Julia Ruth Stevens, the last surviving daughter of Babe Ruth, passed away on March 9, 2019 at the age of 102, according to her son, Tom Stevens. Julia passed at an assisted living facility in Henderson, Nevada, following a brief illness. She is survived by Tom, as well as by her two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Stevens was born in Athens, Georgia, in July 1916 to Claire Hodgson and her husband Frank; the two separated when Julia was still a toddler, and Claire took her to New York to find work. Claire met Babe Ruth in 1923, just a few years after he began his time with the Yankees. At the time, Ruth was still married to Helen Woodford, but the two separated in 1925. In 1929, Ruth married Claire, and adopted Julia (while Claire adopted Ruth’s daughter by Helen, Dorothy) in 1930. The blended family lived together in NYC.
Julia often recalled her childhood growing up with Ruth fondly, and as an adult she essentially acted as the family’s spokesperson, especially following the deaths of Claire and of Dorothy by the end of the 1980s.
She made appearances on behalf of the Ruth family, such as appearing at Yankee Stadium for the 1998 unveiling of a postage stamp portraying her father, and tossing out the first pitch for the last game played at the old Yankee Stadium in September 2008. Julia continued to make appearances at ballparks until she was 100 years old, though she eventually stopped due to both her age as well as having become legally blind from macular degeneration.
Despite her father having already been sent to New York by the time she met him, Julia grew up to become more of a Red Sox fan, having lived for many years in New Hampshire. Regarding the Curse of the Bambino, she once said, “Mostly I think it’s a myth. But it is a coincidence definitely that there’s been many, many, many years since the Red Sox managed to win a World Series.”
Julia maintained her father’s legacy and often enjoyed chatting about Babe’s life, according to Tom Stevens.
“She lived a full life and tried to do her very best… to perpetuate the legacy of the Babe in a positive way,” he said. “Having lived so long she was the only one left who could do it.”