Babe Ruth, born George Ruth, Jr., is considered by many to be the
greatest baseball player of all time. Everybody knows how great a hitter Babe
was and how he virtually invented the home run. Not everybody knows how great
of a pitcher Babe was, even though he was one of the best left-handed pitchers
of all time. Babe had a 92 and 44 record, 67.6%, and a 2.24 career earned- run
average in 163 games pitched. Not many career .342 hitters that averaged a home
run every 11.8 at bats can say that.
George Ruth, Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 6, 1895,
son of George Herman Ruth, Sr. and Kate Ruth. George took the name of Herman at
his confirmation since it was his father’s middle name and the name of his
friend at St.Mary’s Industrial School, Brother Herman.Ruth says he had a
rotten start in life; he spent his childhood days on the streets and piers of
Baltimore. He led a rather lawless life, his parents were medium-poor and he
was mainly on his own.
All this changed when Ruth entered St.Mary’s Industrial School at the
age of eight. Ruth, even though he didn’t realize it, had come in to a good
thing. Brother Matthais took young Ruth under his wing and taught him to read,
write, play baseball, do needle work, and right from wrong. Ruth showed a
startling natural talent with a baseball bat, so Brother Matthais tried to round
young George into a complete baseball player by teaching him to pitch and field.
Ruth says that, Brother Matthais was the greatest man I ever knew. Ruth was
taught to make shirts and became quite good at it, he boasted that he could sew
a shirt in less than 15 minutes.
Ruth never had to use this skill because he was discharged from
St.Mary’s School on February 27, 1914 to join the Baltimore Orioles baseball
team of the American League. Ruth was paid a salary of $600 to play in the
International League, one step below the major league, on an Orioles affiliate
team.The team went to Fayettville for spring training and Ruth showed raw
talent and didn’t need much formal training but needed lots of controlled
practice. Coach Sam Steinman warned the veterans to go easy with the rookie
Ruth, he said, He’s one of Jack Dunn’s babes.Journalist Roger Pippen asked
Steinman to explain, Steinman said out of all the players in camp Ruth was the
biggest and most promising babe of the lot. The players heard this and the name
stuck. Babe Ruth. At first George thought the name, Babe, was a joke, but
after a while it became like a proper name, and everybody called him Babe.
After an impressive showing in the International League, Babe and the
rest of the Oriole team were put up for sale. The Boston Red Sox bought Babe
and he saw his first major league action on July 11,1914, as he took the mound
against the Cleveland Naps.Babe ended up winning the game 4-3 after pitching
seven innings and letting up only three runs on five hits. The Red Sox sent
Ruth to the International League to play on the Providence team, to get some
more experience. At Providence, Ruth had a record of 11 wins and 2 loses. On
September 5, Ruth won a game 9-0, only letting up one hit, but more
significantly he hit his first and only minor league home run.
The Red Sox brought Ruth back up after the Providence team won the
pennant and Ruth pitched in one game without decision. While in Boston, Ruth
almost always went to Landers coffee shop and his usual waitress was a girl
named Helen Woodford. During breakfast one morning Ruth looked up at Helen and
said, How about you and me getting married, hon?After thinking it over for
a couple of minutes, Helen accepted his proposal. After the baseball season,
Babe and Helen got married in St. Paul’s Church, Ellicott City, Maryland, on
October 17,1914. Helen Woodford Ruth stayed out of the public eye and was known
as the only person in Boston to still call Babe by his proper name, George.
The Red Sox roster of 1915 included Babe Ruth’s name. Never again did
it appear on a minor league roster. Babe Ruth has made his way to the major
leagues quickly and would stay there for a long time. Babe had one of his best
overall seasons as a pitcher going 18-6, winning 75% of his games, and racking
up an outstanding 2.44 earned run average (era).Ruth went 23-12 with a career
best 1.75 era the following year, 23-13 the year after that. In 1918-19 Babe
only pitched in a combined 37 games with a 21-12 record in his last seasons as
mainly a pitcher. Between 1915 and 1919, Babe pitched 1,167 innings in 154
games with a record of 85 wins and 43 losses.
At the start of the 1919 season, Ruth started in right field but moved
to center after Duffy Lewis switched to right. Lewis accused Ruth of having
little defensive ability in the outfield. To Lewis’ dismay, Ruth ended up being
the best fielder in baseball that year with a fielding average of .992. Ruth
hit an unbelievable 29 home runs in 1919, his first full season as a fielder.
In the 1919 World Series, the Chicago White Sox, or as they became known
as the Black Sox, had a better team than Cincinnati and probably would have
won the series. Except some of the players were too concerned about money and a
big time gambler paid them to throw the series. When the commissioner of
baseball found this out he banned the eight men who took the money from baseball
for life. Some of the big name players banned were Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck
Weaver, Eddie Cicotte and others.
After this horrible incident, most baseball fans were so disgusted they
turned on baseball and the American pastime almost died, and probably would have
if it wasn’t for a player by the name of George Herman Babe Ruth, Jr.When
the fan’s turned their collective back on baseball, the Babe emerged as the most
well known and most popular figure in American culture. With his towering home
runs and great all around play, he kept the fans coming to the ballpark. It is
hard to believe what the world would be like without baseball and thanks to Babe
Ruth we will never have to live in a world like that.
Even after Babe’s amazing rookie season as an outfielder, the Red Sox
were ignorant enough to sell him to the New York Yankees for the sum of $125,000,
the most ever recorded in baseball annals. That may have seemed like a good
deal at the time, $125,000 for one baseball player was a lot back then, but the
Yankees got all they paid for. In the 1920 season, Ruth hit .376 with an
unprecedented 54 home runs, crushing the old record by 25 home runs, while
driving in 137 runs. In only his second year as a full-time fielder, Ruth was
the most feared and respected batter in baseball. Not only did he have more
power than any other hitter of all-time, he had an outstanding average of well
In 1921, Babe led the Yankees to their first pennant in their 19 years
of existence. As unbelievable as it sounds, Babe improved on all accounts,
hitting .378, breaking his old record of 54 home runs by hitting 59 of them, and
driving in 170 runs. In the 1921 World Series, Babe’s Yankees faced cross-town
rival New York Giants. Ruth played through injury in games 4 and 5 but by
physicians advice sat out games 6, 7, and 8 in which the Yankee’s lost all games,
along with the series.
In 1922 Babe and Helen Ruth had their first child, Dorothy. This was
the only highlight for Babe in an otherwise dreadful year. Ruth was suspended
on three different occasions for various reasons and his numbers dropped
substantially, but the Yankees still won the pennant. Again they faced the
Giants in the World Series. Babe was not a factor at all in this pitiful series
for the whole Yankee team as they got swept by the Giants. Even with this
failure, Babe led the Yankee’s to seven World Series, winning five of them.
In Babe’s unbelievable career, he had a lifetime average of .342, hit
714 career home runs, had 2,209 career RBI’s, and 2,873 total hits, all in only
2,503 total games. As amazing as these stats are, they are not the reason
people should be grateful that Babe played the game. The reason most people
should know Babe Ruth is for the most important reason, that being the way he
saved baseball from extinction. Forget how Babe was the best power-hitter in
baseball and considered by many the best player in baseball history, and just
think about how he kept the American pastime alive.
On August 16, 1948, at 8:01 PM, not only did the greatest baseball
player of all time, but a great person, die in the form of George Herman Babe