Posts tagged Conway Street

The Goddess “Gentlemen’s Club” – The Bar That Ruth Bought

Chances are most baseball fans who park north of Camden Yards in the garages on Eutaw Street do not know the historical significance of the building they pass just before crossing Lombard Street on the way towards Camden Yards. That building, which currently houses The Goddess, a self-proclaimed “Gentlemen’s Club,” was once owned by Babe Ruth, and the sidewalk outside the building is where Ruth’s father died after injuries he sustained while trying to break up a brawl.

The Goddess Gentleman's Club

The Goddess Gentlemen’s Club

“The past exists all around us, you just have to know where to look.” This has been my motto for years and is one of the themes running through my book Deadball, A Metaphysical Baseball Novel. Babe Ruth’s ties to Maryland are a good example of this theme, from the house where he was born, to the orphanage and baseball field where he grew up, to the Catholic church where he was married. Other places tied to the Babe, while equally notable, are a little more difficult to detect, such as the home field where he played for the International League Baltimore Orioles, which is now a McDonald’s restaurant.

Goddess Gentleman's Club With Camden Yards Scoreboard in Background

Goddess Gentlemen’s Club With Camden Yards Scoreboard in Background

The same is true for the three-story building located at  38 South Eutaw Street. In 1915, Ruth’s Boston Red Sox won the World Series and legend has it that Ruth took part of his World Series earnings and purchased the building as a bar for his father, which became known as “Ruth’s Cafe.” Babe Ruth and his wife Helen lived above the bar on the second floor of the building during that following winter.

The Goddess, Located Across the Street from the Bromo Seltzer Tower

The only known photograph of the Babe and his father was taken inside the building in December 1915. Babe is seen standing behind the bar in the center of the photograph while his father, dressed in the same bartenders attire, is standing to the right. It being the Christmas season, the bar is decorated with ornaments and tinsel.

Ruth and His Father (Photograph by Vincent Velzis)

Just two plus years after Ruth purchased the building, tragedy struck as Ruth’s father died in the street outside the building. The brawl he tried to break up is said to have involved one of his relatives.

The Mean Streets of Baltimore – Where Babe Ruth’s Father Died

Ruth’s Cafe on Eutaw Street should not be confused with another establishment of the same name which Ruth’s father ran on West Conway Street.   Prior to the construction of Camden Yards, Conway Street street ran northeast across what is now home plate, through the pitcher’s mound and second base, and across center field towards the green batters eye behind center field.

The memory of Ruth’s Cafe is honored at Oriole Park’s Budweiser Patio on Eutaw Street.

Budweiser Patio on Eutaw Street, with Plaque Honoring Babe Ruth

A plaque on the side of the Budweiser Patio honors Babe Ruth. It was erected by the “Old Timer’s Baseball Association of Maryland” although its age and appearance suggest it was relocated from another venue.

Babe Ruth Plaque at Camden Yards

The sign next to the Babe Ruth plaque relates a short history of the Ruth’s Cafe on Conway Street.

Camden Yard Sign Noting History of Conway Street Pub

A section of West Conway Street remains just southwest of Oriole Park and a sign for the street is located on Russell Street across from the main ballpark entrance at  Schaefer Circle.

Intersection of West Conway Street and Russell Street

When the State of Maryland excavated the area during construction of Camden Yards, bricks from the building at 406 West Conway Street were unearthed and one is now on display at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum.

Center Field at Camden Yards, Former Location of Babe’s Cafe

Yes, the past is all around us. We just need to know where to look. Should you find yourself making your way down Eutaw Street on the way to Camden Yards, be sure to stop at the Goddess and take a moment to appreciate it’s historical significance. Of course, it being a strip club, I will leave it to you to decide whether the building is better appreciated from the outside, as opposed to from inside the establishment.

Ellicott City’s St. Paul’s Catholic Church – Where Babe Ruth Got Married

Babe Ruth spent the majority of his formative years as a ward of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, an orphanage and reform school run by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. His parents signed him over to the Xaverian Brothers out of desperation when he was just eight or nine years old. In 1914, Ruth left St. Mary’s to begin his professional baseball career, playing first for the International League Baltimore Orioles, before being sold to the Boston Red Sox organization. He made his major league debut in July of that year and ended the season with the International League Providence Grays.

1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth Rookie Card

While in Boston, Ruth fell in love with Helen Woodford, a waitress he had met at a local diner. Once the baseball season was over, Ruth returned to Baltimore with Woodford. Ruth asked and received permission from his father to get married. On October 14, 1914, Ruth and Woodford were married at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, located about 12 miles west of downtown Baltimore.

St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Located at 3755 St. Paul Street in Ellicott City, Maryland

Ellicott City was named after brothers Andrew and John Ellicott, who founded Ellicott Mills along the banks of the Patapsco River in the 1770’s.  In the 1800’s the town grew to be a prosperous mill town, one of the largest in the state.

View of St. Paul’s Catholic Church from St. Paul Street

In 1838, the Archdiocese of Baltimore constructed St. Paul’s Church on land purchased from the Ellicott family. At the time of its construction, St. Paul’s was the only Catholic Church located in Maryland between Baltimore and Frederick. St. Paul’s is perched on a hill overlooking Main Street. A tall, grey granite steeple at the front of the building offers entry to the church on three sides. Ornamental rose windows adorn the steeple above the three separate entrances, each with a set of green painted doors.

Interior of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Where Babe Ruth Married his First Wife Helen

Although much of the church building on the outside appears as it did at the time Ruth was married there, an addition to the front of the church expanded the area housing the altar and the tabernacle.

St. Paul’s Catholic Church Nave.

During their wedding ceremony, Babe and Helen Ruth stood just in front of the first row of pews.

Detail of a Rose Window Over One of the Front Doors of St. Paul’s Church

The couple was married in a simple ceremony by Father Thomas Dolan. The only people in attendance other than the priest and the young couple were two members of the Church, one being Father Dolan’s sister.

Side Entrance to St. Paul’s Church from the East

After the wedding, the newlyweds lived for the winter in Baltimore, above a tavern operated by Babe Ruth’s father on Conway Street, which now is center field at Oriole Park (not to be confused with a second Ruth bar (now known as the Goddess Gentlemen’s Club)).

Staircase on Which the Fictional Byron Bennett Was Sitting When He Saw Babe and Helen Ruth Exit St. Paul’s Church

In my book Deadball, A Metaphysical Baseball Novel, the protagonist, Byron Bennett, recounts an episode that happened to him when, as a boy, he paid a visit to St. Paul’s Church:

“Byron and (his dog) Miss Tree climbed up the 20 worn, granite steps – Byron counted each one – which led from the sidewalk to the church’s east entrance, and took seats on the top step. While Byron was watching a train approach the B&O Railroad station that bordered the city’s east side, the church doors burst open behind him and a young couple appeared, arm in arm, smiling and laughing.”

Doors From Babe and Helen Ruth Would Have Exited St. Paul’s Church

“The sound of a pipe organ playing Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” emanated from inside the church. The commotion startled Miss Tree and she began barking. Byron scooted to the side of the step, pulling Miss Tree along with him, and put his hands around her mouth in a failed attempt to silence her.”

Entrance to St. Paul’s Catholic Church Looking West Toward B&O Railroad Station

“Byron looked up at the couple as they passed. The groom towered over him, dwarfing his small frame. With his thick lips, wide nose, and olive complexion, the man looked like a young Babe Ruth. . . . Byron waved to the couple as they descended the steps. The groom turned around and gave him a wink. Miss Tree continued barking. In the small parking lot at the base of the church steps there appeared a Packard S-38 touring car with thick white-wall tires and an open roof. Byron watched as the happy couple slid into the back seat and the car roared out of the parking lot, disappearing as if evaporating into the air before it reached Main Street.”

West Entrance to St. Paul’s Church

“After staring for a moment in disbelief, he stood up, still confused as to what he had seen, and looked down at Miss Tree, who appeared equally confused. ‘Did you see that?’ Byron asked his attentive companion. Byron walked over to the church entrance, pulling several times on its worn, cylinder-shaped brass door handles, but they were locked. He knocked, but no one answered. Abandoning the doors facing east, Byron ran down the 20 granite steps, past the entrance to the church basement, around to the other side of the steeple, and up another 21 granite steps – he counted each one – to the doors facing west. Miss Tree followed suit, barking all the way. Byron pulled on the handles, but those doors were locked as well.”

St. Paul’s Catholic Church and Rectory

If you are a fan of the game and you find yourself in or near Ellicott City, be sure to stop by St. Paul’s Church to see where Babe Ruth got married. Although there is no guarantee that you too will encounter the Babe during your visit, you will get a sense of the man, for his legend lives large in Ellicott City, just as it does in Baltimore, Boston, and New York. And, in case you were wondering about Byron’s dog, his name is a tribute to the day Miss Tree, a stray, first showed up at Byron’s house. Byron’s parents tried without success to locate the dog’s owner and, unable to solve the mystery, named her as such and let Byron keep her. Byron, then a small boy, pronounced her name with two, not three, syllables.

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