The post-war era saw the MLB and Mexican league in a war for players; Mexican League president Jorge Pasquel was prepared to break the bank to lure away MLB stars Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Phil Rizzuto. Pasquel reportedly offered Feller $500,000 for five years and Williams $360,000 for three. Babe Ruth was said to be offered the league presidency and Pasquel even reportedly offered the then-current MLB commissioner Happy Chandler $50,000 to become commissioner of the Mexican league– none of which panned out.
Pasquel wasn’t deterred and constantly tried to lure big names to Mexico. This is when in the fall of 1946, a 51-year-old Babe Ruth –who never attained his dream of managing a major league team — made his only trip south of the border to meet a man he hoped would give him his chance to compete on the diamond again.
Pasquel brought Babe and his family to Mexico City for a two-week vacation, seeing the sites, watching games, playing golf. Ruth stayed at the Hotel Reforma and his visit coincided with the final bullfight at the now defunct “El Toreo” bullring, located in the Condesa neighborhood; making the Sultan of Swat one of the last tourist to visit Plaza El Toreo.
The end of the holiday saw babe return to the 22,000 packed Delta Park crowd roaring “el bambino.” No one knew it at the time, but they were about to witness the sultan of swats’ final exhibition home run.
When Pasquel halted the game between the first and second inning to introduce Babe, who gave a speech praising the Pasquel brothers ¨unselfishness in trying to bring the sport ¨to their native land, ¨ it set off a wildfire of speculation throughout the world on what role The Babe would play in the Mexican League. Like any all-star athlete today, he left it open to interpretation.
“Three years ago I promised not to hit again, but the Mexican public has been so good to me that I will break my promise. Do not expect much from me, I am already 51 years old .”Babe Ruth
Babe climbed the mound of Parque Delta and made threw to the catcher, Jorge Pasquel displaying for the final time the two-way play that propelled him into stardom.
Then it was time for what everyone came to see– Babe stepped to the plate. The first pitcher was the Cuban Ramón Bragaña, who took the opportunity to make the aging Ruth look foolish by throwing fastballs across the plate resulting in the 51-year-old fouling most of the pitches. With fans growing bored, Mexican pitcher Alberto Romo Chávez–one of the best pitchers in Mexican Baseball history– stepped to the mound.
The then 51-year-old still managed to mesmerize with his swing and hit his final home run over the right-field wall, reminding spectators of his golden days as they stood to give the Babe his final standing ovation.
Today, there’s little doubt that Pasquel planned to end the trip with Babe having some role within the organization. But, it became apparent that he suffered from severe health problems, and they didn’t know it at the time, but The Great Bambino only had a few more years left before cancer would take his life.
That homerun in Delta Park is considered the last made by George Herman Ruth Jr.