The Bambino Takes the Field

No, it’s not a vision of a parallel universe—that is actually Babe Ruth, suited up with the 1926 Drake Bulldogs football team.

In the fall of 1926, Ruth had just finished a 47-home run, .372-batting average season with the American League champion New York Yankees. Stopping in Des Moines for a postseason exhibition game, The Babe was invited to try out America’s other favorite pastime.

According to a 1990 Los Angeles Times article, Drake Coach Ossie Solem extended an invitation, and Ruth “gleefully” came to Drake Stadium to suit up. He scrimmaged, passed, punted, and played offense and defense. Ruth even took down Bulldog star and The Des Moines Register Iowa Sports Hall of Famer Chuck Everett on a rushing attempt.

Ruth soon reverted to his Yankee pinstripes, but not without leaving an intriguing mark on the history of Drake Stadium—and some very interesting photos—behind. Ruth led the Yankees to back-to-back World Series victories in 1927 and 1928.

Eighty-five years after the Sultan of Swat left his footprints on the Bulldogs’ home turf, a new group of champs huddled on Johnny Bright Field at Drake Stadium. The 2011 Drake football team hefted the Pioneer Football League trophy after besting the University of Dayton at home (see Now photo spread on preceding pages).

Paul Morrison, a Drake fixture for more than 65 years, was on hand for the latest addition to the history of Drake football.

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