Celebrate Babe Ruth’s birthday at Nemo’s Bar in Corktown on February 2

The annual Babe Ruth birthday party bash will be at Nemo’s Bar in Corktown on February 2, starting at 7:14 PM.

He was known as “the Babe”, “the Sultan of Swat”, “the Colossus of Clout”, “the Great Bambino”, and “the King of Crash,” while becoming one of the most famous American figures of the 20th century.

And if you know of any other nicknames for George Herman Ruth, arguably baseball’s greatest figure, you just might want to share them at the 26th Annual Babe Ruth Birthday Bash to be held at Nemo’s Bar in Corktown on Saturday, February 2, beginning at 7:14 PM (of course).

Nemo’s Bar, once ranked the #3 sports bar in America by Sports Illustrated is located at 1384 Michigan Avenue, just a block east of the Tiger Stadium site.

Nemo’s will be completely decked out in Babe Ruth photographs, famous quotations, and other memorabilia. In honor of the Babe, the beer will flow and there will be plenty of free hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, Baby Ruth candy bars, and a birthday cake.

Best of all, there’s no cover charge.

Denny McLain, the two- time Cy Young Award winner, American League MVP, 1968 World Series champion, and the last pitcher to win 30 games in a season will be on hand and available to sign free autographs (one per person please). Denny will take part in a Q & A session about his baseball memories, plus, his take on today’s Tigers. Denny will also have copies of his autobiography, I Told You I Wasn’t Perfect, available for sale.

And while admission is free, this year, patrons will have an opportunity to make a contribution to support ALS of Michigan, a local organization that provides support to patients and families suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named after Babe Ruth’s famous teammate who died of the disease in 1941.

Two years earlier on May 2, 1939, Gehrig ended his then-record consecutive games played streak just down the street from Nemo’s at Briggs Stadium. Gehrig, who had been noticeably weaker and not the same ballplayer all season, took the lineup card out to the shocked umpires before the game. The Briggs Stadium announcer told the fans, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first time Lou Gehrig’s name will not appear on the Yankee lineup in 2,130 consecutive games.”

The fans gave the handsome Yankees slugger a standing ovation before he took his place on the visitor’s bench with tears in his eyes. A wire service photograph of Gehrig reclining against the dugout steps with a stoic expression appeared the next day in newspapers around the nation.

The area surrounding Nemo’s is Ruth country. The Babe arrived with his teammates at the Michigan Central Depot just west of the ballpark and stayed many nights carousing at the Book Cadillac Hotel just a few blocks east of the bar.

Baseball’s most legendary player loved Detroit, including it’s beer, hot dogs, saloons, women (not sure what order) and of course Navin Field at Michigan and Trumbull where he hit two of his most famous home runs.

On June 8, 1926, he reportedly hit what is believed to be the longest home run in major league history when he sent a Lil Stoner pitch high over the center field grandstands onto Plum Street. Officially measured at 626 feet, it reportedly then rolled a couple of blocks until a kid on a bike caught up with it, an estimated 850 feet from home plate.

Eight years later, in his final season with the Yankees, Ruth hit his 700th career home run off of Tommy Bridges on July 13, 1934. This February 6 will be the Sultan of Swat’s 118th birthday.

Tom Derry, who for the past three years has maintained the Tiger Stadium field with a group of volunteers called “The Navin Field Grounds Crew”, started this party in 1988 at a bar on Grand River. Just 12 people showed up that time, but last year several hundred were in attendance.

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About Bill Dow

Bill Dow has written numerous articles on Detroit sports history as a regular freelance contributor to the Detroit Free Press sports page, and some of his work has been published in Baseball Digest magazine. He also wrote the Afterword to the latest editions of George Plimpton’s book Paper Lion.