- Associated Press - Sunday, May 11, 2014

ALTUS, Okla. (AP) - One could say that all cars were built for a purpose, usually to motor someone from point A to B. But no other car rolled off the assembly line with the sole intent to benefit children as did “The Babe,” a 1948 Blue Lincoln Continental made by Ford and given to an American baseball legend to inspire kids to take up the sport.

Babe Ruth, who had retired from baseball in 1935, was sought out by Ford during the 1940s to travel to different games to inspire more kids to play Little League baseball.

Ruth traveled from game to game in “The Babe,” until he died in August 1948.

“He was given the car by Ford to go around and encourage children to play baseball,” Lonnie Shelton, the owner of the classic car, told the Altus Times (http://bit.ly/1lM0ntc ) in Altus, where the car was on display before moving on earlier this month.

Sometime after Ruth’s death, the vehicle was sold to a New York museum. It then passed through a few private owners until one day Shelton was walking with his grandchildren around the Museum of Automotive Transportation in Dallas, Texas, and said he was awe-struck by “The Babe.”

Shelton, who said he is semi-retired and a car collector from Amarillo, said he bought his first car at age 11, began to do research on Ruth memorabilia.

Shelton befriended the museum’s curator and months later learned that the owner was selling the car. After a three day meeting in Dallas, Shelton became the new owner of the very last car ever owned by Babe Ruth, all original parts and paint, still in pristine condition.

When asked how much the car is worth, Shelton simply pointed out that a Babe Ruth original jersey was priced at $4,000,000 in 2012.

“When I learned the history of this car and who it belonged to and began to dig-in to who he was as a man, it became quite obvious to me that this car had a purpose,” said Shelton. “What had it done the last 64 years? Nothing. It hadn’t helped anybody.”

Shelton explained that when he bought the car he decided he wanted to use it in a similar way as Ruth had.

So, last summer, Shelton and his wife, Marilyn, decided to drive over 8,000 miles with “The Babe” in tow to car shows, baseball games, hot air balloon festivals and colleges to raise money for two children’s hospitals: St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

Shelton also talks about Ruth’s life and how he started out as an abandoned child living in an orphanage, how Ruth learned about life through his love of baseball, and about being a team player.

___

Information from: Altus Times , http://www.altustimes.com