"Feels just right, fellas," Ruth said, lifting the bat for photographers.

The popping of flashbulbs intensified as another distinguished-looking man approached. "Hi ya, Babe," said the white-haired man in the great coat. "You remember me?"

Gov. Al Smith, unabashed Ruth fan, extended his hand. Then came Mayor Nylan, who had succeeded Ruth's friend, Jimmy Walker. The dapper Walker had delivered a strong lecture at a banquet the previous November, but shortly after telling Ruth to clean up his act, Walker himself was bounced from office for malfeasance. Ruth didn't know this guy at all.

"Babe, you behaving yourself?" asked another of the dignitaries.

Ruth nodded.

"Yes, Judge, no more trouble from me."

Kenesaw Mountain Landis never smiled. He nodded and smirked. That was enough.

"Root, Root," hollered the most distinguished-looking man of the bunch. "You hafta hit one today, Root. That's why I'm paying you, Root."

"Yes, Jake," said Ruth, the only player who could get away with addressing Col. Jacob Ruppert that way. "And then I want a raise."

Everbody laughed. Everybody except Col. Ruppert. And Landis.

By now, the great band, with enough coronets and trombones to be heard from the highest tier to the far-away bleachers, had assembled beyond second base and Major Sousa raised his hand to begin "The Stars and Stripes Forever." Everyone applauded.

Well, Not This Time

Bob Shawkey finished his tosses in front of the Yankees dugout and took the mound. Tom Connolly, the home plate umpire, was handed his megaphone and announced the batteries, Ehmke and DeVormer for Boston, Shawkey and Schang for New York. Here was a custom that had seen better days. In a stadium this size, what good was a megaphone?

"What's he saying?" Grampa asked. "We're supposed to hear him?"

And by 3:15 p.m. the noise was not only deafening, it was steady. None of the players had ever heard such a sound. A roar when something happened, yes, but not such a relentless din.

Then again, they'd never played before this many people, and never in a bowl-shaped stadium with three tiers, keeping much of the sound within.

Every seat was filled now, and the aisles were packed with standees, as if the whole world had been shoehorned into one grand boxcar. "Old man Barrow must be flipping over all this dough," Ruth said, surveying the scene with perpetual sidekick Dugan.

Indeed, penurious GM Ed Barrow was upstairs going through receipts. A few fans up in the top shelf had binoculars. The rest learned they'd need them next time they couldn't sit "downstairs."

The first big roar came at 3:30. Shawkey got the side out easily and Ruth was coming to bat in the bottom of the first inning, two out and nobody on base.

"C'mon, Babe, hit one!" Johnny yelled from section 15.