Goodbye Justice Stevens – You Will Be Missed!

Well, since I am heading off to the Padre’s season opener in a few hours with my Dad and brother, I figured I would start this blog with Justice Steven’s link to baseball history. It turns out that Justice Steven’s was in attendance at Wrigley on one of the most famous moments in baseball/American history – the day that Babe Ruth called his shot. Yes, the stuff of legends, but when an authority such as Justice Stevens vouches for it, we know it must have happened. Here is his account of that day’s events:

“My dad took me to the game. We had box seats behind third base, about fifteen rows back. There are millions of people who claim to have been there, but I can assure you we were. I saw it and it was really something. There was a byplay going on between Guy Bush and Babe Ruth. I don’t remember what the issue was, but they were razzing one another. Bush came out of the dugout and yelled something at Ruth. I thought Babe was responding to Bush and pointed his bat at the scoreboard. I remember thinking he was saying, ‘I’m going to knock you to the moon’ or something like that. It seemed to be part of the interchange. I didn’t interpret it as saying ‘I’m going to hit a home run’, which of course he did. He then hit the next pitch out of the ballpark.”[1]

Truly an incredible first hand account of one of the greatest moment’s in baseball history. The only other one I think could compare would be “The Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig’s “Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man in the world …” speech. It turns out that Steven’s was an avid Cubs fan and his dad took him to the game that day. I like his proclamation “there are millions of people who claim to have been there” because that is truly one of those events that everyone claims to have seen in person – but Stevens was one of the lucky few to have actually been there.

There is more about Stevens that I didn’t know. Here are a few of the other gems I came across in my reading:

Born into a prominent Chicago family, his family operated what was then the largest hotel in the world

  • Served 34 years on the Supreme Court
  • Served in the Navy in World War II, signing up on Dec. 6, 1941
  • Republican
  • Became the senior justice in 1994 with the retirement of Justice Harry A. Blackmun.
  • Has written more than 600 dissents over the years,
  • Never joined the “cert. pool,”[2]
  • Nominated in 1975 by President Gerald R. Ford, who said all he wanted was “the finest legal mind I could find”

And for that, we must thank President Ford, because he truly did find one of the finest legal minds in our country. A jurist that seems to understand the everyday implications of the law, as well as the duty to follow the rule of law – much the same qualities President Obama looks to find in Steven’s replacement.

We will miss you Justice Steven’s!


[2] The arrangement under which the justices share their law clerks and have them produce a single memorandum making a recommendation about whether the court should hear each of the more than 7,000 appeals that reach it each year.