I went to the files to pull the cite for my quote on the Babe yelling at Cleveland groundskeeper Emil Bossard which, as Deanna put it, would have to occur before Bossard’s hiring is generally placed (see here for more).
“Emil Bossard: He was an artist in his field,” The Cleveland Press, May 8, 1980, p C1
There was the great Babe Ruth who looked upon Emil like an opposing pitcher at old League Park. “Give us a break,” The Babe bellowed at Emil, who made a quagmire in right field where Ruth played and softened home plate, not allowing him a toe-hold.
League Park opened April 21, 1910, and the Indians played there through 1946. Bossard, on the generally accepted timeline, was hired on or about the 1936 season, which means that he was indeed the groundskeeper there, and also that Ruth would have played there (often, from 1914 until moving to the NL in 1935). The article even later cites 1936 as Bossard’s hire date.
Nothing in that article clears up how Ruth could have been at League Park while Bossard was a groundskeeper, and the 1936 date cited seems to contradict the alternate history where “Bossard moved the fences around in the 1920s and 1930s”. If nothing else, I’ll be reassured that no less a writer than Bob Sudyk, while in Cleveland, bit on this, like I would over a quarter-century later.
Interestingly, in the article, Veeck repeats the story that Bossard moved the fences. But here’s the thing about that — Veeck didn’t buy into the Indians until 1946. And in the rest of the article, while there are many incidents described, they all place Bossard’s antics post-1936. Bossard, for what it’s worth, denied Veeck’s story (“That would be against the rules.”) in other articles I found.
I’m a little disappointed that pulling the original article didn’t offer more specific information on the Ruth incident, but the context of the whole article makes me even more skeptical that it happened at all. If Emil Bossard started in the 1920s and there were an extra ten years of hijinks at least, wouldn’t there be at least one good, verifiable incident that would put him in Cleveland during those years, somewhere. But I haven’t found any yet.
Fun side connection: the author of this article, Bob Sudyk, wrote Gaylord Perry’s autobiography Me and the Spitter, one of the best cheating books ever written (check out the book here).