Babe Ruth Museum to launch www.714club.org

BALTIMORE -- The 714 Club currently has two members and
Barry Bonds isn't the only one hoping that will change.

While the world waits for Bonds to become the second man ever to
pass Babe Ruth, curators at Ruth's birthplace are hoping fans will
keep a place in their hearts for the Sultan of Swat and join their
714 Club.

The Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum is launching the online club
Thursday, the 71st anniversary of the Yankee slugger's 714th home
run. Visitors to the site -- www.714club.org -- can join by making a
donation that will be used to renovate and maintain the home.

"We're asking fans to contribute $7.14, or $71.40, or $714,
you move the decimal, and help us to preserve the legacy of
baseball's greatest star," said Mike Gibbons, the museum's
executive director.

While Aaron passed Ruth, and Bonds -- who hit No. 714 on Saturday
-- is on the verge, those accomplishment have not diminished Ruth's
legacy, but allowed fans to focus again the accomplishment that
made the Babe an American icon of the stature of Marilyn Monroe,
John F. Kennedy, or Elvis Presley, Gibbons said.

"Bonds' pursuit really has enabled us over the course of the
last three weeks or month to reflect on what it is about Ruth that put
him in that arena," Gibbons said.

"He was bigger than life, a Baltimore street urchin who lived
the rags to riches story, who came to be this guy who we are all
focused on 71 years later."

Money raised by the club will be used, among other things, to
install fire sprinklers and make the house accessible to the
handicapped, museum spokesman Gregg Wilhelm said.

Ruth's parents lived above a bar his father ran, but when it
came time for his mother to deliver the baby Bambino, she went to
her mother's house, which is now part of a row of houses that
comprise the museum. The room where he was delivered is among the
most popular parts of the museum, Wilhelm said.

The museum also once housed items from other Baltimore sports
figures, including the Baltimore Orioles and the Colts football
team. Those items were moved last year with the opening of the
Sports Legends at Camden Yards museum and the house is now
dedicated again solely to Ruth.

In addition to the renovations, Wilhelm said museum officials
hope to use lessons learned in building the museum at Camden Yards
to "bring the story of Babe Ruth alive and preserve that legacy."