Babe Ruth plays ball in Vancouver then departs on the Empress of Japan for a tour of Japan
Why was this painting produced? John painted this image for a client who had accumulated a number of items of memorabilia – menus from the voyage, baseball gloves and balls and a letter from the Ship’s captain. This painting was produced to tell the story of this fabulous time in baseball’s history and to marry the visit to Vancouver, the game, and the departure of Babe and his cohorts on the Empress of Japan from the old Pier BC, which is now of course Canada Place, for a ball playing tour of Japan.
Notes copied from the Vancouver Sun website dated October 18, 1934 – If you were a rabid baseball fan waiting at the CPR station in Vancouver October 18, 1934, you might have had trouble breathing. Stepping down from the train that day were Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Charlie Gehringer, Heinie Manush, Lefty O’Doul, manager Connie Mack and more than a dozen other superstars of the game. They’d come to play an exhibition game at Athletic Park, which stood at West 6th and Hemlock.
The Babe’s team was called “Babe Ruth’s All Americans,” and they would play the “American League All-Stars.” (Off-season barnstorming like this of squads made up of players from various teams was eventually stopped.) Three thousand fans showed up the next day in pelting rain that lasted the whole game, with the field ankle-deep in mud, but the players—the Babe included—stayed, and so did the crowd. Said Lefty O’Doul in the dugout, “Say, this is some baseball town, isn’t it? Back in Portland there weren’t five hundred out and on a bright and sunny day.”
Ruth, who had hit 60 home runs for the Yankees a couple of years earlier, told the Sun’s Hal Straight that nobody would ever hit 60 again.
Notes following were copied from the CPR web site – The Empress of Japan carried out her sea trial successfully in May 1930, achieving a top speed of 23 knots; and on 8 June 1930, she was delivered to Vancouver for service on the trans-Pacific route. In this period, she was the fastest ocean liner on the Pacific. Due to being a part of Canadian Pacific’s service carrying Royal Mail, the Empress of Japan carried the RMS (Royal Mail Ship) prefix in front of her name while in commercial service with Canadian Pacific.
She would continue sailing the Vancouver-Yokohama-Kobe-Shanghai-Hong Kong route for the rest of the decade. Amongst her celebrity passengers were a number of American baseball all-stars, including Babe Ruth, who sailed aboard the Empress of Japan in October 1934 en route to Japan.