Tribe Pitcher Who Yielded Babe Ruth's 500th Home Run Dead At 96

CLEVELAND (AP) - Willis Hudlin, the Cleveland Indians pitcher who gave up Babe Ruth's 500th home run, has died. He was 96.

The Indians said Tuesday that Hudlin died on Aug. 5 in Little Rock, Ark.

He spent 15 of his 16 big league seasons in Cleveland and gave up Ruth's 500th homer on Aug. 11, 1929, at League Park.

According to newspaper accounts, Ruth went to a Cleveland policeman working the game and said, "I'd kinda like to have that one."

The ball had gone all the way out of the park and landed on Lexington Avenue, where the policeman found a boy who had retrieved it. He brought the youngster into the Yankees clubhouse, where Ruth exchanged an autographed ball and a crisp $20 bill for the memento.

The homer was Ruth's 30th of the season. Lou Gehrig hit his 27th that day but the right-hander won the game 6-5, pitching a complete-game nine-hitter.

Hudlin went 157-151 for the Indians from 1926-40. His most memorable game was a one-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on June 23, 1931, in the second game of a doubleheader. Clint Brown allowed only five hits in a 13-0 Indians win in the first game. Hudlin won the second game 10-0.

Hudlin had a 158-156 career record and 154 complete games. In 1940, he became one of only eight players since 1900 to play for four teams in one season -- the Indians, Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns and New York Giants.

His 475 games pitched rank third on the Indians' all-time list between Hall of Famers Bob Feller (570) and Bob Lemon (460). His 2,557 2-3 innings rank fourth.

In 2001 he was selected to the Indians all-time top 100 team, part of the club's 100-year anniversary celebration.

Hudlin, a native of Wagoner, Okla., was a flight instructor during World War II and later became a minor league manager. He was the Detroit Tigers' pitching coach from 1957-59, and scouted for the Yankees from 1960-74.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Hilda. He was buried Friday in Hazelhurst, Miss.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)