Bob Panara (BP) and Greg Livadas (GL)
BP: My father knew how much I loved baseball. And Babe Ruth was my hero. And this is 1931. So he wrote to the Yankees and he asked if I could possibly meet the Bambino, and they arranged it. So, we went to the ball game that day — we sat about ten rows from the field — and before the game, my father gives the letter from the Yankees to the usher. [The] usher goes down to the dugout, comes back with the Babe. Big fellow, huge. He says, “Hi kid! How you doing?” Shaking hands with the Bambino was a dream come true. And later on, I realized, my father, he was trying to get my hearing back.
GL: So your father thought that the shock of meeting him—
BP: Oh yes, the Bambino, wow! [laughs] But I still remained as deaf as a post. [laughs] And I remember later on taking my son to Memorial Stadium. After the game, my son says, “Hey Dad, I have a ball. I would like one of the players to sign it.” Brooks Robinson, the third baseman, came out and I said, “Hey Brooks! Excuse me, but my son wonders if you can give him an autograph.” Brooks, he looks at me, and then he signs with his hands, “Are you deaf?” I said, “Hey! You know sign language! Where did you learn?” He said, “Well, I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, only blocks from the School for the Deaf. So I used to play with the deaf kids.” He became my idol after that. Anyway, to this day, I live, breathe and die baseball. I look at it as my religion. The stadium, it’s my second home. [laughs]