BABE RUTH (1895-1948)
TERMS TO KNOW;
BA- Batting Average
HR- Home Run(s)
ERA- Earned Run Average
IP- Innings Pitched
SLG- Slugging Percentage

BABE RUTH was a Major League baseball player who played both pitcher and outfield between the years of 1914 and 1935 for the Boston Red Sox (1914-1919), the New York Yankees (1920-1934), and the Boston Braves (1935). Ruth is known for increasing the popularity of baseball in the 1920s, and is also remembered as an usher of what is now called the “Live-Ball era”. Previously, baseball was dominated by the pitcher. Low scoring games were common, and speed, rather than power, dominated the game. Once Ruth made his impression in the MLB, baseball was known for its high scoring games and being dominated by power-hitters.


babe-ruth.jpg
Ruth was known for using multiple heavy bats to warm up when on deck.



EARLY LIFE--
George Herman Ruth was born on February 6, 1895, in a rough neighborhood in Urban Baltimore called Pigtown. Only one of his six siblings made it through infancy. He also lost his mother to tuberculosis as a teenager. At the age of seven, Ruth’s father enrolled him at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. He signed custody of Ruth over to the school, essentially abandoning him.

Ruth went to St. Mary’s for 12 years, barely seeing his family. While there, he was introduced to the game of baseball, which he fell in love with. In addition to playing baseball, he learned tailoring (he was qualified as a shirtmaker), and was also part of the drama club and school band.

FIRST PROFESSIONAL CONTRACT:
1913; Ruth was playing a game against Mount St. Mary’s College. In attendance was the Washington Senators pitcher Joe Engel. After witnessing Ruth’s prodigal pitching skills, Engel brought Ruth to the attention of the owner of the owner of the (then minor league) Baltimore Orioles, Jack Dunn. After seeing Ruth play for a mere half-hour, Dunn offered Ruth a professional baseball contract.

ORIGIN OF THE NAME “BABE”:
Because the age of majority was 25 at the time, Dunn had to become Ruth’s legal guardian. Once on the Orioles, Ruth’s teammates called him “Jack’s newest Babe”. The name stuck for the rest of his life.

BASEBALL CAREER--
EARLY CAREER:
Not long after achieving his minor league spot on the Orioles, Ruth was traded to the Boston Red Sox, where he was placed on the Red Sox’s minor league affiliate, the Providence Grays.
Ruth’s major league debut came on July 11, 1914, picking up the win. He would go on to appear in four more games, pitching in three of them. He posted a 2-1 record, a 3.91 ERA in 23.0 IP, and a .200 BA, before being sent down to the Providence Grays to make room on the Red Sox roster.

RED SOX DAYS:
1915; After his brief major league stint in 1914, Ruth easily gained a spot on the Red Sox starting rotation. He went 18-8, with 2.44 ERA in 217.2 IP and posted a .315 BA, hit 4 HR and 21 RBIs. However, even with his success during the regular season, he didn’t pitch in the World Series that year. Still, Ruth made an impression on the Red Sox staff, making it easier for him to earn a higher spot on the rotation the following year. 1916 yielded a very similar year for Ruth, going 23-12. He also led the league with a 1.75 ERA in 323.2 IP.
red_sox.jpg
Ruth as a pitcher for the Red Sox


Ruth had unusual success against pitching great Walter Johnson (Johnson is second all-time in wins, with 417). Ruth beat Johnson four times in 1916 alone, and would go on to his 10 HR off of Johnson in the latter years of his career.

The Red Sox reached the World Series in 1916. Ruth made a huge contribution to the Sox’s effort, pitching a 14 inning complete game in game two of the series. Boston would go on to win the series four games to one against the Brooklyn Robins.

In 1917, Ruth went 24-13 and posted a 2.01 ERA in 326.1 IP. However, pitching was not the main point for Ruth in 1917. He also hit .325, prompting some to wonder if Ruth might be more valuable to the Red Sox if he moved to the field.

In 1918, speculation of Ruth’s move to the outfield became reality. He made 75 hitting only appearances and led the league with 11 HR. In 1919, he had even more hitting appearances (113), and hit 29 HR. He also posted a .322 BA and a .657 SLG, proving Ruth’s talent both as a pitcher and an everyday fielder.

TRADE TO NEW YORK:
The offseason of 1919, Babe Ruth came to owner Harry Frazee, demanding an outrageously hefty pay raise. Frazee refused the pay raise, prompting Ruth to threaten to not play without a raise. Frazee lost his patience with Ruth, deciding to trade him. However, many teams were financially unable to deal with the burden that Ruth would bestow upon them.

This left two options for Frazee. The Chicago White Sox, and the New York Yankees. At this point, however, the Yankees were in terminal decline, due to the estrangement of the two owners. Still, Frazee negotiated with the Yankees and, on December 26, 1919, the owners of the Red Sox and Yankees finalized one of the most controversial trades in the history of major league baseball: The Babe was going to New York.

This trade to the Yankees all but solidified Ruth’s status as an everyday outfielder-turned-pitcher.

CAREER AS A YANKEE:
1920 marked Babe Ruth’s first year as a Yankee. As a full time outfielder, he hit .376, broke the single-season home run record with 54 HR, and posted an .847 SLG. The previous single-season home run record was also set by Ruth, with 29 HR. Also, the Philadelphia Phillies were the only team to collectively hit more HRs than Ruth hit by himself.batting.jpg

Any who were skeptical of Ruth’s switch from the mound to the outfield were silenced after the 1920 season.

1921; Ruth further surpassed himself by hitting four more home runs (59 HR), increasing his batting average by two points (.378 BA) and batting in 34 more runs (171 RBIs). Furthermore, the Yankees were beginning to become dependent on Ruth’s presence in the lineup; they lost the 1921 WS, largely in part because of Ruth’s absence from the lineup due to an injury.


People also began to associate Ruth with the image of the home run, and soon, baseball became a higher scoring game that was more based on power. This also boosted the popularity of baseball tenfold.


Because he had to serve a suspension, Ruth wasn’t able to participate in the 1922 season until late May. However, he was accepted onto the field with open arms, starting the year as the Yankees on-field captain. However, after multiple incidents involving kicking dirt at umpires and climbing into the stand to confront hecklers, he was stripped of his captaincy. Ruth’s inability to control his emotions became a recurring theme of Ruth’s career, plaguing him until his retirement in 1935. Ruth finished the year with 35 HR, 99 RBIs, and a .315 BA.

1923 brought the Yankees’ move from the bathtub-like Polo grounds to the newer, more sophisticated and modern Yankee Stadium. Ruth hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium (go figure), and the stadium was soon dubbed “The House that Ruth Built”. The home runs kept coming, as Ruth hit 41 HR, 131 RBIs, and set a career high with a .393 BA.
pologrounds.jpg
Polo Grounds: Home of the Yankees, 1913-1922
yankeestadium.jpg
Yankee Stadium: Home of the Yankees 1923-2008


Ruth narrowly missed winning the triple crown in 1924. He led the league with 46 HR and a .378 BA, but finished second in runs batted in, behind Goose Goslin’s 129.

Ruth fell ill for a large portion of the 1925 season, and, because of that, played a subpar season. He appeared in only 98 games, hitting .290, with 25 HR. At this point, it was common knowledge that, without Ruth in the lineup, the Yankees struggled, and due to Ruth’s absence from the starting lineup for most of the year, the Yankees finished second to last in their division (69-85). This would be the last Yankees losing season until 1965.

1926 was a much more productive year for Ruth; he hit 47 HR, 146 RBIs, and posted a .372 BA. He hit three home runs in game four of the 1926 World Series (vs. the St. Louis Cardinals), and was also partially at fault for the Yankees’ loss of the series. Ruth, although exceptional on the basepaths, was a very overaggressive baserunner. While losing 2-3 with two outs, in the bottom of the ninth inning, Ruth attempted to steal second. He was thrown out easily, thus ending the series. This remains the only time a World Series has ended with someone being caught stealing. Many also believe that this was Ruth’s only on-field blunder of his career.

1927 was (and still is) known by many as the year of the “Murderer’s Row”. The Murderer’s Row was the name given to the Yankees lineup at that time, preferably the first six in the lineup. They were as follows:

(* Designates Hall-of-Famer)
#
NAME
POS
BA
HR
RBI
1
Combs*
CF
.356
6
64
2
Koenig
SS
.285
3
62
3
Ruth*
RF
.356
60
164
4
Gehrig*
1B
.373
47
175
5
Besual
LF
.337
8
103
6
Lazzeri*
2B
.309
18
102

1927Yankees.jpg
The 1927 New York Yankees - Murderer's Row


The 1927 Yankees had a dream-like year. They finished the year 110-44, won the pennant in 19 games, and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the world series. Since the division race was seemingly decided very early in the season, the media’s attention shifted to Ruth’s pursuit of 60 HR. A mini competition arose between Ruth and first baseman Lou Gehrig. By the middle of the season, both of their seasonal home run totals were tied. Nonetheless, Ruth pushed ahead, and, by the end of the season, Ruth managed his 60 HR, while Gehrig hit only 47 HR. Ruth later gave Gehrig some credit for his success, however, claiming that “Pitchers began pitching to me because if they passed me they still had Lou to contend with."
Babe-Ruth-Lou-Gehrig--B10106764.jpg
Lou Gehrig (1B) and Babe Ruth (RF)



In 1928; Ruth hit 54 HR, 142 RBIs, and posted a .323 BA. However, this would be the last season that he would hit 50 HR. This season, Ruth’s success/failure as an individual was directly proportionate to the Yankees’ success/failure as a team. He got off to a hot start, and by August 1, he had hit 42 HR. However, in the final two months of the season, he hit only 12. Also, he hit .323, a batting average much lower than his career average. The Yankees’ performance in 1928 directly mirrored this. However, the Yankees still managed to get to the World Series, where a 1926 World Series rematch took place. In this series, Ruth had a batting average of .625 (second highest in any World Series), and he hit three home runs in game four. This time, the Yankees beat the Cardinals, sweeping them in four games.

In addition to Ruth’s 54 HR, 142 RBIs, and .323 BA, Ruth also pitched a complete game shutout in 1929. This was also the first year that Ruth had his iconic uniform number “3”.
Ruth’s decline came in 1931; although he hit .373, with 46 HR and 163 RBI, this would be the last year that Ruth would ever lead or tie the league in home runs and slugging percentage.

All of Ruth’s stats began to steadily decrease in 1932, with a batting average just above .300, 41 HR, and 137 RBIs. However, 1932 is an important year in “Ruthian” history. In game three of the world series (against the Chicago Cubs), Ruth “called his shot”, pointing his bat to centerfield, the deepest point in Wrigley Field. The very next pitch, he homered, just clearing the centerfield flagpole.

LATER LIFE--
RETIREMENT
At the end of the 1934 season, Ruth was traded to the Boston Braves. He played a mere 28 games, finished the year with a .181 BA, 6 HR, and 12 RBIs. Ruth formally announced his retirement halfway through the 1935 season.

He was later one of the first five players to be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, and his uniform number 3 was retired by the Yankees in 1948.

ILLNESS AND EVENTUAL DEATH
In 1946, after being checked into the hospital due to severe pain in his left eye, doctors discovered a malignant tumor in his neck that encircled his left carotid artery. He was treated after receiving radiation therapy. He lost approximately 80 pounds in the process.

In 1948, the cancer returned, this time forcing him to his deathbed. He was in and out of the hospital until July 26, 1948, where he was admitted to the hospital for the last time.
George “Babe” Herman Ruth Jr. died on August 16, 1948. It was later confirmed that the cancer that killed him began with the nose and mouth, and later spread to the rest of his body.

His body lay in repose at Yankee Stadium.

LEGACY--
Babe Ruth was (and still is) an iconic figure. Even after his retirement, he was still revered as a hugely talented, revolutionary baseball player. He almost single-handedly transformed baseball into a game that revolved more around power (high scoring), rather than speed (low-scoring). He is widely thought of as one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and in 1999, he was voted to the Major League Baseball All Century Team.

2Ruth1948April.jpg
An iconic, Pulitzer Prize winning photo taken at Ruth's last public appearance


CAREER STATISTICS:
Yr
Team
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
GRSL
RBI
BB
IBB
SO
SH
SF
HBP
GIDP
AVG
OBP
SLG
1914
Red Sox
5
10
1
2
1
0
0
0
2
0
-
4
0
-
0
-
.200
.200
.300
1915
Red Sox
42
92
16
29
10
1
4
0
21
9
-
23
2
-
0
-
.315
.376
.576
1916
Red Sox
67
136
18
37
5
3
3
0
15
10
-
23
4
-
0
-
.272
.322
.419
1917
Red Sox
52
123
14
40
6
3
2
0
12
12
-
18
7
-
0
-
.325
.385
.472
1918
Red Sox
95
317
50
95
26
11
11
0
66
58
-
58
3
-
2
-
.300
.411
.555
1919
Red Sox
130
432
103
139
34
12
29
4
114
101
-
58
3
-
6
-
.322
.456
.657
1920
Yankees
142
458
158
172
36
9
54
0
137
150
-
80
5
-
3
-
.376
.532
.847
1921
Yankees
152
540
177
204
44
16
59
0
171
145
-
81
4
-
4
-
.378
.512
.846
1922
Yankees
110
406
94
128
24
8
35
1
99
84
-
80
4
-
1
-
.315
.434
.672
1923
Yankees
152
522
151
205
45
13
41
0
131
170
-
93
3
-
4
-
.393
.545
.764
1924
Yankees
153
529
143
200
39
7
46
0
121
142
-
81
6
-
4
-
.378
.513
.739
1925
Yankees
98
359
61
104
12
2
25
1
66
59
-
68
6
-
2
-
.290
.393
.543
1926
Yankees
152
495
139
184
30
5
47
1
146
144
-
76
10
-
3
-
.372
.516
.737
1927
Yankees
151
540
158
192
29
8
60
2
164
137
-
89
14
-
0
-
.356
.486
.772
1928
Yankees
154
536
163
173
29
8
54
0
142
137
-
87
8
-
3
-
.323
.463
.709
1929
Yankees
135
499
121
172
26
6
46
3
154
72
-
60
13
-
3
-
.345
.430
.697
1930
Yankees
145
518
150
186
28
9
49
1
153
136
-
61
21
-
1
-
.359
.493
.732
1931
Yankees
145
534
149
199
31
3
46
1
163
128
-
51
0
-
1
-
.373
.495
.700
1932
Yankees
133
457
120
156
13
5
41
1
137
130
-
62
0
-
2
-
.341
.489
.661
1933
Yankees
137
459
97
138
21
3
34
0
103
114
-
90
0
-
2
-
.301
.442
.582
1934
Yankees
125
365
78
105
17
4
22
1
84
104
-
63
0
-
2
-
.288
.448
.537
1935
Braves
28
72
13
13
0
0
6
0
12
20
-
24
0
-
0
2
.181
.359
.431
Career
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
GRSL
RBI
BB
IBB
SO
SH
SF
HBP
GIDP
AVG
OBP
SLG
22 Years
2,503
8,399
2,174
2,873
506
136
714
16
2,213
2,062
-
1,330
113
-
43
2
.342
.474
.690


WORKS CITED--
"Babe Ruth Career Statistics | Braves.com: Stats." The Official Site of Major League Baseball | MLB.com: Homepage. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_stats_player.jsp?c_id=atl&playerID=121578>.
"Babe Ruth Statistics and History - Baseball-Reference.com." Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Baseball Statistics and History. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.
<http://www.baseball- reference.com/players/r/ruthba01.shtml>.
Montville, Leigh. The Big Bam: the Life and times of Babe Ruth. New York: Doubleday, 2006. Print.