Babe Ruth's Story

George Herman Ruth Jr. was born February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland to parents George Sr. and Kate.

George Jr. was one of eight children, although only he and his sister Mamie survived. George Jr.’s parents worked long hours, leaving little time to watch over him and his sister. The lack of parental guidance allowed George Jr. to be a bit unruly, often skipping school and causing trouble.

When George Jr. turned seven, his parents realized he needed a stricter environment. They sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, run by a brotherhood of laymen from an order of the Xaverian Brothers.

St. Mary’s provided a regimented environment which shaped George Jr.’s future. Not only did George Jr. learn vocational skills, but he also developed a passion for baseball.

Brother Matthias at St. Mary’s took an interest in George Jr. and became a role model and father-figure.

Brother Matthias helped George Jr. refine his baseball skills, working tirelessly with him on hitting, fielding, and pitching. George Jr. became so good that the Brothers invited Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, to watch George Jr. play. Dunn offered a contract to George Jr. in February 1914 after watching him for less than an hour.

Since George Jr. was only nineteen, Dunn had to be George’s legal guardian to complete the contract. Seeing George Jr. for the first time, the Orioles players referred to him as “Jack’s newest babe” and the most famous nickname in sports history was born. Thereafter, George Herman Ruth Jr. was known as the Babe.

The Babe performed well for Dunn and the Orioles, leading to his sale to the Boston Red Sox.

While Babe is most known for his prodigious power as a slugger, he started as a pitcher–a very good one. In 1914, Babe appeared in five games for the Red Sox, pitching in four. He won his major league debut on July 11, 1914; however, due to a loaded roster, Babe was optioned to the Red Sox minor league team, the Providence Grays, where he led them to the International League pennant. Babe became a fixture in the Red Sox rotation in 1915, accumulating an 18-8 record with an ERA of 2.44. He followed his successful first season with a 23-12 campaign in 1916, leading the league with a 1.75 ERA. In 1917, he went 24-13 with a 2.01 ERA and a staggering 35 complete games in 38 starts. By then, Babe had displayed enormous power in his limited plate appearances, so it was decided his hitting was too good to be left out of the lineup on a daily basis. 

in 1918, the transition turned Babe into an everyday player.

Ruth tied for the major-league lead in homeruns with 11, and followed that up by setting a single-season home run record of 29 dingers in 1919. Little did he know that the 1919 season would be his last with Boston.

On December 26, 1919, Babe was sold to the New York Yankees. The two teams would never be the same again.

After joining the New York Yankees, Babe’s became a full-time outfielder.

Babe dominated baseball, achieving never-seen-before stats. He changed baseball from a grind-it-out style to one of power and high-scoring games. He re-wrote the record books from a hitting standpoint, combining a high batting average with unbelievable power. The result was an assault on baseball’s hallowed records.

In 1920, he bested the homerun record he set in 1919 by belting a staggering 54 homeruns, a season in which no other player hit more than 19 and only one team hit more than Babe did individually. But Babe wasn’t done, as his 1921 season may have been the greatest in MLB history. That season, he blasted a new record of 59 homeruns, drove in 171 RBI, scored 177 runs, batted .376 and had an unheard of .846 slugging percentage. Babe was officially a superstar and enjoyed a popularity never seen before in professional baseball. With Babe leading the charge, the Yankees became the most recognizable and dominant team in baseball, setting attendance records along the way. When the Yankees moved to a new stadium in 1923, it was dubbed “The House that Ruth Built.”

Babe’s mythical stature grew in 1927 as a member of “Murderer’s Row,” when he set a new homerun record of 60 which would stand for 34 years.

With the Yankees, Babe ignited the greatest dynasty in all of sports. Prior to his arrival, the Yankees had never won a title of any kind.

After joining the Yankees before the 1920 season, Babe helped the Yankees capture seven pennants and four World Series titles. The 1927 team is still considered by many the greatest in baseball history. Upon retiring from the Boston Braves in 1935, Babe held an astonishing 56 major league records at the time, including the most revered record in baseball:  714 homeruns.

In 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame was inaugurated and Babe was one of its first five inductees.

During the fall of 1946, it was discovered that Babe had a malignant tumor on his neck. His health deteriorated quickly.

On June 13, 1948, Ruth’s jersey number “3” was retired by the Yankees during his last appearance at Yankee Stadium.

Babe lost his battle with cancer on August 16, 1948. His body lay in repose in Yankee Stadium, with his funeral two days later at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Over 100,000 people lined up and paid their respects to the Babe.

Babe remains the greatest figure in major league baseball, and one of the greatest icons in American history.

The Babe helped save baseball from the ugly Black Sox scandal, and gave hope to millions during The Great Depression.

He impacted the game in a way never seen before, or since. He continues to be the benchmark by which all other players are measured.

Despite retiring from the game in 1935, Babe is still to this day widely considered the greatest player in Major League Baseball history.