“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” — Babe Ruth
George Herman Ruth was born on this day in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in 1895. Today is the 118th anniversary of his birth.
He was one of eight children born to George and Kate Ruth. Only he and his sister Mamie survived. His parents ran a saloon at 426 West Camden Street, a job that took much of their time. So George, Jr and Mamie were left to their own devices. As an adult Ruth reflected that he ran the streets as a kid, skipped school, chewed tobacco and drank beer while his father wasn’t looking. He was “incorrigible,” and that’s what his parents recorded on his entry documentation to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys when he was sent he was just 7 years old.
St. Mary’s was part reformatory, part orphanage, part school and part work house. It was run by the Xavier Brothers and it served boys from ages 5 to 21. Ruth learned to make shirts as well as carpentry skills at the school. He lived there for 12 years. His parents seldom had the time to visit the school.
Fortunately for Ruth, the prefect of discipline at St. Mary’s, Brother Matthias Boutlier, took him under his wing.
Ruth particularly looked up to a monk named Brother Mathias, who became a father figure to the young boy… Matthias, along with several other monks of the order, introduced Ruth to baseball, a game at which the boy excelled. [Biography.com]
Brother Matthias worked with Ruth to hone his hitting, pitching and fielding abilities. Ruth showed such promise that …
the Brothers invited Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, to come watch (him) play. Dunn was obviously impressed, as he offered a contract to (Ruth) in February 1914 after watching him for less than an hour…. Upon seeing (Ruth) for the first time, the Orioles players referred to him as “Jack’s newest babe”…[baberuth.com]
The nickname stuck and he was known as Babe Ruth from then on.
He started as a pitcher. First for Baltimore and then for the Boston Red Sox. By 1915 he was a “permanent fixture in the Red Sox rotation, …accumulating an 18-8 record with an ERA of 2.44.” [Ibid] Both his pitching and hitting game improved over the next few years and “In 1918, Babe Ruth pitched his 29th scoreless inning in a World Series. That record stood for 43 years!” [about.com]
The following year he shifted his focus to his hitting game and earned a new record. This time for a whopping 29 home runs in a single season. Ruth was traded to the Yankees in 1920 and topped his home run tally (coming in at 54 for the year.) In 1921 he broke the record again with 59 home runs. In 1927 Ruth, as part of the Yankees famous “Murderer’s Row” hit an amazing 60 home runs for the season — a record that stood for 34 years.
Over the course of his career, Ruth went on to break baseball’s most important slugging records, including:
- most years leading a league in home runs (12);
- most total bases in a season (457)
- and highest slugging percentage for a season (.847).
In all he hit 714 home runs, a mark that stood until 1974, when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves surpassed him. [Biography.com]
Ruth helped the Yankees win seven pennants and four World Series. He wore pinstripes until 1934. He was ready to retire from the active roster and wanted to manage, but his off-field hijinks — he was almost as famous for his love of alcohol, women and food as he was for his ability to swing a bat — made owners think twice about placing him in a supervisory position. He was traded to the Boston Braves for his final season where he hoped to have both playing and assistant-management duties, but he soon realized the “management” part of his job was mostly P.R., public appearances and giving autographs.
On May 25, 1935, an overweight and greatly diminished Babe Ruth reminded fans of his greatness one last time when hit three home runs in a single game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The following week, Ruth officially retired. [Biography.com]
The Sultan of Swat, The Bambino, Number “3” (Babe’s number in the Yankee batting line up and eventually the number on the back of his pinstripes) was inaugurated into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
A decade later doctors discovered a tumor on his neck. Ruth had cancer. He died on August 16, 1948.
Babe still remains the greatest figure in major league baseball, and one of the true icons in American history. The Babe helped save baseball from the ugly Black Sox scandal, and gave hope to millions during The Great Depression. …He continues to be the benchmark by which all other players are measured. Despite last playing nearly 75 years ago, Babe is still widely considered the greatest player in Major League Baseball history. [baberuth.com]
Sigh, it kills this Baltimore Orioles girl to write “Y – A – N – K – E – E -S” so often in a post. Please know I could only do it for the Babe (and for Lou Gehrig when it is his turn). When is Brooks Robinson’s birthday?