The Story of Babe Ruth


Babe Ruth and his illustrious life and career

Babe Ruth is probably the most recognized and well-loved figure in the history of baseball, and undoubtedly one of sports world’s greatest legends. Over the course of his illustrious career, the star slugger went on to break the most important baseball records. They include most years being the league leader in home runs, surpassing records in total bases in a season, and the highest slugging percentage for an entire season. His career-best 714 home runs stood for many decades until that record was broken in 1974.

From a troublemaker to a baseball star potential

Like any other sports legends Ruth had humble origins. Babe Ruth was born George Herman Ruth in Baltimore, Maryland on February 6, 1895, and was raised on the poor waterfront neighborhood in the city. He was one of the eight children of parents George Herman Ruth Sr and wife Kate. However, only the younger George and his sister Mamie survived infancy.

By seven Ruth was already a trouble-maker and often distressed his parents. He was routinely running the streets, chewing tobacco, drinking when his father wasn’t looking, and giving police officers considerable headache. Having it enough, his parents decided to send him to a Catholic orphanage and reformatory named St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, where boys aged 5 to 12 did mostly menial jobs, from cooking to shoemaking, although they also were given some education. The authorities at the orphanage believed in strictly disciplining the boys. Ruth spent there for the next 12 years.

One of the monks at the orphanage, named Brother Mathias, stood as a father figure to the young boy. It is said that it was also Brother Mathias, along with other monks, who introduced him to baseball. Ruth eventually excelled in the sport, and his teacher’s running and hitting styles would make a strong impact on the young boy.

On to the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox

Ruth’s exceptional running and hitting abilities caught the attention of the Baltimore Oroioles’ team owner Jack Dunn who saw a great potential in him. At that time, the Orioles were getting themselves ready for the major league, specifically for the team Boston Red Sox.

So how did George Herman Ruth get his famous moniker? Well, he was 19 years old then and still a minor, so he had to have a legal guardian who would sign his baseball contract on the minor’s behalf in order to enable the latter to play professionally. Consequently, Dunn stood as Ruth’s legal guardian who signed the contract. This led to his teammates to jokingly refer him as Dunn’s “new babe.” The joke persisted, and eventually the nickname “Babe Ruth” stuck.

Ruth stayed with the Orioles for only a brief time before graduated to the major leagues in Boston. In his next five years for the Red Sox, Ruth led the team to three championships. The Red Sox’s 1916 championship saw him pitch a 13 scoreless innings in one game, and this is for the record books.

Being traded to the New York Yankees

With only a few years into the major leagues, Ruth quickly proved himself to be a veteran. But something happened that would seal the fate of Ruth, the Red Sox and the New York Yankees coming into the picture. In 1919, the Red Sox was facing drastic financial difficulties. Team owner Harry Frazee was facing debts and he needed to pay them off. He found a solution: the New York Yankees. Frazee made a deal with the Yankees in which he was willing to give up Ruth in exchange for $100,000 which was a mighty lot of money then. New York agreed to buy the rights to Ruth, and the deal pushed through in December.

This deal sealed the fate of the two ball clubs in opposite directions. Since acquiring Ruth from the Red Sox, the Yankees had been one of the hottest baseball teams, capturing four World Series crowns over the next 15 seasons. Ruth’s presence even became dominant than ever before, unleashing his own level of unprecedented power. He became a full-time outfielder who was a big force and the heart of the Yankees’ triumphs.

For the Red Sox, meanwhile, they had been losing tournaments since losing Ruth to the Yankees. Since then they hadn’t won another World Series championship for many decades — because of this sportswriter began to call this drought as the “Curse of the Bambino.” That is until they finally broke that “curse” in 2004 when the Red Sox won their first World Series title in 84 years.

Babe Ruth’s amazing baseball records

During Ruth’s first year with the Yankees, he went on to churn impressive numbers by scoring 54 home runs (compared to 29 while he was with the Red Sox, which was already an impressive single-season feat). The following season he again broke his own record by tallying 59 home runs. In less than a decade later, Ruth emerged as baseball’s all-time home run champ.

However, Babe Ruth seemed to refuse to be complacent even with his amazing record, just yet. In 1927, he broke his own record yet again by scoring a season-high 60 home runs. And this impressive number would remain unbroken until 1961.

Over the course of Ruth’s illustrious and glorious baseball career, the famous slugger racked up the numbers that broke the records during his own time:

  • Most years leading in home runs in the league with 12
  • Season-high total number of bases with 457
  • Highest slugging percentage in a season with .847
  • Career-high home runs with 714, which remained unbeaten until 1974 when Atlanta Braves’
  • Hank Aaron broke Ruth’s record with his own 715th.

Lifestyle and retirement

Because of his immensely successful baseball career and magnified celebrity status, it surely brought him material comforts. And because he was famous, he became a magnet of rumors about his taste for fine food, alcohol and women, and overall extravagant, fast lifestyle. These off-the-field exploits, whether they were true or just rumors, surely added color to his reputation. However his seeming irresponsibility and wastefulness hurt his chances to become a team manager. In 1935 he was back to play for Boston again, this time for the Braves. He thought that this would also be the chance for him to manage a team, but it never come to fruition.

Already overweight, Ruth managed to hit three more home runs in a single game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1935. The next week, he officially retired. Ruth became one of the first five players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on its formal opening in 1936.

Life after retirement as a slugger; illness, death and impact on the sports world

Although he aspired to be a major league baseball team manager or even as a commentator as baseball broadcasting had become more popular, Ruth was never offered either positions; however, he was made coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938. Known for his big generosity, he instead devoted his much of his time and money to charitable events.

In his last days in 1948, he had been sick with cancer, but he still did things whatever he could, including attending the 25th anniversary of the Yankee Stadium. Sick and gaunt, it was obvious that the cancer overcame him. On August 16, 1948, Babe Ruth died in New York, aged 53. His casket was brought to the Yankee Stadium where, for two days, about 77,000 fans lined up to pay their last respects to the baseball legend.

Babe Ruth, undoubtedly, influenced many future baseball aspirants. His record-breaking numbers will forever be mentioned by baseball analysts and enthusiasts alike. His legacy will never be forgotten, even by people who aren’t fans of baseball. When you hear the name “Babe Ruth,” you’ll know that it has connotations of dominance, brilliance, greatness and uniqueness.

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