Julia Ruth Stevens, 1916–2019
The proud daughter who built a baseball legacy
Stevens was born in Athens, Ga., to Claire and Frank Hodgson, said The New York Times. Her parents separated when she was a baby, and Claire and Stevens moved to New York. Claire met Ruth in 1923. After Ruth’s first wife, Helen, died, Ruth married Claire “on opening day of the 1929 baseball season” and adopted Julia. When she graduated from high school in 1934, he flew home from St. Louis to celebrate, said The Boston Globe, and gifted her a round-the-world trip that began with a sea voyage to Japan, where Ruth was barnstorming. A few years later when Julia was ill, Ruth again returned to New York, this time giving her a blood transfusion that her mother credited with saving her life. After Ruth retired, he’d wake Stevens at dawn, cook fried bologna and egg sandwiches, and take his daughter golfing. “I couldn’t have had a better father than him,” she said.
Stevens “made it her mission to champion her father and his legacy,” said The Washington Post. She threw out first pitches well into her 90s and attended Hall of Fame inductions. But she refused to participate in ceremonies marking Barry Bonds’ surpassing of Ruth’s home run tally, because of his suspected steroid use. Stevens met her own husband on a trip to New Hampshire with her father. She eventually settled in New England and became an avid fan of the Red Sox—the team that had traded her father to the Yankees in 1920 and in return suffered the 86-year “Curse of the Bambino.” ■