The Life Of Babe RuthBabe Ruth, born George Ruth, Jr., is considered by many to be thegreatest baseball player of all time. Everybody knows how great a hitter Babewas and how he virtually invented the home run. Not everybody knows how greatof a pitcher Babe was, even though he was one of the best left-handed pitchersof all time. Babe had a 92 and 44 record, 67.6%, and a 2.24 career earned- runaverage in 163 games pitched. Not many career .342 hitters that averaged a homerun 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 athis confirmation since it was his father’s middle name and the name of hisfriend 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 ofBaltimore. He led a rather lawless life, his parents were medium-poor and hewas mainly on his own.
All this changed when Ruth entered St.Mary’s Industrial School at theage of eight. Ruth, even though he didn’t realize it, had come in to a goodthing. 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 astartling natural talent with a baseball bat, so Brother Matthais tried to roundyoung 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 wastaught to make shirts and became quite good at it, he boasted that he could sewa shirt in less than 15 minutes.
Ruth never had to use this skill because he was discharged fromSt.Mary’s School on February 27, 1914 to join the Baltimore Orioles baseballteam of the American League. Ruth was paid a salary of $600 to play in theInternational League, one step below the major league, on an Orioles affiliateteam. The team went to Fayettville for spring training and Ruth showed rawtalent and didn’t need much formal training but needed lots of controlledpractice. Coach Sam Steinman warned the veterans to go easy with the rookieRuth, he said, “He’s one of Jack Dunn’s babes.” Journalist Roger Pippen askedSteinman to explain, Steinman said out of all the players in camp Ruth was thebiggest and most promising babe of the lot. The players heard this and the namestuck. Babe Ruth. At first George thought the name, Babe, was a joke, butafter a while it became like a proper name, and everybody called him Babe.
After an impressive showing in the International League, Babe and therest of the Oriole team were put up for sale. The Boston Red Sox bought Babeand he saw his first major league action on July 11,1914, as he took the moundagainst the Cleveland Naps. Babe ended up winning the game 4-3 after pitchingseven innings and letting up only three runs on five hits. The Red Sox sentRuth to the International League to play on the Providence team, to get somemore experience. At Providence, Ruth had a record of 11 wins and 2 loses. OnSeptember 5, Ruth won a game 9-0, only letting up one hit, but moresignificantly he hit his first and only minor league home run.
The Red Sox brought Ruth back up after the Providence team won thepennant and Ruth pitched in one game without decision. While in Boston, Ruthalmost always went to Landers coffee shop and his usual waitress was a girlnamed Helen Woodford. During breakfast one morning Ruth looked up at Helen andsaid, “How about you and me getting married, hon?” After thinking it over fora couple of minutes, Helen accepted his proposal. After the baseball season,Babe and Helen got married in St. Paul’s Church, Ellicott City, Maryland, onOctober 17,1914. Helen Woodford Ruth stayed out of the public eye and was knownas 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 didit appear on a minor league roster. Babe Ruth has made his way to the majorleagues quickly and would stay there for a long time. Babe had one of his bestoverall seasons as a pitcher going 18-6, winning 75% of his games, and rackingup an outstanding 2.44 earned run average (era). Ruth went 23-12 with a careerbest 1.75 era the following year, 23-13 the year after that. In 1918-19 Babeonly pitched in a combined 37 games with a 21-12 record in his last seasons asmainly a pitcher. Between 1915 and 1919, Babe pitched 1,167 innings in 154games with a record of 85 wins and 43 losses.
At the start of the 1919 season, Ruth started in right field but movedto center after Duffy Lewis switched to right. Lewis accused Ruth of havinglittle defensive ability in the outfield. To Lewis’ dismay, Ruth ended up beingthe best fielder in baseball that year with a fielding average of .992. Ruthhit 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 knownas the “Black Sox,” had a better team than Cincinnati and probably would havewon the series. Except some of the players were too concerned about money and abig time gambler paid them to throw the series. When the commissioner ofbaseball found this out he banned the eight men who took the money from baseballfor life. Some of the big name players banned were “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, BuckWeaver, Eddie Cicotte and others.
After this horrible incident, most baseball fans were so disgusted theyturned on baseball and the American pastime almost died, and probably would haveif it wasn’t for a player by the name of George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. Whenthe fan’s turned their collective back on baseball, the Babe emerged as the mostwell known and most popular figure in American culture. With his towering homeruns and great all around play, he kept the fans coming to the ballpark. It ishard to believe what the world would be like without baseball and thanks to BabeRuth we will never have to live in a world like that.
Even after Babe’s amazing “rookie” season as an outfielder, the Red Soxwere 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 gooddeal at the time, $125,000 for one baseball player was a lot back then, but theYankees got all they paid for. In the 1920 season, Ruth hit .376 with anunprecedented 54 home runs, crushing the old record by 25 home runs, whiledriving in 137 runs. In only his second year as a full-time fielder, Ruth wasthe most feared and respected batter in baseball. Not only did he have morepower than any other hitter of all-time, he had an outstanding average of wellover .300.
In 1921, Babe led the Yankees to their first pennant in their 19 yearsof 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, anddriving in 170 runs. In the 1921 World Series, Babe’s Yankees faced cross-townrival New York Giants. Ruth played through injury in games 4 and 5 but byphysicians 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 wasthe only highlight for Babe in an otherwise dreadful year. Ruth was suspendedon three different occasions for various reasons and his numbers droppedsubstantially, but the Yankees still won the pennant. Again they faced theGiants in the World Series. Babe was not a factor at all in this pitiful seriesfor the whole Yankee team as they got swept by the Giants. Even with thisfailure, 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, hit714 career home runs, had 2,209 career RBI’s, and 2,873 total hits, all in only2,503 total games. As amazing as these stats are, they are not the reasonpeople should be grateful that Babe played the game. The reason most peopleshould know Babe Ruth is for the most important reason, that being the way hesaved baseball from extinction. Forget how Babe was the best power-hitter inbaseball and considered by many the best player in baseball history, and justthink about how he kept the American pastime alive.
On August 16, 1948, at 8:01 PM, not only did the greatest baseballplayer of all time, but a great person, die in the form of George Herman “Babe”Ruth, Jr.
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