Celebrating home runs with doughnuts

By Jessica Meditz

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Baseball is America’s national pastime. It’s a game that often calls for celebrations of victory.

Best known for his 22-season career in Major League Baseball and setting an impeccable record with 60 home runs in a single season with the Yankees, Babe Ruth was a household name back in his day.

Little does the world know: Ruth was a simple man. He loved doughnuts.

Prior to the delectable doughnuts that New Yorkers know today from Dough Doughnuts, the family of Jeffrey Zipes, co-owner, previously owned Lori Bari Bakery — which had locations around the city.

Ruth frequented their Bronx location on 89th St. and Broadway.

He lived around the corner on the same street, according to Bruce Zipes, the son of the shop’s former owner, Harry.

“He would come into my father’s bakery when he was in New York every single morning. My dad didn’t know if he was coming home or going out to the stadium. He would come in at six in the morning,” he said.

“Babe would go in the back of the bakery while the bakers were baking, and he started picking at things, you know? Which was okay.”

What wasn’t okay for his grandfather, Izzy, was when Ruth would spit his chewing tobacco on the floor.

“My grandfather came from Poland, he didn’t know baseball and didn’t know who Babe was from Adam. He would actually throw him out of the bakery,” Zipes said.

“Everybody went up to my grandfather and said, ‘Do you know who that is?’ My father had to run after Babe in the street and tell him to come back.”

Babe Ruth loved their whipped cream and hibiscus doughnuts.

So much, in fact, that he would devour the Lori Bari doughnuts in just one bite.

“The Babe loved the hibiscus doughnut so much that my father renamed it “The Babe,” which we at Dough still serve today,” Jeffrey Zipes said.

Ruth visited the bakery so often, but never carried a ball on him to be signed. 

The Lori Bari workers befriended Ruth, but unfortunately never got their autographed baseball.

“Years later, I had the opportunity to tell that story to his granddaughter, Linda Ruth, and she laughed and actually signed a ball for me,” he said. “Maybe not as good, but I have a piece of history anyway.”

On his birthday in February, Ruth was in town and requested that the Lori Bari crew make him a cake with the “special doughnuts.”

Harry Zipes made Ruth a platter of 60 doughnuts to commemorate his 60 home runs.

“An hour or two after he picked them up, he called and said he wanted 60 more doughnuts,” Bruce Zipes said.

In the case of Yankees sluggers, history repeated itself in the form of superstar Aaron Judge, who recently hit his 60th single-season homer.

Judge went on to hit No. 61, tying the great Roger Maris, who beat Ruth’s record in 1961.

Yankee fans clamored when Judge finally hit the 100.2 mph bullet off his bat deep into the stands on Oct. 4, making history with 62 home runs in a single season.

With locations across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, the Zipes family would like to keep the tradition alive and extend an invitation to today’s Home Run King.

Jeffrey Zipes said that Judge is more than welcome to visit any Dough Doughnuts location, try all the doughnuts as Ruth did and discover his favorite.

“We are willing to make our Home Run King ‘The Judge’ doughnut, and we extend that we will make his favorite doughnut for the length of the playoffs as a good luck gesture,” he said.

Maybe someone will remember to bring a ball for him to sign this time.

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