Babe Ruth Biography
Babe Ruth, born George Herman Ruth Jr., was an American Baseball legend, who set new records in the game which lasted for decades. He changed the face of baseball by making the game more dynamic and hitting multiple home runs in each season almost effortlessly at a time when home runs were had to come by, and he was the one who popularized the game of baseball.
Nickname: Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, Babe, the Home Run King, The Big Bam
Date of Birth: 6th February, 1895
Place of Birth: Baltimore, Maryland
Known for: Greatest Baseball Player of all time
Childhood and Growing Years
He was born George Herman Ruth Jr. to George and Kate Ruth in the small town of Pigtown in South Baltimore. He was one among 8 of their children, who managed to survive infancy. The couple’s youngest daughter Mamie, and Ruth, were the only two children who made it. The details of the childhood years of Babe Ruth are hazy. His father was constantly busy in trying to support his family, and George Herman Jr. was a known trouble maker. Finally his parents could not handle the responsibility of Ruth anymore, and they sent Ruth, who they thought was an incorrigible seven year old, to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, and signed him off to the orphanage there. This was basically a reformatory school, and he lived here for most of his childhood and adolescent years. It’s known that his mother passed away after suffering from Tuberculosis, she died when he was just a teenager.
It was here at St.Mary’s that he regularized his behavior in their regimented setting, and it was during this time that his interest in baseball began. The head of discipline at the school, Brother Matthias became somewhat of a father figure and a role model in Ruth’s life. He was the one who worked tirelessly to help Ruth improve his game on the field, and acquire the skills which took him a long way in the Major Leagues. Ruth seemed to have a natural knack for baseball, and after watching him play, the school decided to invite Jack Dunn, who was the owner of the Baltimore Orioles(which was a minor league), to the school so that he could watch Ruth in action. It took less than an hour for Jack Dunn to be thoroughly impressed by Ruth’s skills, and promised to get in touch with him again. Since he was still underage at the time, Jack Dunn became his legal guardian in order to complete the contract. When he joined the Baltimore Orioles, his team mates jokingly called him “just another of Jack’s babes”, and it was from this time that he began to be called Babe Ruth.
On July 9th, 1914, Babe Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox.
Claim to Fame
Boston Red Sox (1914-1919)
Though Babe Ruth was most remembered for his capability as a batter and for slugging the balls out of the park, he actually started his career with the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher. And he was quite good at it too! He played 5 games for the Red Sox in 1914, in which he pitched in 4 of them. He won his first major league debut in 11th July,1914. But he did not get an opportunity to play much in the major league after that, as the Red Sox roster was already full. He played with the Providence Grays, who were the minor league of the Boston Red Sox. It was around this time that he met and fell in love with Helen Woodford who was a waitress in a local coffee joint. They were married by October, 1914.
In 1915, he started playing as a pitcher in the Major League again for the Red Sox. During this time, his pitching skill had become extraordinary. He won the E.R.A title in the American League in 1916.By 1918, he had also proved his prowess with the bat, but was also involved in a few outbursts on the field which got him in trouble with the umpires and cost his team. This was one of the reasons why the Red Sox would eventually sell him to the Yankees at the end of the season, even though he showed promise as a star player. In retrospect, this would be one of the worst moves made by the Boston Red Sox.
New York Yankees (1920-1925)
This period when he played for the New York Yankees, was the time when Ruth really came into his own. He joined the team at a time when the team was almost moribund, and he completely turned their luck around in the time that he played for them. In the 15 seasons that he was with the Yankees, he set new records, and broke his own records, and popularized baseball in a way that people had never experienced.
The media loved him, and he gave them plenty to write and talk about. Both in personal life, and professionally, he was a media delight. In 1920, he hit 54 home runs in one season and broke his old record. He then broke his own record again in 1921, by hitting 59 home runs. He became the player that started raking in hordes of people to the stadiums to see baseball matches. He made the sport livelier, and more spirited and breathed life into the game and made it more appealing to the masses. When the Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, people flocked in to see him in action. This soon came to be known as the “House that Ruth Built”, and the name stuck. He never could remember the names of any of his team members and managed it by calling everyone on the team “kid”.
He hit a massive 714 home runs in his baseball career, and this record stayed unparalleled till 1974.
Retirement and Death
Babe Ruth was known for his blatant disregard for rules. He was somewhat uncouth, had a temper, and loved practical jokes. He lived a fast and loose life, gave cheeky sound bites which the media loved, and was known to be a very rash driver.
By the time he turned 35, he was still playing well, but the teams seemed to be looking for younger and better players, and he always wanted to be a manager. So he shifted to the Boston Braves team in 1935, in the hopes of soon transitioning to manager. But after two years with them, when he realized that was to remain a dream, he decided to retire from the game. He played his last major league baseball game on 30th May, 1935 for the Boston Braves.
He kept busy in his retirement years, travelling the world, visiting sick children in various hospitals, going hunting and bowling, playing golf, etc.
In 1946, he was diagnosed with cancer, and underwent surgery for the same. But they were unable to remove all of it, and the cancer made a return in a few years. He finally lost the fight with cancer, and passed away on 16th August, 1948 when he was only 53 years old. His death was mourned by the entire nation and made headlines in all major papers. He was a hero to many young baseball fans, and his death marked the end of a watershed era in baseball history.
Awards and Nominations
Despite his retirement from baseball in 1936, most of the hitting and pitching records set by Babe Ruth remain unbroken to this day. He still holds the record for highest all-time slugging percentage (0.690). He was named the World Series champion 7 times in his overall career. (1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932)
He was voted the Athlete of the Century by the Associated Press. He was one of the first original members of the Baseball Hall of Fame (inducted in 1936).
Sports Illustrated, as well as The Sporting News magazines, named him The Greatest baseball player of the 20th Century. ESPN Sports put him at the #2 position in the best Athlete of the 20th Century, with only Michael Jordan ahead of him.
“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”
“Don’t ever forget two things I’m going to tell you. One, don’t believe everything that’s written about you. Two, don’t pick up too many checks.”
“I didn’t mean to hit the umpire with the dirt, but I did mean to hit that bastard in the stands.”
“Reading isn’t good for a ballplayer. Not good for his eyes. If my eyes went bad even a little bit I couldn’t hit home runs. So I gave up reading.”
“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.”
“Gee, its lonesome in the outfield. It’s hard to keep awake with nothing to do.”