Baseball legend’s granddaughter visits SKHS –

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Last Friday, students in Matt Blessing’s baseball literature class witnessed some of the contents of the books they’ve been studying come to life, as they were regaled with tales of renowned baseball player Babe Ruth, straight from Ruth’s granddaughter herself.

“They’ve heard about Babe Ruth,” said Blessing, an English teacher at South Kingstown High School. “We’ve discussed him in some of the books we’ve read and film clips we’ve seen, but I want them just to see how much of a larger-than-life personality he really was.”

Linda Ruth Tosetti has been sharing stories of her grandfather for years.

“I love it,” she said. “This is how I started this journey of talking about Babe, was at schools.”

Stephen McCarty, a former math teacher at South Kingstown High School, has known Tosetti for nearly ten years, and he had approached her to see if she’d be willing to speak to students at the high school. Tosetti, who lives in central Connecticut, told McCarty she’d be happy to come for a visit.   

“For the students who really know who Babe is we typically get the ‘baseball eyes,’” Tosetti said, before making her way upstairs to Blessing’s classroom. “My mother was Dorothy Ruth Pirone, and I’m the sixth child of Dorothy, and she was Babe Ruth’s daughter,” she addressed the class, “as you can probably tell from my face.”

Students laughed at Tosetti’s uncanny resemblance to Babe Ruth.

“He was born in 1895,” Tosetti said of her grandfather, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, “and he died 68 years ago, and he’s still the talk of the town. That’s pretty cool.”

Tosetti was accompanied by her husband, Andrew, who, she said, keeps track of the statistics.

“I know more of the personal man,” said Tosetti, wearing a half-Red Sox, half-Yankees jersey, “because that’s the man who, as a granddaughter, I wanted to know.”

Tosetti never met her grandfather — he died seven years before she was born.

“Yes, I know he hit a ball,” she said, “but I wonder how he felt when he hit that ball. That’s what I’m after — that’s what I’ve been searching for.”

Tosetti said she wasn’t aware of who her grandfather was until she was in the eighth grade; her mother had worried her children may end up getting kidnapped if word were to get out.  

“Then, slowly but surely, I started asking her questions.” Tosetti said she has gotten to know her grandfather through the firsthand accounts of those who knew him personally.

As anecdotes and character references have filtered in over the years, Tosetti has been able to slowly piece together the Babe Ruth puzzle. Tosetti told the students that when she was asked one day whether her grandfather had any prejudice toward minorities, she didn’t know how to answer.

“I didn’t think he was prejudice, but it was so prevalent in that time, he could have been,” she said. “Then not three months later, we went to [the National Baseball Hall of Fame] and they said, ‘do you want to meet the oldest living ballplayer?’ And sitting in front of me was Double Duty Radcliffe, a Negro League player. And he said, ‘you know what, your granddaddy and I were best friends.’”

She added that her grandfather had been an advocate for the Negro League baseball players.

“If you played baseball, you were OK with Babe,” Tosetti said, “and he knew that people took advantage of him, but he didn’t care. You did a favor for him, he did two for you. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”

Tosetti passed around a bat weighing over 40 ounces to give students an idea of the bat Babe Ruth used as he stepped up to the plate.

“He wrote the blueprint for home runs,” Tosetti told the class.

Students were shocked at how heavy it was — by comparison, the average baseball bat today weighs around 30 ounces.

“It’s pretty cool to see someone who’s actually related to Babe Ruth,” said senior Cameron Neary, as he held the bat against his shoulder.

Upon leaving the baseball literature class, Tosetti was stopped in the hallway by Jerilyn DeLuca-Hawk, an English teacher at the high school. The students in her film class had insisted that DeLuca-Hawk bring Tosetti into the class. Tosetti signed a New York Yankees baseball for DeLuca-Hawk, a Yankees fanatic, and shared details about her grandfather to the curious students during her impromptu visit to the film class.

There was no way Tosetti could have painted a complete portrait of Babe Ruth within the two hours she was at South Kingstown High School — it has taken her nearly half a century to accumulate the hundreds of stories and tidbits she has about Babe — but she said she was happy to have been able to share a glimpse of her grandfather with the students.

“Babe Ruth has never disappointed me,” said Andrew Tosetti as he walked with his wife into the school parking lot at the end of their visit. “The thing about Babe Ruth is, once you think you have him figured out, there’s another tentacle. And he really has become like one of my best friends.”


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