The Full Wiki

Babe Ruth: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

George Herman Ruth, Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948), also popularly known as "Babe" Ruth, "The Bambino", and "The Sultan of Swat", was an Americanmarker Major League baseball player from – . Ruth originally broke into the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher, but after he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919, he converted to a full-time right fielder and subsequently became one of the league's most prolific hitters. Ruth was a mainstay in the Yankees' lineup that won seven pennants and four World Series titles during his tenure with the team. After a short stint with the Boston Braves in 1935, Ruth retired. In , Ruth became one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Famemarker.

Ruth has since become regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture. He has been named the greatest baseball player in history in various surveys and rankings, and his home run hitting prowess and charismatic personality made him a larger than life figure in the "Roaring Twenties". Off the field he was famous for his charity, but also was noted for his often reckless lifestyle. Ruth is credited with changing baseball itself. The popularity of the game exploded in the 1920s, largely due to his influence. Ruth ushered in the "live-ball era," as his big swing led to escalating home run totals that not only excited fans, but helped baseball evolve from a low-scoring, speed-dominated game to a high-scoring power game.

In , The Sporting News ranked Ruth number one on the list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players." In 1999, baseball fans named Ruth to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In , he was named baseball's Greatest Player Ever in a ballot commemorating the 100th anniversary of professional baseball. In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ruth was tied with Muhammad Ali as the most recognized athletes, out of 1000, in America. According to ESPN, he was the first true American sports celebrity superstar whose fame transcended baseball. In a 1999 ESPN poll, he was ranked as the third-greatest US athlete of the century, behind Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.

Ruth was the first player to hit 60 home runs in one season (1927), setting the season record which stood until broken by Roger Maris in 1961. Ruth's lifetime total of runs at his retirement in 1935 was a record, until first surpassed by Hank Aaron in 1974. Unlike many power hitters, Ruth also hit for average: his .342 lifetime batting is tenth highest in baseball history, and in one season (1923) he hit .393, a Yankee record. His .690 career slugging percentage and 1.164 career on-base plus slugging (OPS) remain the major league records. Ruth dominated in the era in which he played. He led the league in home runs during a season twelve times, slugging percentage and OPS thirteen times each, runs scored eight times, and runs batted in (RBIs) six times. Each of those totals represents a modern record (as well as the all-time record, except for RBIs).

Early years

Ruth was born at 216 Emory Street in Pigtownmarker, a rough neighborhood of Baltimore, Marylandmarker. Ruth's German-American parents, Kate Schamberger-Ruth and George Herman Ruth, Sr., owned a succession of saloons and sold lightning rods. Only one of Ruth's seven siblings, his sister Mamie, survived past infancy.

Not much is known about Ruth's early childhood. His mother was constantly ill (she later died of tuberculosis while Ruth was still a teenager). Ruth later described his early life as "rough". When he was seven years old, his father sent him to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory and orphanage, and signed custody over to the Catholic missionaries who ran the school. Ruth remained at St. Mary's for the next 12 years, only visiting with his family for special occasions. Brother Matthias Boutlier, the Head of Discipline at St. Mary's, first introduced Ruth to the game of baseball. He became a father figure in Ruth's life, teaching him how to read and write, and worked with Ruth on hitting, fielding and as his skills progressed, pitching. During his time in St. Mary's, Ruth was also taught tailoring, where he became a qualified shirtmaker and was a part of both the school band and the drama club.

Baltimore Orioles

In 1913, St. Mary's Industrial School was playing a game against Mount St. Mary's Universitymarker (then college) in Emmitsburg, Marylandmarker. That day, the game was attended by Joe Engel, a former Mount St. Mary's student who was now a pitcher for the Washington Senators. Impressed with Ruth's pitching abilities, Engel, along with a teacher at St. Mary's, Brother Gilbert, brought Ruth to the attention of Jack Dunn, owner and manager of the then minor-league Baltimore Orioles. After watching Ruth pitch in a workout for half an hour, Dunn signed Ruth to a contract. He signed a contract for $250 a month on February 14, . Since Ruth was only 19 years old, Dunn had to become Ruth's legal guardian as well; at that time, the age of majority was 25. When the other players on the Orioles caught sight of Ruth, they nicknamed him "Jack's newest babe." The reference stayed with Ruth the rest of his life, and he was most commonly referred to as Babe Ruth from then on.

On July 7, 1914, Dunn offered to trade Ruth, along with Ernie Shore and Ben Egan, to Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics. Dunn asked $10,000 ($ in current dollar terms) for the trio, but Mack refused the offer. The Cincinnati Reds, who had an agreement with the Orioles, also passed on Ruth. Instead, the team elected to take George Twombley and Claud Derrick. Two days later, on July 9, Dunn sold the trio to Joe Lannin and the Boston Red Sox. The amount of money exchanged in the transaction is disputed.

Major League career

Red Sox Years

Ruth appeared in five games for the Red Sox in 1914, pitching in four of them. He picked up the victory in his major league debut on July 11. The Red Sox had many star players in 1914, so Ruth was soon optioned to the minor league Providence Grays of Providence, Rhode Islandmarker for most of the remaining season. Behind Ruth and Carl Mays, the Grays won the International League pennant. Shortly after the season, in which he'd finished with a 2-1 record, Ruth proposed to Helen Woodford, a waitress whom he had met in Bostonmarker. They were married in Ellicott City, Marylandmarker, on October 17, 1914.

During spring training in 1915, Ruth secured a spot in the Red Sox starting rotation. He joined a pitching staff that included Rube Foster, Dutch Leonard, and Smokey Joe Wood. Ruth won 18 games, lost eight, and helped himself by hitting .315. He also hit his first four home runs. The Red Sox won 101 games that year on their way to a victory in the World Series. Ruth did not pitch in the series, and grounded out in his only at-bat.

In 1916, after a slightly shaky spring, he went 23–12, with a 1.75 ERA and nine shutouts, both of which led the league. On June 27, he struck out ten Philadelphia A's, a career high. On July 11, he started both games of a doubleheader, but the feat was not what it seemed; he only pitched one-third of an inning in the opener because the scheduled starter, Foster, had trouble getting loose. Ruth then pitched a complete-game victory in the nightcap. Ruth had unusual success against Washington Senators star pitcher Walter Johnson, beating him four times in 1916 alone, by scores of 5–1, 1–0, 1–0 in 13 innings, and 2–1. Johnson finally outlasted Ruth for an extra-inning 4–3 victory on September 12; in the years to come, Ruth would hit ten home runs off Johnson, including the only two Johnson would allow in 1918–1919. Ruth's nine shutouts in 1916 set an AL record for left-handers which would remain unmatched until Ron Guidry tied it in 1978.

Despite a weak offense, hurt by the sale of Tris Speaker to the Indians, the Red Sox made it to the World Series. They defeated the Brooklyn Robins four games to one. This time Ruth made a major contribution, pitching a 14-inning complete-game victory in Game Two.
Ruth batting in 1918
Ruth went 24-13 with a 2.01 ERA and six shutouts in 1917, and hit .325, but the Sox finished second, nine games behind the Chicago White Sox. On June 23 against the Washington Senators, after walking the leadoff hitter, Ruth erupted in anger, was ejected, and threw a punch at the umpire, which would result in a ten-game suspension. Ernie Shore came into the game in relief, the baserunner was out stealing, and Shore retired all twenty-six batters he faced, for which he was credited with a perfect game until the 1990s. Ruth's outburst was an example of self-discipline problems that plagued Ruth throughout his career, and is regarded as the primary reason (other than financial) that then-owner Harry Frazee was willing to sell him to the Yankees two years later.

The left-hander was pitching a no-hitter in a 0–0 game against the Detroit Tigers on July 11, before a single deflected off his glove in the eighth inning. Boston finally pushed across a run in the ninth, and Ruth held onto his 1–0 victory by striking out Ty Cobb. In 1942, Ruth called this game his greatest thrill on the field.

In 1918, Ruth pitched in 20 games, posting a 13–7 record with a 2.22 ERA. He was mostly used as an outfielder, and hit a league-leading eleven home runs. His statistics were curtailed slightly when he walked off the team in July following an argument with Boston's manager.

Ruth threw a 1–0 shutout in the opener of the 1918 World Series, then won Game Four in what would be his final World Series appearance as a pitcher. Ruth won both his starts, allowing two runs (both earned) in seventeen innings for an ERA of 1.06. Ruth extended his World Series consecutive scoreless inning streak to 29⅔ innings, a record that would last until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.

Emergence as a Hitter

In the years 1915–1917, Ruth had been used in just 44 games in which he had not pitched. After the 1917 season, in which he hit .325, albeit with limited at bats, teammate Harry Hooper suggested that Ruth might be more valuable in the lineup as an everyday player.

In 1918, he began playing in the outfield more and pitching less, making 75 hitting-only appearances. Former teammate Tris Speaker speculated that the move would shorten Ruth's career, though Ruth himself wanted to hit more and pitch less. In 1918, Ruth batted .300 and led the A.L. in home runs with eleven despite having only 317 at-bats, well below the total for an everyday player.

During the season, Ruth pitched in only 17 of his 130 games. He also set his first single-season home run record that year with 29, including a game-winning homer on a September "Babe Ruth Day" promotion. It was Babe Ruth's last season with the Red Sox.

Sold to New York

Ruth in 1920, the year he joined the Yankees
On December 26, 1919, Frazee sold Ruth to the New York Yankees. Popular legend has it that Frazee sold Ruth and several other of his best players to finance a Broadwaymarker play, No, No, Nanette (which actually didn't debut until 1925). The truth is somewhat more nuanced.

After the 1919 season, Ruth demanded a raise to $20,000 ($ in current dollar terms)—double his previous salary. However, Frazee refused, and Ruth responded by letting it be known he wouldn't play until he got his raise, suggesting that he may retire to undertake other profitable ventures. He'd actually jumped the team several times, including the last game of the 1919 season.

Frazee finally lost patience with Ruth, and decided to trade him. However, he was effectively limited to two trading partners—the Chicago White Sox and the then-moribund Yankees. The other five clubs rejected his deals out of hand under pressure from American League president Ban Johnson, who never liked Frazee and was actively trying to remove him from ownership of the Red Sox. The White Sox offered Shoeless Joe Jackson and $60,000 ($ in current dollar terms), but Yankees owners Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston offered an all-cash deal—$100,000 ($ in current dollar terms).

Frazee, Ruppert and Huston quickly agreed to a deal. In exchange for Ruth, the Red Sox would get $125,000 in cash and three $25,000 notes payable every year at 6 percent interest. Ruppert and Huston also loaned Frazee $300,000, with the mortgage on Fenway Parkmarker as collateral. The deal was contingent on Ruth signing a new contract, which was quickly agreed to, and Ruth officially became property of the Yankees on December 26. The deal was announced ten days later.

In the January 6, 1920 edition of The Boston Globe, Frazee described the transaction:
"I should have preferred to take players in exchange for Ruth, but no club could have given me the equivalent in men without wrecking itself, and so the deal had to be made on a cash basis. No other club could afford to give me the amount the Yankees have paid for him, and I don't mind saying I think they are taking a gamble. With this money the Boston club can now go into the market and buy other players and have a stronger and better team in all respects than we would have had if Ruth had remained with us."

However, the January 6, 1920 The New York Times was more prescient:"The short right field wall at the Polo Groundsmarker should prove an easy target for Ruth next season and, playing seventy-seven games at home, it would not be surprising if Ruth surpassed his home run record of twenty-nine circuit clouts next Summer."

It also turns out that there was a solid basis for the No, No, Nanette story. As Leigh Montville discovered during research for his book, The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth (Random House, 2006, p. 161-164), No, No, Nanette had originated as a non-musical stage play called My Lady Friends, which opened on Broadway in December 1919. His research indicated that that play had, indeed, been financed as a direct result of the Ruth sale to the Yankees.

The Yankee Years


After moving to the Yankees, Ruth's transition from a pitcher to a power-hitting outfielder became complete. In his fifteen year Yankee career, consisting of over 2,000 games, Ruth re-wrote the record books in terms of his hitting achievements, while making only five widely-scattered token appearances on the mound, winning all of them.
Babe Ruth in 1921, arguably his finest season
In 1920, his first year with the Yankees, Ruth hit 54 home runs and batted .376. His .847 slugging average was a Major League record until 2001. Aside from the Yankees, only the Philadelphia Phillies managed to hit more home runs as a team than Ruth did as an individual, slugging 64 in hitter-friendly Baker Bowlmarker.

In , Ruth improved to arguably the best year of his career, hitting 59 home runs, batting .378 and slugging .846 (the highest with 500+ at-bats in an MLB season) while leading the Yankees to their first league championship. On July 18, 1921, Babe Ruth hit career home run #139, breaking Roger Connor's record of 138 in just the eighth year of his career. (This was not recognized at the time, as Connor's correct career total was not accurately documented until the 1970s. Even if the record had been celebrated, it would have been on an earlier date, as Connor's total was at one time thought to be only 131.)

Ruth's name quickly became synonymous with the home run, as he led the transformation of baseball strategy from the "inside game" to the "power game", and because of the style and manner in which he hit them. His ability to drive a significant number of his home runs in the 450–500 foot range and beyond resulted in the lasting adjective "Ruthian," to describe any long home run hit by any player. Probably his deepest hit in official game play (and perhaps the longest home run by any player), occurred on July 18, at Detroit's Navin Fieldmarker, in which he hit one to straightaway center, over the wall of the then-single-deck bleachers, and to the intersection, some 575 feet from home plate.

As impressive as Ruth's 1921 numbers were, they could have been more so under modern conditions. Bill Jenkinson's 2006 book, The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs, attempts to examine each of Ruth's 714 career home runs, plus several hundred long inside-the-park drives and "fair-foul" balls. Until 1931 in the AL, balls that hit the foul pole were considered ground-rule doubles, and balls that went over the wall in fair territory but hooked foul were ruled foul. Many fields, including Ruth's home Polo Groundsmarker, had exceptionally deep center fields—in the Polo Grounds' case, nearly five hundred feet. The author concluded that Ruth would have been credited with 104 home runs in 1921, if modern rules and field dimensions were in place. Still, Ruth set major league records in total bases (457), extra base hits (119) and times on base (379), all of which stand to this day.

The Yankees had high expectations when they met the New York Giants in the 1921 World Series, and the Yankees won the first two games with Ruth in the lineup. However, Ruth badly scraped his elbow during Game 2, sliding into third base (he had walked and stolen both second and third). After the game, he was told by the team physician not to play the rest of the series. Although he did play in Games 3, 4 and 5, and pinch-hit in Game 8 of the best-of-9 Series, his productivity was diminished, and the Yankees lost the series. Ruth hit .316, drove in five runs and hit his first World Series home run. (Although the Yankees won the fifth game, Ruth wrenched his knee and did not return to the Series until the eighth [last] game.)

Ruth's appearance in the 1921 World Series also led to a problem and triggered another disciplinary action. After the series, Ruth played in a barnstorming tour. A rule then in force prohibited World Series participants from playing in exhibition games during the off-season, the purpose of which was to prevent Series participants from "restaging" the Series and undermining its value. Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspended Ruth for the first six weeks of the season. Landis had made his point about adhering to the letter of the rules, but he also recognized that the rule was no longer needed, and rescinded it.

Despite his suspension, Ruth started his 1922 season on May 20 as the Yankees' new on-field captain. But five days later, he was ejected from a game for throwing dirt on an umpire, and then climbed into the stands to confront a heckler; Ruth was subsequently stripped of the captaincy. In his shortened season, Ruth appeared in 110 games, batted .315, with 35 home runs and drove in 99 runs, but compared to his previous two dominating seasons, the 1922 season was a disappointment for Ruth. Despite Ruth's off-year, Yankees managed to win the pennant to face the New York Giants for the second straight year in the World Series. In the series, Giants manager John McGraw instructed his pitchers to throw Ruth nothing but curveballs, and Ruth never adjusted. Ruth had just two hits in seventeen at-bats, and the Yankees lost to the Giants for the second straight year by 4-0 (with one tie game).

In 1923, the Yankees moved from the Polo Groundsmarker, where they had sublet from the Giants, to their new Yankee Stadiummarker, which was quickly dubbed "The House That Ruth Built". Ruth hit the stadium's first home run on the way to a Yankees victory over the Red Sox. Ruth finished the 1923 season with a career-high .393 batting average and major-league leading 41 home runs. For the third straight year, the Yankees faced the Giants in the World Series. Rebounding from his struggles in the previous two World Series, Ruth dominated the 1923 World Series. He batted .368, walked eight times, scored eight runs, hit three home runs and slugged 1.000 during the series, as the Yankees won their first World Series title, four games to two.

Ruth narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown in 1924. He hit .378 for his only American League batting title, led the major leagues with 46 home runs, and batted in 121 runs to finish second to Goose Goslin's 129. Ruth's on-base percentage was .513, the fourth of five years in which his OBP exceeded .500. However, the Yankees finished second, two games behind the Washington Senators, who went on to win their only World Series while based in D.C. During that same year, Ruth served in the New York national Guard 104th Field Artillery.

During spring training in 1925, Ruth fell ill, and returned to New York for what was reported as stomach surgery . Ruth's ailment was dubbed "the bellyache heard round the world," when one writer wrote that Ruth's illness was caused by binging on hot dogs and soda pop before a game. Venereal disease and alcohol poisoning (caused by tainted liquor, a major health problem during the Prohibition) have also been speculated to be the causes of his illness. However, the exact nature of his ailment has never been confirmed and remains a mystery. Playing just 98 games, Ruth had what would be his worst season as a Yankee as he finished the season with a .290 average and 25 home runs. The Yankees team finished next to last in the American League with a 69-85 mark, their last season with a losing record until 1965.


Babe Ruth performed at a much higher level during , batting .372 with 47 home runs and 146 RBIs. The Yankees won the AL pennant and advanced to the World Series, where they were defeated by Rogers Hornsby and the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. In Game 4, he hit three home runs, Despite his batting heroics, he is also remembered for a costly baserunning blunder. Ruth had a reputation as a good but overaggressive baserunner (he had 123 stolen bases, including ten steals of home, but only a 51% career percentage). With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of the decisive seventh game, with the Yankees trailing 3–2, Ruth tried to steal second base; however, he was thrown out, and the Cardinals were champions. This remains the only time that the final out of a World Series was a "caught stealing." The 1926 series was also known for Ruth's promise to Johnny Sylvester, a seriously-ill 11-year old, that he would hit a home run on his behalf.

Ruth was the leader of the famous 1927 Yankees, also known as Murderer's Row because of the strength of its hitting lineup. The team won a then AL-record 110 games, a mark for a 154-game season surpassed by the 1954 Cleveland Indians (The 2001 Seattle Mariners now hold the record with 116 wins, though they played eight more games), took the AL pennant by 19 games, and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.

With the race long since decided, the nation's attention turned to Ruth's pursuit of his own home run mark of 59. Early in the season, Ruth expressed doubts about his chances: "I don't suppose I'll ever break that 1921 record. To do that, you've got to start early, and the pitchers have got to pitch to you. I don't start early, and the pitchers haven't really pitched to me in four seasons. I get more bad balls to hit than any other six men...and fewer good ones." Ruth was also being challenged for his slugger's crown by teammate Lou Gehrig, who nudged ahead of Ruth's total in midseason, prompting the New York World-Telegram to anoint Gehrig the favorite. But Ruth caught Gehrig (who would finish with 47), and then had a remarkable last leg of the season, hitting 17 home runs in September. His 60th came on September 30, in the Yankees' next-to-last game. Ruth was exultant, shouting after the game, "Sixty, count 'em, sixty! Let's see some son-of-a-bitch match that!" In later years, he would give Gehrig some credit: "Pitchers began pitching to me because if they passed me they still had Lou to contend with." In addition to his career-high 60 home runs, Ruth batted .356, drove in 164 runs and slugged .772.

The following season started off well for the Yankees, who led the AL by 13 games in July. But the Yankees were soon plagued by some key injuries, erratic pitching and inconsistent play. The Philadelphia Athletics, rebuilding after some lean years, erased the Yankees' big lead and even took over first place briefly in early September. The Yankees, however, took over first place for good when they beat the A's three out of four games in a pivotal series at Yankee Stadium later that month.

Ruth's play in 1928 mirrored his team's performance. He got off to a hot start and on August 1, he had 42 home runs. This put him ahead of his 60 home run pace from the previous season. But Ruth was hobbled by a bad ankle the latter part of the season, and he hit just twelve home runs in the last two months of the regular season. His batting average also fell to .323, well below his career average. Nevertheless, he ended the season with 54 home runs, which would be the fourth (and last) time he hit 50 home runs in a season.

The Yankees had a 1928 World Series rematch with the St. Louis Cardinals, who had upset them in the 1926 series. The Cardinals had the same core players as the 1926 team, except for Rogers Hornsby, who was traded for Frankie Frisch after the 1926 season. Ruth batted .625 (the second highest average in World Series history), including another three-home run game (in game 4), Gehrig batted .545, and the Yankees demolished the Cardinals in four games. The Yankees thus became the first major league team to sweep their opponents in consecutive World Series.

Decline and End with Yankees

In 1929, the Yankees failed to make the World Series for the first time in four years, and it would be another three years before they returned. Although the Yankees had slipped, Ruth led or tied for the league lead in home runs each year during 1929–1931. At one point during the 1930 season, as a stunt, Ruth was called upon to pitch for the first time since 1921, and he pitched a complete-game victory. (He had often pitched in exhibitions in the intervening years).

Also in 1929, the Yankees became the first team to use uniform numbers regularly (the Cleveland Indians had used them briefly in 1916). Since Ruth normally batted third in the order (ahead of Gehrig), he was assigned number 3 (to Gehrig's 4). The Yankees retired Ruth's number on June 13, 1948; however, it was kept in circulation prior to that.

In 1930, which was not a pennant year for the Yankees, Ruth was asked by a reporter what he thought of his yearly salary of $80,000 ($ in current dollar terms) being more than President Hoover's $75,000. His response: "I know, but I had a better year than Hoover." Ruth had supported Al Smith in the 1928 Presidential election. That quote has also been rendered as, "How many home runs did he hit last year?" Three years later, Ruth would make a public appearance with the ex-President at a StanfordmarkerUSCmarker football game.

In the season, the Yankees went 107–47 and won the pennant under manager Joe McCarthy, as Ruth hit .341, with 41 home runs and 137 RBIs.

The Yankees faced Gabby Hartnett's Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series. The Yankees swept the Cubs and batted .313 as a team. During Game 3 of the series, after having already homered, Ruth hit what has now become known as Babe Ruth's Called Shot. During the at-bat, Ruth supposedly gestured to the deepest part of the park in center-field, predicting a home run. The ball he hit traveled past the flagpole to the right of the scoreboard and ended up in temporary bleachers just outside Wrigley Fieldmarker's outer wall. The center field corner was 440 feet away, and at age 37, Ruth had hit a straightaway center home run that was perhaps a 490 foot blow. It was Ruth's last Series homer (and his last Series hit), and it became one of the legendary moments of baseball history.

Ruth remained productive in 1933, as he batted .301, with 34 home runs, 103 RBIs, and a league-leading 114 walks. Elected to play in the first All-Star game, he hit the first home run in the game's history on July 6, 1933, at Comiskey Parkmarker in Chicago. His two-run home run helped the AL to a 4–2 victory over the NL, and Ruth made a fine catch in the game. Film footage of his All-Star game home run revealed the 38-year-old Ruth had become noticeably overweight.

Late in the 1933 season, he was called upon to pitch in one game and pitched a complete game victory, his final appearance as a pitcher. For the most part, his Yankee pitching appearances (five in fifteen years) were widely-advertised attempts to boost attendance. Despite unremarkable pitching numbers, Ruth had a 5–0 record in those five games, raising his career totals to 94-46, an exceptionally high winning percentage.

In 1934, Babe Ruth recorded a .288 average, 22 home runs, and made the All-Star team for the second consecutive year. During the game, Ruth was the first of five consecutive strikeout victims (all of whom were future Hall of Fame players) of Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell, perhaps the most famous pitching feat in All-Star game history. In what turned out to be his last game at Yankee Stadium, only about 2,000 fans attended. By this time, Ruth had reached a personal milestone of 700 home runs and was about ready to retire.
Ruth with the baseball-kids in Japan in 1934
After the 1934 season, Ruth went on a baseball barnstorming tour in the Far East. Players such as Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Gomez, Earl Averill, Charlie Gehringer, and Lou Gehrig were among fourteen players who played a series of 22 games, with many of the games played in Japanmarker. Ruth was quite popular in Japan, as baseball had been popular in Japan for decades. Riding in a motorcade, Ruth was greeted by thousands of cheering Japanese. The tour was considered a great success for further increasing the popularity of baseball in Japan, and in 1936 Japan organized its first professional baseball league.

Sold to the Braves

By this time, Ruth knew he had little left as a player. His heart was set on managing the Yankees, and he made no secret of his desire to replace McCarthy. However, Ruppert wouldn't consider dumping McCarthy. The slugger and manager had never gotten along, and Ruth's managerial ambitions further chilled their relations. Just before the 1934 season, Ruppert offered to make Ruth manager of the Yankees' top minor-league team, the Newark Bears. However, Ruth's wife, Claire Merritt Hodgson and business manager advised him to reject the offer. After the 1934 season,the only teams that seriously considered hiring Ruth were the Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers. A's owner/manager Connie Mack gave some thought to stepping down as manager in favor of Ruth, but later dropped the idea, saying that Ruth's wife would be running the team in a month if Ruth ever took over. Ruth was in serious negotiations with Tigers owner Frank Navin, but missed a scheduled interview in late 1934. Meanwhile, Ruppert negotiated with other major-league clubs, seeking one that would take Ruth either as a manager or player.

Boston Braves owner Emil Fuchs finally agreed to take Ruth. Even though the Braves had fielded fairly competitive teams in the last three seasons, Fuchs was sinking in debt and couldn't afford the rent on Braves Fieldmarker. Fuchs thought Ruth was just what the Braves needed, both on and off the field.

After a series of phone calls, letters and meetings, the Yankees traded Ruth to the Braves on February 26, 1935. It was announced that in addition to remaining as a player, Ruth would become team vice president and would be consulted on all club transactions. He was also made assistant manager to Braves skipper Bill McKechnie. In a long letter to Ruth a few days before the press conference, Fuchs promised Ruth a share in the Braves' profits, with the possibility of becoming co-owner of the team. Fuchs also raised the possibility of Ruth becoming the Braves' manager, perhaps as early as .

Ruth in a Boston Braves uniform in 1935, his last year as a player.
Due to years of neglect, Ruth's health had declined considerably, significantly affecting his play.
Amid much media hoopla, Ruth played his first home game in Boston in over 16 years. Before an opening-day crowd of over 25,000, Ruth accounted for all of the Braves' runs in a 4–2 defeat of the New York Giants. The Braves had long played second fiddle to the Red Sox in Boston, but Ruth's arrival spiked interest in the Braves to levels not seen since their stunning win in the 1914 World Series.

But this couldn't last. That win proved to be the only time the Braves were over .500 that year. By May 20, they were 7–17, and their season was effectively over. While Ruth could still hit, he could do little else, and soon stopped hitting as well. His conditioning had deteriorated so much that he could do little more than trot around the bases. His fielding was dreadful; at one point, three of the Braves' pitchers threatened not to take the mound if Ruth was in the lineup. Ruth was also miffed that McKechnie ignored most of his managerial advice (McKechnie later said that Ruth's presence made enforcing discipline nearly impossible). He soon discovered that he was vice president and assistant manager in name only, and Fuchs' promise of a share of team profits was also hot air. In fact, Fuchs expected Ruth to invest some of his money in the team.

On May 25, at Forbes Fieldmarker in Pittsburghmarker, Ruth went 4-for-4, drove in 6 runs and hit 3 home runs in an 11–7 loss to the Pirates. These were the last three home runs of his career. His last home run cleared the roof at the old Forbes Field—he became the first player to accomplish that feat. Five days later, in Philadelphiamarker, Ruth played in his last Major League game. He struck out in the first inning and, while playing the field in the same inning, hurt his knee and left the game.

Two days after that, Ruth summoned reporters to the locker room after a game against the Giants and announced he was retiring. He'd wanted to retire as early as May 12, but Fuchs persuaded him to stay on because the Braves hadn't played in every National League park yet. That season, he hit just .181 with six home runs in 72 at-bats. The Braves season went as bad as Ruth's short season. They finished 38–115, the third-worst record in Major League history, just a few percentage points fewer than the infamous 1962 New York Mets. Fuchs finally caved in under mounting debt and lost control of the Braves with just over two months left in the season.

Personal life

Ruth married Helen Woodford in 1914. Owing to his infidelities, they were reportedly separated around 1926. Helen died in a fire in Watertownmarker, Massachusettsmarker on 11 January 1929 in a house owned by Edward Kinder, a dentist whom she had been living with as "Mrs. Kinder". Kinder identified her body as being that of his wife, then went into hiding after Helen's true identity was revealed; Ruth himself had to get authorities to issue a new death certificate in her legal name, Margaret Helen Woodford Ruth.

Ruth had two daughters. Dorothy Ruth was adopted by Babe and Helen. Decades later, she wrote a book, My Dad, the Babe, claiming that she was Ruth's biological child by a girlfriend named Juanita Jennings.

Ruth adopted Julia Hodgson when he married her mother, actress and model Claire Merritt Hodgson. Julia currently resides in Arizona, and threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the final game in the original Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2008.

Ruth and Claire regularly wintered in Floridamarker, frequently playing golf during the off-season and while the Yankees were spring training in Tampa, Floridamarker. After retirement, he had a winter beachfront home in Treasure Island, Floridamarker, near St Petersburgmarker.
Image:Ruth_Gehrig_WPt.jpg|Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at West Point, New Yorkmarker (1927)Image:Babe_Ruth_Gov.jpg|Ruth golfing with former New York Governor Al Smith in Coral Gables, Floridamarker (1930) – State Archive of FloridaImage:Babe_Ruth_George_Bush.jpg|The Great Bambino with future U.S. President George H. W. Bush at Yalemarker

Radio and films

Ruth made many forays into various popular media. He was heard often on radio in the 1930s and 1940s, both as a guest and on his own programs with various titles: The Adventures of Babe Ruth was a 15-minute Blue Network show heard three times a week from April 16 to July 13, 1934. Three years later, he was on CBS twice a week in Here's Babe Ruth which was broadcast from April 14 to July 9, 1937. That same year he portrayed himself in "Alibi Ike" on Lux Radio Theater. His Baseball Quiz was first heard Saturdays on NBC June 5 to July 10, 1943 and then later that year from August 28 to November 20 on NBC, followed by another NBC run from July 8 to October 21, 1944.

His film roles included a cameo appearance as himself in the Harold Lloyd film Speedy (1928). His first film appearance occurred in 1920, in the silent movie Headin' Home. He made numerous other film appearances in the silent era, usually either playing himself or playing a ballplayer similar to himself.Ruth's voice was said by some biographers to be similar to that of film star Clark Gable, although that was obviously not evident in the silent film era. He had an appropriate role as himself in Pride of the Yankees, the story of his ill-fated teammate Lou Gehrig. Ruth had three scenes in the film, including one in which he appeared with a straw hat. He said, "If I see anyone touch it, I'll knock his teeth in!" The teammates convinced young Gehrig (Gary Cooper) to chew up the hat; he got away with it. In the second scene, the players go to a restaurant, where Babe sees a side of beef cooking and jokes, "Well, I'll have one of those..." and, the dramatic scene near the end, where Gehrig makes his speech at Yankee Stadiummarker ending with "I consider myself the luckiest man..."

Retirement and post-playing days

In 1936, Ruth was one of the first five players elected into the Baseball Hall of Famemarker. Two years later, Larry MacPhail, the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager, offered him a first base coaching job in June. Ruth took the job but quit at the end of the season. The coaching position was his last job in Major League Baseball. His baseball career finally came to an end in . In a charity game at Yankee Stadium, he pinch hit and drew a walk. In 1947, he became director of the American Legion's youth baseball program.

Baby Ruth candy bar controversy

For decades, the Baby Ruth candy bar was believed to be named after Babe Ruth and some sports marketing practitioners used this example of one of the first forms of sports marketing. However, while the name of the candy bar sounds nearly identical to the Babe's name, the Curtiss Candy Company has steadfastly claimed that Baby Ruth was named after PresidentGrover Cleveland's daughter, Ruth Cleveland. Nonetheless, the bar first appeared in 1921, as Babe Ruth's fame was on the rise and long after Cleveland had left the White House and 15 years after his daughter had died. The company failed to negotiate an endorsement deal with Ruth, and many saw the company's story about the origin of the name of the bar as merely a ploy to avoid having to pay the baseball player any royalties. Ironically, Curtiss successfully shut down a rival bar that was approved by, and named for, Ruth, on the grounds that the names were too similar in the case of George H. Ruth Candy Co. v. Curtiss Candy Co, 49 F.2d 1033 (1931). Sports marketing experts now believe that the Curtiss Candy Company employed the first successful use of an ambush sports marketing campaign, capitalizing on the Babe's name, fame, and popularity.

The New York Times supports the evidence of the ambush marketing campaign when it wrote "For 85 years, Babe Ruth, the slugger, and Baby Ruth, the candy bar, have lived parallel lives in which it has been widely assumed that the latter was named for the former. The confection's creator, the Curtiss Candy Company, never admitted to what looks like an obvious connection - especially since Ruth hit 54 home runs the year before the first Baby Ruth was devoured. Had it done so, Curtiss would have had to compensate Ruth. Instead, it eventually insisted the inspiration was "Baby Ruth" Cleveland, the daughter of President Grover Cleveland. But it is an odd connection that makes one wonder at the marketing savvy of Otto Schnering, the company's founder."

Thus, in 1995, a company representing the Ruth estate brought the Baby Ruth candy bar into sponsorship officialdom when it licensed the Babe's name and likeness for use in a Baby Ruth marketing campaign. On p. 34 of the spring, 2007, edition of the Chicago Cubs game program, there is a full-page ad showing a partially-unwrapped Baby Ruth in front of the Wrigley ivy, with the caption, "The official candy bar of Major League Baseball, and proud sponsor of the Chicago Cubs." Continuing the baseball-oriented theme, during the summer and post-season of the 2007 season, a TV ad for the candy bar showed an entire stadium (played by Dodger Stadiummarker) filled with people munching Baby Ruths, and thus having to hum rather than singing along with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.


In 1946, he began experiencing severe pain over his left eye. In November 1946, a visit to French Hospital in New York revealed Ruth had a malignant tumor in his neck that had encircled his left carotid artery. He received post-operative radiation therapy. Before leaving the hospital in February 1947, he lost approximately 80 pounds (35 kg).

Around this time, developments in chemotherapy offered some hope. A new drug named teropterin, a folic acid derivative, was developed by Dr. Brian Hutchings of the Lederle Laboratories. It had been shown to cause significant remissions in children with leukemia. Ruth was administered this new drug in June 1947. He was suffering from headaches, hoarseness and had difficulty swallowing. He agreed to use this new medicine but did not want to know any details about it. All the while he was receiving this experimental medication, he did not know it was for cancer. On June 29, 1947, he began receiving injections and he responded with dramatic improvement. He gained over 20 pounds (9 kg) and had resolution of his headaches. On September 6, 1947, his case was presented anonymously at the 4th Annual Internal cancer Research Congress in St. Louismarker. Teropterin ended up being a precursor for methotrexate, a now commonly used chemotherapeutic agent.

It is now known that Ruth suffered from nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPCA), a relatively rare tumor located in the back of the nose near the eustachian tube. Contemporary management for NPCA includes concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

On April 27, 1947, the Yankees held a ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Despite his health problems, Ruth was able to attend "Babe Ruth Day". Ruth spoke to a capacity crowd of more than 60,000, including many American Legion youth baseball players. Although lacking a specific memorable comment like Gehrig's "Luckiest man" speech, Ruth spoke from the heart, of his enthusiasm for the game of baseball and in support of the youth playing the game. ( Babe Ruth speaking at Yankee Stadium)

Later, Ruth started the Babe Ruth Foundation, a charity for disadvantaged children. Another Babe Ruth Day held at Yankee Stadium in September 1947 helped to raise money for this charity.

After the cancer returned, Ruth attended the 25th anniversary celebration of the opening of Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948. He was reunited with old teammates from the 1923 Yankee team and posed for photographs. The photo of Ruth taken from behind, using a bat as a cane, standing apart from the other players, and facing "Ruthville" (right field) became one of baseball's most famous and widely circulated photographs. It won the Pulitzer Prize.


The grave of Babe Ruth
Shortly after he attended the Yankee Stadium anniversary event, Ruth was back in the hospital. He received hundreds of well-wishing letters and messages. This included a phone call from President Harry Truman. Claire helped him respond to the letters.

On July 26, 1948, Ruth attended the premiere of the film The Babe Ruth Story, a biopic about his own life. William Bendix portrayed Ruth. Shortly thereafter, Ruth returned to the hospital for the final time. He was barely able to speak. Ruth's condition gradually became worse, and in his last days, scores of reporters and photographers hovered around the hospital. Only a few visitors were allowed to see him, one of whom was National League president and future Commissioner of Baseball, Ford Frick. "Ruth was so thin it was unbelievable. He had been such a big man and his arms were just skinny little bones, and his face was so haggard," Frick said years later.

On August 16, the day after Frick's visit, Babe Ruth died at age 53 due to pneumonia. An autopsy showed the cancer Ruth died from that began in the nose and mouth and spread widely throughout his body after. His body lay in repose in Yankee Stadium. His funeral was two days later at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New Yorkmarker. Ruth was then buried in the Cemetery of the Gate of Heavenmarker in Hawthorne, New Yorkmarker.At his death, the New York Times called Babe Ruth, "a figure unprecedented in American life. A born showman off the field and a marvelous performer on it, he had an amazing flair for doing the spectacular at the most dramatic moment."


Ruth's impact on American culture still commands attention. Top performers in other sports are often referred to as "The Babe Ruth of ______." He is widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball players in history. Many polls place him as the number one player of all time.

Films have been made featuring Ruth, or a Ruth-like figure ("The Whammer" in The Natural, for example).

During World War II, Japanese soldiers would yell in English, "To hell with Babe Ruth", in order to anger American soldiers. An episode of Hawaii Five-O would be named "To Hell With Babe Ruth" because of that.

As a sidelight to his prominent role in changing the game to the power game, the frequency and popularity of Ruth's home runs eventually led to a rule change pertaining to those hit in sudden-death mode (bottom of the ninth or later inning). Prior to 1931, as soon as the first necessary run to win the game scored, the play was over, and the batter was credited only with the number of bases needed to drive in the winning run. Thus, if the score was 3-2 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, and the batter smacked an "over the fence home run", the game would end at 4-3, with the batter only allowed a double, and the runners officially stopped on 2nd and 3rd (since they weren't needed to win the game). The new rule allowed the entire play to complete, justified on the grounds that the ball was dead and that all runners could freely advance, thus granting the full allotment of HR and RBI to the batter, as we know it today. Several players lost home runs that way, including Ruth, whose career total would have been changed to 715 if historians during the 1960s had been successful in pursuing this matter. Major League Baseball elected not to retrofit the records to the modern rules, and Ruth's total stayed at 714.
Another rules change that affected Ruth was the method used by umpires to judge potential home runs when the batted ball left the field near a foul pole. Before 1931, i.e. through most of Ruth's most productive years, the umpire called the play based on the ball's final resting place "when last seen". Thus, if a ball went over the fence fair, and curved behind the foul pole, it was ruled foul. Beginning in 1931 and continuing to the present day, the rule was changed to require the umpire to judge based on the point where the ball cleared the fence. Jenkinson's book (p. 374-375) lists 78 foul balls near the foul pole in Ruth's career, claiming that at least 50 of them were likely to have been home runs under the modern rule.

Ruth's 1919 contract that sent him from Boston to New York was sold at auction for $996,000 at Sotheby's on June 10, 2005. The most valuable memorabilia item relating to Ruth was his 1923 bat which he used to hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923. Ruth's heavy Louisville Slugger solid ash wood bat sold for $1.26 million at a Sotheby's auction in December 2004, making it the third most valuable baseball memorabilia item, behind Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball and the famous 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card.

Career batting statistics

2,503 8,398 2,174 2,518 714 2,217 2,062 1,330 .342 .472 .690

All-time ranks

Career pitching statistics

94 46 2.28 163 148 107 17 4 1,221.1 974 400 309 10 29 441 488 .671 1.16 .220 3.25 3.60

Ruth was 89–46 with the Red Sox and was 5–0 with the Yankees overall.

See also

References and notes

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address