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Babe Ruth’s last surviving daughter dies in Nevada at 102

Babe Ruth’s last surviving daughter dies in Nevada at 102
Julia Ruth Stevens, daughter of Babe Ruth, stands by photographs of her father at her home in Sun City, Ariz., on March 26, 2006. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Julia Ruth Stevens, the last surviving daughter of Hall of Fame baseball slugger Babe Ruth and a decades-long champion of his legacy, has died at age 102, her family has announced.

Tom Stevens said Sunday that his mother died Saturday morning at an assisted living facility in Henderson, Nev., after a short illness.

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In keeping with her wishes, her remains will be cremated with burial sometime this spring in Conway, N.H., where she used to live, Tom Stevens said.

“She lived such a full, interesting life,” he said. “She was an ambassador for Babe Ruth.”

Even well into her 90s, Stevens threw out first pitches at baseball games across the nation, attended Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., and appeared at the annual Babe Ruth Little League World Series.

She wrote three books about her famous father.

“As long as there is baseball, Daddy's name is always going to be mentioned. He was one of a kind,” Stevens once said. “My goal in life is to keep his name alive. He was a wonderful father and I remember him as that and just not as a baseball player.”

Stevens was adopted by baseball's biggest star soon after Ruth married her mother, Claire Hodgson, in 1929 when Julia was 12 . Hodgson died in 1976.

Julia was the older of two daughters adopted by Ruth. Dorothy Ruth Pirone, who was Ruth's daughter from a previous relationship, died in 1989 at age 67.

Tom Stevens told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview earlier this year that it rankled his mother to be referred to as Ruth's stepdaughter.

He said Ruth was a match to provide Julia a needed blood transfusion when she was hospitalized as a young adult.

“She said as far as she was concerned, between being adopted and the transfusion, ‘I'm his daughter, period,’ ” Tom Stevens said.

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Stevens said Ruth, who died from cancer at age 53 in 1948, taught her how to dance and how to bowl and “I couldn't have had a better father than him.”

As Ruth's daughter, Stevens' family said, “she had many amazing experiences, which she was pleased to share with eager reporters and fans alike. Until the very end, she was very proud to call him ‘Daddy,' and she particularly loved recalling events from 1934 when she went on a ‘round the world' tour with her parents” to Japan with a major-league all-star team.

She is survived by her son, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, according to the family's Facebook post.

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