SSTN Interviews Larry Cutler Professional Ballplayer & Babe Ruth Introducer
by Paul Semendinger July 23, 2020
Through our friendship with New York Sports Tours, we were able to interview Larry Cutler who was the New York City ballplaying kid who had the honor of introducing Babe Ruth on Babe Ruth Day on April 27, 1947.
Following this interview, below, again courtesy of New York Sports Tours, are the speeches given by Larry Cutler, Major League Commissioner of Baseball Happy Chandler, and Babe Ruth himself.
Hello Larry. It is great to have this opportunity to talk with you.
Thank you to you as well, Paul. It’s nice to have this opportunity to talk baseball with you.
You were given the privilege of introducing Babe Ruth on Babe Ruth Day in 1947.
That must have been something. Please tell me, were you a Yankees fan back then?
Oh yes. I have always been a Yankees fan. They were the greatest. Still are. The only time I wasn’t a fan was when I played myself. I still am a fan, even today, even though I live in Denver. I watch the games as often as I can.
The Yankees had so many great players. So many. I remember Lou Gehrig. He and Babe Ruth were very similar ballplayers. They both had great power. Gehrig ran better than Ruth.
The Yankees also had a lot of great managers. Joe McCarthy, for example. Joe DiMaggio credits McCarthy for making him a better player.
Casey Stengel was also great.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
Joe DiMaggio. He was the best there was. Of course, I liked them all.
Snuffy Stirnweiss was also a favorite.
You got to see Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle both play. Who was better?
You know, Mantle was only half a year older than me. They were both great. DiMaggio was the better fielder… but Mantle had tremendous power and speed. If he hadn’t hurt his knee in that World Series game, God knows what he would have done. He was the top player they had.
You were competing on an American Legion All-Star team when you were selected to introduce Ruth on Babe Ruth Day. Please tell us how they came to choose you.
Well, I was a pretty good player myself. American Legion Ball was a big deal. It was the best organization at that time. It was semi-pro. We had top talent. At that time, the Babe was helping city kids through the American Legion . They wanted to have a kid introduce Babe Ruth since he was connected to the kids – always was connected with kids…
And Babe even said it during his speech when he said, “You can’t be a great player unless you start young. Six or seven years-old.” You might be able to pick up a different sport, maybe basketball or football if you’re older, but not baseball.
The Babe started you. He knew that well since he started so young in Baltimore.
In 1946, I was an All-Star. We played a big championship game against Connecticut. My manger, Arthur Bernie, he liked me, and he had a connection with the Yankees, with Paul Kritchell, the scout who signed Lou Gehrig and many others.
That was how I was selected, I guess.
You were a great ballplayer yourself…
I had good hands. It was once said that I had hands like Phil Rizzuto. I could also hit, though not with power. Still, on two occasions I hit over .400. The Yankees knew of me.
And you ended up playing professional ball, correct?
Yes. I played for a few years in the minor leagues. I was a hustler. I had a .297 professional average.
It was fun. We won a lot too.
On one team, they were in last place with a 3-15 record until I got there. We then won 12 straight and the pennant. We beat Dallas Green’s team in the series. He later managed the Phillies to a World Series and the Yankees and the Mets.
Do you remember playing against Johnny Vander Meer who was then in the minor leagues long after his double-No-Hit games?
Oh sure. I knew Johnny. He was the manager in 1955 for Daytona Beach. I remember in one game he had me intentionally walked.
You also played against future Hall-of-Famer Orlando Cepeda…
He was great even then. He was the best player in the league- even then. Amazing. He hit about .393 that year.
These were great guys. I’d talk with all of them. Orlando was a great hitter.
Who was the best player you played with?
Decon Jones. He reached the Majors – spent two years. He could also hit. I think he batted .409 one year. He hurt his shoulder or he would have really been amazing. He changed from a right-handed hitter to a lefty-handed hitter. A good guy. We were roommates.
These are great memories. Fantastic. I wish I had been good enough to play.
Getting back to the Babe, and his special day, your special day, please share your memories of that day.
I don’t know who wrote the script, I just had to read it. They knew I also spoke well. It went quickly. I saw Happy Chandler and Ford Frick. I sat with them during the game. They were so nice – talked with me.
It was a great experience. I came wearing my American Legion uniform. Bobby Brown of the Yankees also talked with me. I remember he said “Good luck, kid.” Nice guy.
I didn’t get a change to talk to the Babe. I would have liked to. I watched him, I listened to him.
He was the greatest.
Would you like to share any final thoughts as we close?
Babe Ruth was the greatest. We all knew that. He made it happen. He changed the game with his home runs. Ty Cobb wanted to steal bases. Honus Wagner, he was a tough player. Rough. These were great players, but they weren’t Babe Ruth. Nobody ever did what he did.
The Babe was also an interesting personality. He liked people. He’d joke with them. He was nice to people.
Babe Ruth was the greatest. He changed the game – made it what it is today.
Thank you so much Larry. This was great. I loved talking baseball with you and sharing so many memories.
It was great, Paul. Thank you too.
The following, courtesy of New York Sports Tours, are the complete speeches from Babe Ruth Day:
TRANSCRIPT – BABE RUTH DAY – APRIL 27, 1947
At this time, I would like to introduce a boy who will be under the leadership of Babe Ruth when Babe takes over his new job as director of baseball for the American Legion. Representing the boys of the American Legion, speaking for every American boy, ladies and gentlemen, here is Larry Cutler.
Thank you, Mr. Chandler. I guess there are thousands of 13-year old fellows like myself in this country who have heard about Babe Ruth. Ever since the first time they learned there was such a game as basbeall. It’s a great honor to be here. Just to be able to tell Babe Ruth how proud we are to have him back in baseball. Back where he belongs. To know that Babe Ruth is going to be with us kids, well, that’s the biggest and best thing that could happen in baseball. From all of us kids, Babe, it’s swell to have you back.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. You know how bad my voice sounds. Well, it feels just as bad. You know, this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you’re a boy and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in your national pastime.
The only real game, i think, in the world, is baseball. As a rule, some people think that in the game of football or a baseball or something like that, naturally, they’re athletes right away. But you can’t do that in baseball. You got to start from way down, at the bottom, when you’re six or seven years of age. You can’t wait until you’re 15 or 16.
You got to let it grow up with you. And if you’re successful and you try hard enough, you’re bound to come out on top, just like these boys, have come to the top now. There have been so many lovely things said about me and I’m glad that I’ve have the opportunity to thank everybody. Thank you.