Two home runs. Two common threads.
In October 2015, Kyle Schwarber hit a mammoth home run to help the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. The ball landed on top of the right-field video board at Wrigley Field, and the Cubs left it there.
In October 1932, Babe Ruth is said to have “called his shot” and hit a home run in Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field.
Ruth’s home run is the stuff of legend. Schwarber, perhaps because of his 6-foot, 235-pound body and powerful swing, has drawn some comparisons to the Babe. The home run against the Cardinals and Schwarber’s comeback last year from major knee surgery have created a small legend of their own.
Schwarber, 24, hails from Middletown, Ohio. The pitcher who gave up Ruth’s “called shot” was Charlie Root.
“He was from Middletown, let me guess,” Schwarber said. “Really? It’s a small world.”
Middletown is a city of just fewer than 50,000 people between Cincinnati and Dayton. Despite its size, Middletown has turned out more than its share of prominent athletes in addition to Schwarber and Root.
Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas won a state high school championship, an NCAA title at Ohio State, an Olympic gold medal and an NBA championship.
Kayla Harrison won Olympic gold medals for judo in 2012 and 2016.
Football players from Middletown have included Hall of Famer Cris Carter, former Bears safety Todd Bell and current New York Jets player Jalin Marshall.
As for Schwarber, he said he never would do something as audacious as calling his shot. (Root always maintained Ruth didn’t do it either and that the Babe might have taken a pitch from Root in the ribs if he had.)
“That’s a little bit too much out of my league right there,” Schwarber said. “I’ll take the home runs when they come. I don’t think that I would ever do that.”
As for his own “legend,” Schwarber seems to enjoy it while taking it in stride.
“Me, as I am, I really don’t want to take it to heart,” he said. “If you take it to heart, you start getting a big head, and you won’t be the teammate that you want to be. I think it’s really cool that fans look at me that way. Your goal as a baseball player is to, obviously, one, go out there and win. But, two, be loved by your city that you play for.
“I feel that just being able to have the fans see me playing, see the way that they see me grind it throughout the injury to make it back, thing like that, I feel like I’m going in the right direction there.”