Saturday, October 23, 2004


Dream sinking for frustrated fans: Donations low for finding 'The Babe's' piano


Metro West Daily News
By Benjamin Smith / News Staff Writer
Friday, October 22, 2004

SUDBURY -- Efforts to end the Red Sox's 86-year-old championship drought will need to wait until next year due to a lack of money.

The Restoration Project, an Acton-based organization, has been attempting to break the "Curse of the Bambino" on the Red Sox by finding a lost piano that once belonged to Babe Ruth. The organization has been unable to raise the money needed to find the instrument believed to rest at the bottom of Willis Pond.

"We've gotten $10 in donations," said project Director Eloise Newell.

"We started this as frustrated fans, and are frustrated that no one has stepped up to help," said Kevin Kennedy, an instructor with Restoration project. "Roughly 20 percent of Red Sox fans believe in a curse, so why are they standing ideally by not helping while their team becomes doomed?"

Volunteer divers have gone into the mucky water of Willis Pond four times to search for the piano. In November 2002, John Fish, an expert in locating submerged objects, found three potential sites using a magnetometer. The equipment locates variations in the earth's magnetic field caused by large masses of metal.

Three "hot spots" were identified to potentially be the piano by Fish because of the depth and size of the metal objects. Divers have been unable to examine the three sites because they lack the sophisticated equipment that Fish can provide. Because of time constraints last year, Fish was unable to search the entire pond. He was asked to return at a later date to do so, but has not been able to schedule time around his business.

"It's gotten to the point where we will have to pay Fish for the time needed to finally bring up the piano," Kennedy said. "You can only ask so much of people."

It will cost $2,500 a day for the rental of Fish's equipment, according to Newell.

According to legend, Babe Ruth was vacationing at a cabin on Willis Pond in 1918 and, while drunk, threw the piano into the lake as a display of his Herculean strength. Since the famed toss, the Boston Red Sox have not won a World Series. Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees in 1920 and not long after, the "Curse of the Bambino" was born.

Another version of the story says Ruth was hosting a sing-along and the cabin became too crowded with children who came from miles away to see him. Ruth and the children then pushed the piano down the hill on top of the frozen pond and the sing-along continued. Afterwards, Ruth left the piano there, where it eventually sank to the bottom of the pond.

The group hopes that restoration of the piano will not only break the curse, but will raise money to help people with mental illness ease back into society after treatment through the sale of the instrument. More than 150 people with mental illness have restored furniture with the Restoration Project since it opened a decade ago, offering both jobs and therapy.

If divers find the Bambino's lost piano in Willis Pond, it will cost more than $200,000 to restore it, Newell said. The Restoration Project is still hoping to get donations, either for the organization or the piano. Donations can be sent to Newell at Restoration Project, 81 River St., Acton, MA 01720.

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