The Bambino shit his pants in the top of the third but it wasn’t his fault- he had guzzled seven beer in the bottom of the second.
The bat boys were well-trained in how to handle this. It wasn’t the first time the Babe had befouled his trousers. The clubhouse wall in Yankee Stadium was lined with immaculate backup jumbo pinstripe uniforms- number 3- and a spray bottle of linen-scented perfumed water. There was also a stretcher, a Priest, and a stomach pump nearby, because you just never knew, not with Babe Ruth.
The bat boys set to work like a team of trained elves, redressing Ruth and reorienting him to Earth’s gravity while the Babe mumbled a curse on Calvin Coolidge. The moist towelettes on the floor of the dugout were stained with dark shame, and Miller Huggins- the Yankee manager- watched the scene with a mixture of sickness and disgust. At times like these Huggins just wanted to shoot the bloated oaf with the hunting rifle he kept in the back of his Model A. Unfortunately Yankee ownership had nixed the idea, reminding him of Ruth’s 171 RBI’s the previous season. They felt it made good sense to keep him around.
Babe had one finger up his nostril and the other in the air, wheeling in circles, humming a song with no melody, punctuating the tune with blasts of gas so powerfully dank that they singed the seat of his pants. One of the bat boys put his fingers to his nose to indicate PU, and little did he know that when the Babe’s bitter wind reached his lungs he would lose sight in both eyes for the next twelve years.
Just then Babe spotted the Hot Dog Boy, on-field, pushing his cart up the first-base line. Babe, always starving, raised five fingers to indicate “Five dogs, please.” The Hot Dog Boy was only seven, and his tiny fingers quickly went to work, prepping the wieners the way Babe liked them: with bacon and relish, ketchup and mustard, chili and kraut and slaw and seafood salad on top. Babe devoured the dogs as quickly as the kid fixed them, twice nearly choking on soggy bun, doing his best to avoid vomiting on the field for the second time today. The Umpire had warned him about that.
Huggins signaled the Hot Dog boy from across the diamond: two brushes down his forearm, a pinch of his earlobe and three staccato claps- the indicator- before swiping his pinky across his throat: Babe was cut off. The Hot Dog Boy- eyes wide- looked up at the hulking baseball god before him, still wolfing down his dogs and ordering five more with his free hand. The boy looked back to Huggins- pinky throat again- and the message was clear: no more hot dogs for the Babe.
“Gimme,” said the Sultan of Swat, swallowing.
“I can’t do it, Mr. Root- dey won’t let me sells you no more!” The Bronx, remember?
“I said ‘Gimme!’” howled Babe, furious and hungry.
Huggins shot the Boy a dirty look, and he swallowed hard, looking up as Babe's enormous frame blocked the sun from the sky. The Boy thought fast: “How about you hit me a home run, Mr. Root? If you hit me a homer I’ll give you hot dogs till you drop!”
Babe swallowed, huffing. He looked out at the centerfield wall and rustled the Hot Dog Boy’s hair, which had been falling out in stacks since he got the job.
“One homer and then all the wieners I can eat?” Babe smiled. “Okay, kid, you got a deal.”
Babe picked up his bat and waddled over to the box, taking his stance and a practice swing. The Hot Dog Boy said a silent prayer that his appendix would somehow magically burst and kill him instantly, while the plump franks soaked in their steam bath, bursting with flavor and anticipation. The fans greeted Babe with a round of applause as the pitcher Walter Johnson went into his windup.
The first pitch came sailing from the mound and Babe swung through, missing by a country mile and cursing in words too dirty for the papers. Some of the Mothers in the front row jammed ballpoint pens into their children’s ears in an attempt to keep the profanity out.
The Hot Dog Boy winced, crossing his fingers. The fans groaned in frustration.
Babe looked over at the boy’s cart, licking his lips. He was so distracted by the promise of brown mustard on sausage that he didn’t notice the second fastball come roaring past, and by the time Babe turned to face the plate the ball was already cracking in the catcher’s mitt. The sound echoed throughout the House That Immigrant Construction Workers Had Built For Him To Play Inside.
The Hot Dog Boy tried to swallow, his mouth too dry, his hands unsteady. If Ruth homered he'd demand more hot dogs, and the boy would surely be sacked. If the slugger struck out he'd surely take out his rage on the wiener boy, leaving the lad in a no-win situation. These were the days he regretted dropping out of grade school.
The sun was beaming easy on the stadium, just another day in a Summer so perfect that no one was keeping score. Babe dug in, kicking up dirt, and turned from the box to give the Boy a grin closer to a wink. Finally he faced the pitcher and reared back with his bat. Miller Huggins went into the clubhouse to load his Winchester.
Johnson checked the signs from his catcher, shaking him off once- twice- and then he saw what he wanted and smiled… He stepped slowly, going into his windup…
Babe Ruth, distracted and famished, wandered out of the batter’s box before the pitch left the mound, beating the Hot Dog Boy to death with his Louisville Slugger. The child was pulped beyond recognition, so not even his Mother could identify the remains in the morgue. She would later sell the body to Ralston-Purina for fifteen cents.
Back at the stadium, Babe took off his pants, sat down on the first base line and gobbled hot dogs until he lost consciousness.
The game was called on account of gluttony.