lukey, her father’s brother. Luke Urban was a gifted athlete and coach. In college Lukey was captain of Boston College’s football, basketball, and baseball teams and goaltender on the hockey squad; one of the rare four-sport Letterman in University history. After college he played professional football in Buffalo (All-Pro), basketball and two seasons of Major League baseball for the Boston Braves. After his playing career, he continued on for many years in coaching, at both the college and high school levels.
The story that my Mom always told was that Uncle Lukey had roomed with Babe Ruth. On the road, none of the other players wanted to room with Ruth, because every night after a night of drinking and carousing, he would come back to the hotel room and wake his roommate up. Luke being low man on the pole, had gotten the pairing. The other anecdote from this liaison, has Lukey recounting that the Babe was always borrowing money. He always closed this story with, “But he would always pay you back.”
I had always assumed that they met while playing for the Boston Braves. I imagined Lukey, as the young kid coming up for his chance at The Show. I imagined the Babe, past his prime, just traded from the Yankees, back to Boston. The problem with this story is that while both Lukey and the Babe did both played for the Braves, they did so in different decades. Another problem with this view is that Lukey was only three years younger than the Babe.
I did find this reference to Lukey in the book, Fall River Dreams, that somewhat substantiates the family’s story. It adds the news that they roomed together while playing for a minor league team and not in the major’s as I had assumed. According to Wiki, while the Babe was on his way up, he was once sent back down from the Boston Red Sox, to the minors to play for the Providence Grays.
The year would have been 1914. Lukey would have been in high school and only sixteen. The Babe would have been nineteen. The Babe got his nickname because he was so young-looking when he started playing. Providence is not that far from Fall River and in high school Lukey was already playing ball. Maybe they did room for one summer. Lukey was a catcher and at the time the Babe was a pitcher, both young, they would have made a natural pairing.