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From the Babe to Honest Abe: Va. woman hopes to find home for historical collection

Kathy Devey with family photo of Babe Ruth late in his life. Photo by Jay Korff/7News
Kathy Devey with family photo of Babe Ruth late in his life. Photo by Jay Korff/7News
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Reporter’s Notebook: Abraham Lincoln and Babe Ruth are among America’s famed icons. Northern Virginia resident Kathy Devey, who grew up in Boston and is related to former Boston Police Department Superintendent Michael Crowley, came to 7News On Your Side to help her find a home for historic items handed down in her family linked to those legends, including an original 1860s police blotter. We reached out to the National Law Enforcement Museum. Their team is interested in inspecting these one-of-a-kind items.

Kathy Devey’s loyalties are as pinpoint as a perfect pitch.

“I don’t remember not being a Red Sox fan,” says Devey.

While Devey lives in Gainesville she and her tight-knit family hail from Bean Town.

Devey says, “I still consider myself a Bostonian. I’m still a Bruins fan, a Red Sox fan. I still hate the Yankees with every corpuscle of my body which I was brought up to do.”

Her lineage is linked to Boston lore and in turn, American history.

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“This is a picture from Fenway Park probably the late 20s or 30s,” says Devey.

Her sports collection includes original photos and a 1940 scorecard filled with Hall of Famers.

Devey lists off names from Boston’s lineup including, “DiMaggio, Williams, Foxx, Cronin, Doerr. What a lineup. What a lineup.” But the provenance scattered across her dining room table goes far beyond game day memorabilia.

“This is Babe Ruth near the end of his life,” says Devey.

Devey says her great uncle Arthur and baseball legend Babe Ruth were personal friends. The Babe started and ended his storied career in Boston. Ruth’s off-the-field struggles with alcohol a part of this family’s narrative.

“So he was not allowed to come home when he was inebriated so he would often spend the night on my grandmother’s couch in the front room. My father remembers having to be quiet, so they didn’t wake up George and George was Babe Ruth,” says Devey.

This American icon initially met her family through Devey’s great grandfather, famed Boston Police Superintendent Michael Crowley.

Devey adds, “So he oversaw the city during a fairly turbulent time.”

Crowley ascended from the pickpocket squad at Fenway Park to the department’s top spot, battling bootleggers, crooks, and corruption. A city stunned when Crowley collapsed and died in 1933.

Devey reads from the headlines of an original Boston newspaper, “The caption is, ‘Boston’s most heroic figure is carried to his last resting place.’”

What Devey is not certain of, but certainly treasures is how another book ended up in her family’s possession.

“I hate to even put a little elastic band around it because I’m afraid I’ll damage it,” says Devey.

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Devey says, handed down to her, an original Boston police blotter from the mid-1860s. A portal back in time to life and crime in a major 19th-century city. The daily logs ranging from common thievery to missing persons, wanted murderers and warnings of escapees.

“The wanted posters that say stop thief because someone stole a light bay mare from Boston Common,” says Devey.

The jewel of this collection is dated November 7, 1864. It’s an all-hands-on-deck communique to police to show up for work the day before, the day of and the day after the second Presidential Election won by Abraham Lincoln. That election occurring five months before Lincoln's assassination.

Again, Devey reads from the record, “A detail will be made to go to the polling places to help keep order and give every person wishing to do so an opportunity to vote free and unparalleled and they must arrest all disorderly and riotous disposed persons.”

It’s Kathy Devey’s literal dying wish for this one-a-kind record to end up in a museum, which 7News On Your Side is trying to arrange, so many more can appreciate these pages.

“My last surgery in November they told my husband I wouldn’t make it until dawn,” says Devey.

This 69-year-old has a rare form of cancer. The treatments life-extending but difficult to tolerate.

Devey says, “Sometimes you got to say is it worth it? And it wasn’t so I stopped after five rounds. So this could last three weeks, three months, three years. That’s what I’m hoping for. So, I take every day as it comes.”

The clippings, faded photographs and hand-written records are about more than a cherished hometown. They’re the foundational memories of a family that Devey says awakened her for the twilight of her season.

Devey concludes, “I had days where I was ready to throw the towel in but my kids wouldn’t let me and my family wouldn’t let me. So, yes, this is about family.”

A family she fully expects will continue to champion her beloved BoSox.

“Just want them all to be Red Sox fans. It’s a sign of a good person,” says Devey.

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