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A Legendary Appetite

Lou Gehrig loved to fish. He spent many an enjoyable day with his favorite partner, Fred Fletcher, whom he had first met in 1927. Another partner on fishing trips was his fellow home run clouter, Babe Ruth. Fletcher, veteran rod and gun reporter for the New York Daily News, would leave an account of one excursion for flounder on Great South Bay in a brisk November day that confirmed stories of Babe’s limitless appetite.

Fred and Babe arrived at the port town of Babylon at 6 a.m. and stopped in a diner where the slugger ordered a breakfast of ham, eggs, potatoes, rolls and coffee. When the food arrived, he looked up at the server and said simply, “Duplicate the order.” After downing both meals, Babe and his amazed companion met up with Lou Gehrig, his father Heinrich, the captain, mate and a cameraman for the Daily News. Within minutes of leaving the dock, Babe went down to the galley and fired up the coal cook stove.

He insisted on cooking breakfast for everyone. Within minutes, Babe had cracked a dozen eggs, mixed in a pint of fresh cream, oiled a huge frying pan with a quarter pound of butter and fixed a pile of scrambled eggs for everyone else. As they finished, Babe cooked a pan of scrambled eggs for himself that equaled what had just fed the other six men.

Over the next few hours of fishing, Babe went down to the galley three different times to snack on what he called “cannibal sandwiches.” These consisted of an inch-thick pile of uncooked hamburger on rye bread, liberally spiced with raw onions and generous amounts of salt and pepper. That afternoon Babe fried hamburgers for the fishermen and crew. When he had finished, four pounds of hamburger remained. Never one to waste food, Babe then made himself a burger. Fred watched incredulously as the cook proceeded to make a patty two inches thick and almost a foot across. Babe slammed down this giant meat pancake, complemented by generous portions of bread, another pile of raw onions, fresh fruit and other tidbits.

After concluding their search for flounder, Babe drove about halfway back to New York City before turning to Fred and complaining of indigestion, saying, “I don’t know what the hell I could have eaten to cause it.” Fred stifled a laugh and simply told Babe to pull over at the first drugstore and buy some bicarbonate of soda to settle his stomach. Although a professional sports reporter, Fred Fletcher so admired Babe’s relentless appetite that he never described the day’s catch.

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