Julia Ruth Stevens, the adopted daughter of baseball legend Babe Ruth, and one of her father’s biggest promoters, has died at the age of 102.
The New York Times noted that Stevens passed away this week in an assisted living facility in Henderson, Nevada. Stevens was the adopted daughter of Babe Ruth and his last surviving child.
Stevens was born in 1916 to mother Claire Hodgson and her husband, Frank. The couple separated when Julia was a baby, and Claire moved to New York City with her daughter. It was there that they met Babe Ruth, who Julia said seemed to be larger than life.
“I have this vague image of this huge man, who was really nice, coming to visit Mother, and he’d pick me up and set me on his lap and ask me little questions about how I was,” Julia Ruth Stevens told The Arizona Republic in 2001, via the New York Times. “If Mother and I went out with him, people just crowded around.”
Babe Ruth was married at the time, but later separated from his wife and married Claire Hodgson, adopting Julia.
Julia — who came to call him “Daddy” and still referred to him by the affectionate name up until her death — grew very close to her adopted father, going on outings in New York City. As Stevens said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal just a few weeks before her death, he taught her how to play sports like bowling and golf, and almost always won.
“Well, I always tried to beat him, not that I ever did,” she said. “He was a good bowler. Very good. As a matter of fact, I always thought to myself, ‘Whatever sport there is, polo or anything, Daddy always knew how to do it and do it well.’ “
Julia said one of her favorite memories was a trip to Japan, where Ruth was playing with a team of all-stars. Ruth decided to extend the trip after the games had ended, and Julia said it was one of the best times of her life, mostly because the people there left Ruth alone and they were able to go sightseeing in peace.
Julia Ruth Stevens, the adopted daughter of Babe Ruth, has died at 102. In her later years, she traveled around the baseball map, telling of his life beyond the ballpark. https://t.co/sVERfmqSqK— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) March 10, 2019
Later in her life, Julia Ruth Stevens became something of an ambassador for Babe Ruth’s legacy, traveling to stadiums around the league and speaking about his life and career. She represented the family at events honoring Ruth, including the unveiling of a postage stamp in his honor. Stevens, who lived in New Hampshire for many years, became a Boston Red Sox fan and openly rooted for Babe Ruth’s original team when they played the team he enjoyed most of his success with, the New York Yankees.