Q&A with David Wells — about The Babe
June 29, 2014 — Earlier this month, I spent a day at the Leewood Golf Club with former Yankees pitcher and Babe Ruth admirer David Wells. While we were at the club, I interviewed Wells about his fondness of the Bambino for a sidebar to my feature story on Ruth’s favorite hideouts (which will be published in the July Issue).
In addition to the places I detailed in the blog entry below, the Leewood golf course is also featured in my story. Ruth was a member at the Eastchester, New York club from 1938 through 1944, and his presence is still very much alive on the grounds today.
There is a lounge named after The Babe, and its walls are decked with photos of him — several of which were taken on the course. Additionally, stories about Ruth are often mentioned on the 17th hole. Legend has it that Ruth’s drives from the tee often sailed more than 300 yards and reached the green. On many of those occasions, he scored an eagle, sinking the ball on two strokes.
Ruth’s greatest legacy at the course is a tunnel that connects the Bronx River Parkway to Leewood Drive — a small road that the club is located off of. Prior to when Ruth joined the club, the tunnel was too narrow for automobiles to pass through. It was instead used as a cattle crossing. But in order to make the commute from New York City quicker for Ruth, city officials widened the tunnel so that one vehicle at a time could fit through it.
After our group sank their putts on the 18th hole, I brought Wells to the tunnel for a photo op. Yankees photographer Matt Ziegler snapped a few shots of Wells on sidewalk, and then the pitcher made the next photo even better. In the few seconds during which there were no cars coming through the tunnel, Wells ran into the street and posed for the photo below.
After the photo shoot, Wells spoke to me about the Babe.
“He’s the most recognized athlete of all time because he dominated his sport like no one ever has, and he still burned the candle at both ends,” Wells said. “He was the first rock star in sports.
“Anywhere The Babe spent time is a historical place,” Wells continued. “I have a great appreciation for places like this. I was looking at all the trees and wondering if they were here when he played on this course. I hit a few trees, and I wondered if he might have hit the same ones. It was nice to play on a course that he played on.”
To read the entire interview, pick up your copy of the July Issue of Yankees Magazine, which will be on sale on Monday June 30.
–Alfred Santasiere III