Nobody in the quiet town of Sudbury, Massachusetts agreed on exactly how the piano got into the middle of Willis Pond, but everyone agreed on who put it there: legendary baseball slugger Babe Ruth. One version of the story went that Ruth pushed the piano into the pond in a drunken rage. Another variation said that he threw it in the pond as a test of strength. Perhaps the most convincing story was that Ruth pushed the piano out onto the ice during a party in the winter of 1918, but then couldn't get it back and it sank in the spring thaw.
Local lore maintains that for decades the children of Sudbury would dive into the pond and swim out to the piano, standing on it, carving their names into it, spitting on it, diving off it. People recalled seeing the piano's rotting hulk as late as the 1970s, and one elderly woman even claimed to have attended the party where the Babe pushed the piano out onto the ice. But by the 2000s any piano that might have been there had long since rotted away, such that some people were skeptical whether it had ever actually existed, or whether older people were just pulling their leg.
The Babe Ruth story was not entirely implausible, however. In 1918, Ruth had pitched the Boston Red Sox to a World Series championship. That fall, he bought a farm in Sudbury that directly abutted Willis Pond, which he nicknamed "Home Plate." The following spring, however, Ruth was infamously traded away to the New York Yankees, supposedly inaugurating the "Curse of the Bambino" which would prevent the Red Sox from ever again winning the World Series. Perhaps being traded away had prevented him from bringing his piano back before the ice melted?
Enter a local man named Kevin Kennedy (no relation to the baseball manager of the same name). A die-hard Red Sox fan, Kennedy somehow became convinced that the Curse would be lifted if only he could find the Bambino's piano and raise it from the bottom of Willis pond. To this end, beginning in the year 2000, he launched an epic, Ahab-like quest to find the lost piano. Using his own money saved up during his career as a furniture upholsterer, he brought in boats armed with infrared cameras, sonar machines, underwater robots, and professional wreck divers.
Over the years, the search found everything you could imagine *except* a piano, including a 19th century plow handle, a folk-art wooden whale, antique bottles and coins, a black-and-white TV, a Citgo gas station sign from the 1960s (which Kennedy viewed as a portent because it reminded him of the giant Citgo sign outside Fenway Park), and even a stolen-and-ditched 1987 Subaru with the keys still in the ignition.
Finally after 10 years of fruitless searching, Kennedy in desperation turned to a local psychic. She told him only "Home Plate. Shortstop, 20 feet out." "Home Plate" he knew to be a reference to the original location of Babe Ruth's farmhouse. "Shortstop" told him to search at roughly 10 o'clock from the point where a straight line from the location of the old farmhouse met the edge of the pond. When he sent divers approximately 20 feet out in that direction, sure enough, they found a large piece of wood that a local piano restorer confirmed was likely a piano veneer, as well as a large piece of cast-iron that was probably the piano's harp. Relieved, Kennedy called an end to his quixotic quest and turned the wood and metal over to the local historical society.
But of course the Curse of the Bambino had already been broken some years earlier, as the Red Sox had finally won the world series in 2004, after an 86-year drought. Perhaps the mere fact that Kennedy was looking so hard for the piano had been enough to quell the angry spirit of the Sultan of Swat.