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Few visit Babe's grave to celebrate
10/28/2004 2:04 PM ET
VALHALLA, N.Y. -- It was 11:40 p.m. ET when the Red Sox stormed the field Wednesday night at Busch Stadium, celebrating their first World Series title in 86 years.

Around the same time at the Kensico Cemetery, in a quiet Westchester County community, the moon emerged from a lunar eclipse, bathing the open field in a brilliant light. It seemed only fitting that a light was shining down on Harry Frazee and somewhere, the baseball owner turned Broadway financier could finally rest in peace, no longer the scourge of the Red Sox Nation.

The Curse of the Bambino had ended and the man responsible for nearly nine decades of baseball suffering in New England was at last off the hook. Frazee is buried about a half-mile from Babe Ruth, whose final resting place at The Gates of Heaven Cemetery, in the neighboring town of Hawthorne, has been the site of countless visitors.

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Yankee fans had been going to Ruth's grave for decades, urging his spirit or his memory or whatever other celestial force they could imagine was responsible to keep the curse alive. Red Sox fans also made the pilgrimage, hoping the Bambino would finally win one for them. But on Thursday morning, as baseball fans in New England celebrated what generations before them were never able to celebrate, the graves of the two principal figures in The Curse were going unvisited.

No one bothered to stop by and offer Frazee a final sendoff, releasing him from 86 years of purgatory, 86 years of being Boston's version of a four-letter word. A plain sarcophagus, which simply bears his name and no reference to the Red Sox or the Yankees or Babe Ruth, lay unadorned and untouched, looking very much the way it did when Frazee was laid to rest in 1929, less than a decade after he sold Ruth to the Bombers. Frazee reportedly used the money he got for Ruth to finance his play "No, No Nanette".

"There was one guy here last week when the Red Sox beat the Yankees," said Mauro Scipioni, the assistant superintendent at Kensico for the last 43 years. "We took one guy out here to see it but that was it. Sometimes they come in the summer but that's mostly to see Lou Gehrig's [nearby] grave."

As for Ruth, many Red Sox fans apparently thought beating the Yankees was enough of a treat, proving that the curse was truly ended. Wednesday's victory in St. Louis officially ended any such talk of curses but if The Nation was truly in the thankful mood, they weren't showing it. There were more reporters than fans at The Babe's grave Thursday morning, looking for stories, quotes and curiosity seekers. They got almost none.

There were the usual decorations on Ruth's grave, a worn Red Sox cap and a Yankees batting helmet, some pennies and notes, even a ham sandwich in which the local wildlife seemed to have partaken. There was a large pumpkin with Ruth's No. 3 scratched in black marker, the words underneath it reading, "Bambino don't let us down, the curse must go on."

But the Babe, it seems, took a few weeks off this autumn, leaving the Bombers and their fans to fend for themselves.

"Whether it continues now remains to be seen. Local Sox fans showed up as a curiosity. Maybe now they think the curse is safe. I'm curious about next year, if Yankee fans will come back and try and reverse the reverse."
-- Bill Lane
Gates of Heaven Cemetery

"I'm glad they won," said Bill Lane, the assistant superintendent at the 225-acre Gates of Heaven. "Mostly, though, because I'm a Mets fan. There were a lot less people here this year, though, than there were last year. We had some people here last week after the Yankees lost to Boston but it wasn't as much as when the Yankees won to keep the curse going.

"There were a lot of people here last week for Game 7 against Boston but maybe only three or four people came today. People wanted to be part of it during the Red Sox series and we checked the grave every day to make sure no one left anything objectionable. And we have security guards going around at night to make sure nothing strange is going on."

Lane said that several interesting items left last week were washed away with a weekend rain. One was a newspaper photo of Ruth with a tear running down his face. Another was a box of tissues with a note, "Wipe your tears Babe, we'll get them next year."

"It's kind of funny some of the things people believe," Lane said. "Whether it continues now remains to be seen. Local Sox fans showed up as a curiosity. Maybe now they think the curse is safe. I'm curious about next year, if Yankee fans will come back and try and reverse the reverse."

Bob Lane, an auto parts salesman from Patterson, N.Y., was the lone fan to arrive at Ruth's grave through the early part of Thursday morning. And, he wasn't even there for himself. Lane showed up to take pictures of the grave to egg on his boss and one of his co-workers, a Yankee and Red Sox fan, respectively.

"The guys I work with are pretty hardcore," he said. "I'm just here for them."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.