player. Born George Herman Ruth, Jr., on February 6, 1895,
in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the first of eight children
born to Kate and George Herman Ruth, Sr. Most of the Ruth
children died in infancy and only George Jr. and his sister
Mamie survived to maturity. Little George, as he was called,
grew up in a poor waterfront neighborhood in Baltimore, where
he lived above the family saloon.
1902, the Ruths sent their son away to St. Marys
Industrial School for Boys, which was both a reformatory
and an orphanage. Ruth developed a love for sports, particularly
baseball, which served as his escape from the strict environment
at St Marys. From an early age he showed potential
as an athlete, and in his late teens he had developed into
a professional candidate. His tough southpaw pitching attracted
Jack Dunn, manager of the minor league Baltimore Orioles.
In 1914, the Orioles signed Ruth to his first professional
baseball contract. He became the teams youngest member,
and was befittingly nicknamed Babe.
five months, 19-year-old Ruth graduated to the major leagues,
and signed with the Boston Red Sox. He remained with the
team for six seasons, alternating positions as pitcher and
outfielder. With his great pitching, powerful bat, and winning
personality, he was quickly on his way to greatness, overshadowing
players like Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner.
a controversy revealed that the Chicago White Sox conspired
to throw the 1919 World Series, the sport of baseball was
in need of a hero. The scandal had shaken the publics
faith in the game. However, in 1919, while still a part-time
pitcher for the Red Sox, Ruth made his home-run assault
on the record books. His 25th home run that year shattered
the modern major league record held by the now forgotten
Gabby Kraveth. By the end of the year, Ruths record
was an unprecedented 29 home runs, and he was credited with
reviving faith in the game.
December of 1919, the Boston Red Sox sold the invaluable
player to New York Yankee owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert. Ruppert
bought Ruths contract for over $100,000, which was
a staggering price at the time. In 1920, Ruth joined the
Yankees, who as yet had never won a pennant. For years they
played in the shadow of the New York Giants. Without a baseball
park to call their own, the Yankees were forced to hold
their games at the Giants Polo Grounds.
started as a full-time outfielder, hitting 54 home runs
his first year with the Yankees. Shortly after, he became
baseballs preeminent player, and such a drawing card
that New York built a new stadium for the crowds he was
attracting. Yankee Stadium had its opening day on April
4, 1923, with a total attendance of 74,000. The stadium
became known as The House That Ruth Built, and
the period became known as the Golden Age of Baseball. On
opening day, Ruth made the first home run in Yankee Stadium
slugging percentages in 1920 and 1921 were .847 and .846.
Neither figure has ever been approached. In fact, a slugging
percentage higher than .704 has been achieved only 20 times,
eight by Ruth. In 1923, hitting .393, he was named the leagues
Most Valuable Player, and capped off the year by ushering
the Yankees to their first World Series Championship. He
also led the American League in home runs from 1919-1924,
and again from 1926-1931.
1927, Ruth hit 60 home runs, breaking his own record, and
setting a new one that would endure for decades (Roger Maris
broke it in 1961). With an exceptional year, he assumed
almost mythic status, and was nicknamed The Sultan
of Swat, The Home Run King, and Herman
the field Ruth reveled in his celebrity status, enjoying
a wild and extravagant life. However, his high living and
headstrong behavior eventually began to take a toll on his
performance. He was still baseballs premier player
but fellow teammate and newcomer Lou Gehrig started to show
signs of greatness as well. The year 1931 was the start
of Ruths 12th season with the Yankees, and it also
marked the great days of Lou Gehrigs career. Ruth
was still a force, but Gehrig was closing the gap. At the
end of the season the two players were tied in home runs.
1933, Ruths once great talent began to erode. Realizing
that his playing days were numbered, he threatened the Yankees
that he would quit if not given the opportunity to become
a manager. After they denied his request, he left the Yankees
in 1934. Two years later, the Boston Braves offered to take
on Ruth as a part-time player, baiting him with an eventual
assistant-manager position. He accepted, and his decision
met with mixed feelings among New York fans. Some thought
that he was deserving of the opportunity, and others felt
that he was selling out.
three months, Ruth became aware of the fact that the Braves
only wanted him for his drawing power. They had no intention
of giving him a managerial position. He resigned from the
team, and made his last appearance as a player in May of
1935, retiring with 714 career home runs (a record that
was broken by Hank Aaron in 1974).
1936, Ruth was part of the first class inducted into the
National Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Ty Cobb, Honus
Wagner, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson. He became
a coach with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938, but never achieved
his goal of managing a major league team.
was diagnosed with cancer in 1946. Although the extent of
his illness was kept from him, he knew that his time was
limited. He spent the remainder of his life making countless
visits to childrens hospitals and orphanages. In 1948,
Ruth made his final appearance at Yankee Stadium, celebrating
the 25th anniversary of The House that Ruth Built.
His number was retired, and April 27th was declared Babe
August 16, 1948, Ruth died at the age of 53. At the time
of his death, he held 54 major league 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).
with the Red Sox, Ruth married 18-year-old waitress Helen
Woodford, whom he had known less than three months. In 1929,
Ruths wife died in a fire. At the time, they had been
separated for three years. Her tragic death allowed him
to marry Claire Hodgson, a former model and actress. With
Claires daughter from a previous marriage and Ruths
adopted daughter (with Woodford), they became an immediate
family. Ruth and Hodgson remained together until Ruths