Heartbreaking Loss For Greensboro Grasshoppers
The name on the front of the jerseys says Grasshoppers, but anybody who’s seen even one game in Greensboro knows that more for than a decade the franchise’s faces have had soft black fur, a wet nose and a pair of floppy ears.
On Friday night, Miss Babe Ruth, the first in the team’s line of three black Labrador batdogs, died after a battle with cancer that had left her partially paralyzed. She was 12 years old, and had spent most of her life entertaining fans at First National Bank Field.
“This is a heartbreaking loss for our organization, our fans, and the Greensboro community,” Grasshoppers President and General Manager Donald Moore said. “Babe has been a fan-favorite for well over a decade at First National Bank Field. We are deeply saddened by her death.”
The news comes nine months after the Grasshoppers lost Master Yogi Berra, the middle of the team’s batdog trio, to cancer.
More than a batdog, Miss Babe Ruth was a piece of living, breathing, barking history. A statue of her stands in front of the ballpark. Her image appears on a Grasshoppers truck, and in plenty of other places throughout the stadium.
And in 2016, after her retirement from active duties as a batdog, the Grasshoppers donated her green and orange bucket, which she used to bring new baseballs to the home plate umpire to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It was displayed there through the end of the 2017 season.
Even after her retirement, Miss Babe remained a part of the Grasshoppers’ experience. When she wasn’t on the field, she could be found roaming the concourse with members of team staff, greeting fans and putting smiles on fans’ faces all night long.
“I want to thank all of the people who have kept Babe in their prayers since she was diagnosed with cancer,” Moore said. “Even though we are devastated by this loss, we know she is happy retrieving bats and balls with Yogi in heaven.”
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The team has asked that any donations in Miss Babe’s memory be made to either the Babe and Yogi Scholarship Endowment at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, 1060 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, N.C. 27607 or to Greensboro Grasshoppers Charities, c/o the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, 330 South Greene Street, Suite 100, Greensboro, NC 27401.
The scholarship at N.C. State is earmarked for Guilford County residents who are Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students at the University. Funds from the Grasshoppers Charities donations will go to establishing permanent memorials of Babe and Yogi at First National Bank Field.
On the night of her retirement in 2016, the Grasshoppers gave Miss Babe a farewell fit for a queen. Red carpets were rolled out. Team staff members were dressed to the nines. The guest of honor was driven onto the field in a classic car before “throwing” out the game’s first pitch.
Even with Miss Babe and Master Yogi gone, the Grasshoppers’ tradition of dedicated, high-energy batdogs remains with Miss Babe’s niece, Miss Lou Lou Gehrig. Just like her aunt, Miss Lou Lou is laser focused when she’s on the field, sitting next to the Grasshoppers’ dugout behind her protective wall, anxiously waiting for the at-bat to end so she can bounce her way to home plate and retrieve the discarded bat.
But that’s not all. The postgame belongs to Miss Lou Lou too. After a recent game in Greensboro, Miss Lou Lou could be heard all the way from the press box barking at the opposing players while they were going through postgame handshakes before heading to the clubhouse.
The game was over, which meant, even though the Grasshoppers had lost, it was time for a trip around the bases, making sure to boop each bag with her nose along the way. It’s a Greensboro batdog tradition, after all, started by the great Miss Babe.