A few weeks back, after reading a blog post by local RI events website, What’s Up Rhode Island, I learned that the Pawtucket Red Sox would be hosting “Truck Day.” “Truck Day” included a fan’s eye view of the official equipment truck of the Boston Red Sox filled with training equipment, baseballs, gloves, personal items, and more which would make a stop in Pawtucket before heading to Fort Myers, FL and Spring Training. In addition to the excitement of the truck arriving, the post also mentioned that Babe Ruth’s granddaughter, Linda Ruth Tosetti, would be making a public appearance at the event. Tosetti is the daughter of Dorothy Helen Ruth Pirone, who was Babe Ruth’s only biological daughter. (Ruth also adopted his second wife’s daughter, Julia) I was eager to attend the event to catch a glimpse of a relative of a baseball player who hasn’t played a professional game since 1935. That is the Babe Ruth Effect and I was not alone that day, nor am I alone in the world of baseball. Babe Ruth has endured a lasting effect on American history, baseball history, and the lives of so many millions of sports fans for generations.
Around the time when the truck was to arrive, Dr. Charles Steinberg of the Pawtucket Red Sox began his opening remarks about “Truck Day” and also introduced Babe Ruth’s granddaughter, Linda Ruth Tosetti. Tosetti was warm and funny and engaging with the crowd of fans, who ranged in age from kindergarten to senior citizens. After the equipment truck arrived, I waited my turn in line to meet Linda and introduce the concept of the Rhode Island Baseball Experience. I said “I would love to interview you for the RIBBE.” She gratuitously accepted my invitation to interview her about her grandfather and we exchanged email addresses. I sent her an email later that day thanking her for her time and asking her about some potential dates. Much to my surprise, Linda got back to me with enthusiasm about getting together. I was beyond excited.
After a few weeks of scheduling and re-scheduling, Linda and I settled on this past Saturday and to meet in Mystic, CT for lunch. I had invited my wife Rachel to join me and Linda’s husband Andy would also be attending. Linda suggested local restaurant Bravo Bravo as our meeting place and we connected about 1pm. As soon as Rachel and I greeted Linda and Andy, I had the feeling that something special was about to happen.
Linda and Andy Tosetti greeted us with warm smiles and a pleasant demeanor that was so welcoming. I took a seat next to Linda and Rachel sat next to Andy at our four place table in the corner of this incredible lunch and dinner spot in Mystic. We all had a great view of East Main St, which over looks the harbor and that cool retractable bridge in picturesque Mystic Seaport. Before long, Andy and I were in a spirited conversation about Bryce Harper, salaries, and what pissed us off about modern day baseball. Linda and Rachel were filling each other in on family, kids, nephews, and nieces. Linda suggested that she and I switch places so I could sit and face Andy instead of yelling diagonal across the table. Her charm, her manners, and her sense of what was the right thing to do came through from the moment I sat down and continued throughout the day. What a class individual and a master at reading the room.
The waitress, new to Bravo Bravo, came to greet us and take our lunch orders several times. She was very nice and patient. Well, she had to be patient. This was quite the challenge because Andy and I and Rachel and Linda were off and running conversation wise. A good twenty minutes straight and we had yet to look at the menu. It was then when Linda took charge and said “Let’s take a glance and get back to ourselves in just a bit.” After reviewing the menu and making our choices, Linda turned to me and asked “Aren’t you supposed to be interviewing me?” and we all sort of chuckled at the question. There I was, sitting with Babe Ruth’s granddaughter, with my notebook just a few inches away, filled with close to 50 baseball related questions, my trusty pen, my camera phone with voice recorder and camera, just waiting to build the framework of one of my most highly anticipated articles to date. The opportunity to learn, first hand, about this story and that story and this question answered – not by some random internet blog or news outlet many times removed from the truth. But from the blood relative of perhaps the greatest baseball player of all time.
My answer shocked everyone at the table but I wouldn’t have it any other way. “I just want to listen to you and Andy. I want to pay attention, close attention to details and back stories and untold stories of your grandfather.” I didn’t want to take anything down on paper because I knew at that moment that I had made two friends. And friends feel that comfort level to tell stories and laugh and share personal things and feel connected. At that moment, I felt connected to Linda’s stories, to Andy’s tales of the golf course located near Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame, and in some way, to Babe Ruth himself. It was more important for me to make that connection, to let Linda tell the story of her grandfather’s Barnstorming tour that included the Negro League players without interruptions. Interruptions like “can you repeat that” or “can you spell that name” or “what town was that again?” To let Linda explain in amazing detail and passion that her grandfather was such a deep rooted humanitarian and why we as baseball fans should all embrace the fact that Babe Ruth was comfortable sharing the field with African Americans (when others clearly were not) and was in fact taking an enormous risks (personally, professionally) to side with what he felt was the right thing to do. Linda’s eyes stared straight at me, then to Rachel, then to me as she poured over detail after detail about where Babe Ruth played, who he played with, who he respected, and who at the top of Major League Baseball disapproved of his actions. It was breathtaking drama as I listened and earned even more respect for this man many of us know an assortment baseball almanacs, documentaries, and Hollywood movies.
Andy and Linda have been married for over 40 years. They are partners in life, they finish each other sentences, they prompt stories by asking each other for the “lead-up” to the story. They travel together for the most part. Andy takes care of travel accommodations and hotel reservations and lunch dates and interviews, as if he is the travel secretary, public relations coordinator, and security agent for a celebrity. And, he admits, “It’s not the worst thing being married to Babe Ruth’s granddaughter.” Linda and Andy have been visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY for close to 40 years. At the “Hall”, they have sat with the elite of baseball history and their relatives (wives, grandkids, brothers, sisters), Andy has been in golf tournaments with the greatest baseball players of all time, and they have attended induction ceremonies. Linda has thrown out the first pitch at countless Major League baseball stadiums, including Fenway Park, and refers to Yankee legends by their first name. She joked around with Alex Rodriguez and has a really funny selfie with him on her camera. She has been in countless books and documentaries and films as a contributor and participant to talk about her grandfather. To say that Linda and Andy are Babe Ruth’s biggest fans, would be like saying “Water is wet.” They are without a doubt, two of the smartest baseball minds I have ever met in 47 years in baseball.
I did get around to some of the questions in my notebook and can share those with you or anyone you know if you would like to contact me. But I would rather proclaim this. Linda Ruth Tosetti and Andy Tosetti are two of the most genuine people (baseball or not) that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They spent nearly 3 hours with Rachel and I – talking Babe Ruth and sharing bruschetta and laughing about our dogs and our kids. We literally didn’t know how to leave each other despite taking up shop in our corner table at Bravo Bravo through the lunch crowd and into the early dinner crowd. After exchanging phone numbers and sharing photos of our families, we then proceeded out of Bravo Bravo to East Main St, where we continued for another 10 minutes or so about Linda’s passion – to commemorate Babe Ruth’s number at every Major League baseball stadium. This initiative would not remove the number “3” from any current player’s jerseys, unlike the initiative to honor Jackie Robinson’s “42”. No, Linda and Andy’s take is “Retire #3 throughout MLB. Just have it hanging in every stadium and park, and leave #3 on the field.” You can read more at www.truebaberuth.com, Linda’s website.
Linda and Andy walked Rachel and I took our car and we said “good-bye”, again. This time it was a story about Martha’s Vineyard and parking and we just laughed and laughed. Finally, we hugged and promised to get together this summer in Newport or Providence. My two new friends, Andy and Linda, filled my day with laughter and amazing stories of Babe Ruth, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and living the life of the granddaughter of arguably the greatest baseball player of all time. Words cannot begin to describe how special it was to be in their presence. I look forward to meeting them again and again.
Thank you Bravo Bravo. Thank you Andy for your awesome sense of humor and your hilarious stories about Mike Schmidt and Satchel Paige. Thank you Linda for your grace and charm and for carrying on the legacy of humanitarian kindness that your grandfather instilled in you. And Thank you to Babe Ruth for sitting with all of us on a sunny, Saturday afternoon in Mystic, CT.