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He saw The Babe play ball in Sleepy Eye

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#1 Platoon


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Posted 02 November 2018 - 04:41 PM

I knew the story of The Babe playing ball in Sleepy Eye those many years ago is fairly well know. But the fact that there was a surviving spectator, especially one with Babe's autograph on a HR ball wasn't known until a few years ago. At least not well known. Randy Kryzmarzick wrote in the New Ulm Journal about himself and a couple friends driving to Virginia, MN and visiting Mr. Youngman. He said it was a wonderful experience. Enough so that they went several more times, just to chat. His column on the visit was wonderful reading. Regrettably I don't have access to either the column, or the picture that was attached to this article. It didn't copy and paste. Regardless, it's a good read about someone who apparently lived a full life, with a sound mind to the end.

SLEEPY EYE — A 107-year-old Sleepy Eye native photographed with New York Yankees players Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel at Sleepy Eye Baseball Park in 1922, died Oct. 16 on the 96th anniversary of the major league baseball player barnstorming game with local stars.

On a chilly day at age 11, Leonard Youngman chased down a home run ball hit by Ruth on Oct. 16, 1922. He can be seen on a photograph, standing between Meusel and Ruth, amidst a band that was part of the event.

Perhaps it was what Youngman did away from baseball that really set him apart.

Youngman defied his age and served others in his life. He was cited for volunteering at the Virginia hospital for 25 years and served as a eucharistic minister and reading at the nursing home Mass at 105. He lived in his Virginia home from 1950 until just a few months ago.

In addition, Youngman said he felt volunteering was better than sitting home by himself. He said he wanted to serve God, live a clean life and that he enjoyed life. He said his mother told him that in order to have friends, he had to be one.

Youngman said he didn’t take any pills until age 104.

On that chilly day in Sleepy Eye in 1922, Youngman was playing with friends behind the outfield fence at Sleepy Eye Baseball Park when Ruth hit his one of his two homers.

Youngman said he heard the large crowd at the game yelling before he saw the ball fly over the fence. He grabbed the ball, got Ruth to autograph it, and kept it over the years.

Youngman moved from Sleepy Eye in 1940 after getting a sales job with the George A. Hormel meat company. He and his wife Millie (Mathilda) Hillesheim were married for 59 years before she died in 1997. They had three sons, David, James and Robert, seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren, and a sister, Marge Sykes.

Several years ago, Leonard’s grandson Joel received the autographed baseball from his grandpa as a gift and recognized a story done by Fox Sports North’s Pat Fischer.

Joel contacted Sleepy Eye Area Historical Society Board President Randy Krzmarzick and told him his grandpa was in the photo of Ruth and Meusel taken in Sleepy Eye in 1922.

Several years ago, Krzmarzick and Sleepy Eye baseball enthusiasts Dean Brinkman and Scott Surprenant were featured with the Youngmans in Virginia on KARE 11’s “Land of 10,000 Stories” with Boyd Huppert. The report won a regional Emmy award in February 2016.

Brinkman talked about how he felt traveling to Virginia with Krzmarzick and Surprenant to visit Youngman.

“From the minute we met him, it became an instant friendship,” Brinkman said. “I know he enjoyed reliving his Sleepy Eye days with us. We sure enjoyed reliving them with him! His photographic memory and attention to detail is impeccable. His wonderful sense of humor, kindness and caring for others was truly remarkable. The three trips in three years were not enough, but for that, we are grateful.”

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com
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#2 Nine of twelve

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Posted 02 November 2018 - 05:32 PM

This is so cool.

#3 sampleSizeOfOne



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Posted 27 November 2018 - 11:55 AM

This is so cool.


Thanks, Platoon for posting it!