‘Farewell to the Babe’

“On this day in 1935, Babe Ruth, one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, ends his Major League playing career after 22 seasons, 10 World Series and 714 home runs. The following year, Ruth, a larger-than-life figure whose name became synonymous with baseball, was one of the first five players inducted into the sport’s ‘Hall of Fame’. 

“George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, into a poor family in Baltimore. As a child, he was sent to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a school run by Roman Catholic brothers, where he learned to play baseball and was a standout athlete.

“At 19, Ruth was signed by the Baltimore Orioles, then a Boston Red Sox minor league team. Ruth’s fellow teammates and the media began referring to him as team owner Jack Dunn’s newest “babe”, a nickname that stuck. Ruth would later acquire other nicknames, including “The Sultan of Swat” and “The Bambino”. 

“Ruth made his Major League debut as a left-handed pitcher with the Red Sox in July 1914 and pitched 89 winning games for the team before 1920, when he was traded to the New York Yankees. After Ruth left Boston, in what became known as “the curse of the Bambino”, the Red Sox didn’t win another World Series until 2004.

“In New York, Ruth’s primary position changed to outfielder and he led the Yankees to seven American League pennants and four World Series victories. Ruth was a huge star in New York and attracted so many fans that the team was able to open a new stadium in 1923, ‘Yankee Stadium’, dubbed “The House That Ruth Built”.

Yankee Stadium as it looked when it opened in 1923.

“The southpaw slugger’s final season, in 1935, was with the Boston Braves. He had joined the Braves with the hope that he’d become the team’s manager the next season. However, this dream never came to pass for a disappointed Ruth, who had a reputation for excessive drinking, gambling and womanizing…

“Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53 on August 16, 1948, in New York City. His body lay in state at Yankee Stadium for two days and was visited by over 100,000 fans.”

–‘Babe Ruth retires’,
This Day in History, June 2, 2017


“In Ken Burns’ documentary ‘Baseball’, noted journalist and author Dan Okrent said Ruth was

“the best lefthanded pitcher of the 1910s, without question, in the American League”.

“Indeed, among AL lefties with at least 1,000 IP in the decade, Ruth had the lowest ERA (2.19) and highest winning percentage (.659), while ranking fourth in wins, tied for fourth in shutouts and ninth in strikeouts.

“In 1916, he went 23-12 and led the American League with nine shutouts and a 1.75 ERA in 323 2/3 innings.

“In 1917, he went 24-13 with a 2.01 ERA in 326 1/3 innings and led the AL with 35 complete games…

“In Game 2 of the 1916 ‘World Series’, Ruth pitched 14-inning complete game to beat the Dodgers 2-1. It is still the most innings ever thrown by one pitcher in a single postseason game.

“Ruth posted a 0.87 ERA in three World Series starts and his record of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the ‘Fall Classic’ stood from 1918 until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961…

“Ruth is the only player since the turn of the 20th century to lead his league in ‘Triple Crown’ categories as both a hitter and a pitcher and he did it in the span of three years…

Painting by Graig Kreindler.

“Ruth broke the single-season home run record in three consecutive seasons, with 29 in 1919, 54 in 1920 and 59 in 1921…

“Ruth moved into first place on the career home run list in 1921 with No. 139, breaking the record of ‘Hall of Fame’ first baseman Roger Connor that had stood since 1895. Ruth ultimately expanded that record to 714 home runs, more than five times Connor’s career total…

“In 1921, Ruth had what may have been his finest season. He hit .378/.512/.846 with 59 home runs, 171 RBIs and 177 runs scored. The home run and RBI totals were single-season records…

“Ruth hit 259 home runs in 12 seasons at Yankee Stadium, second only to Mickey Mantle’s 266, which came in 18 seasons…

“Ruth won just a single ‘Most Valuable Player’ award in his career, that coming in 1923. There was no such award from 1915 to 1921 and repeat winners were ineligible until the ‘Baseball Writers Association of America’ took over the voting in 1931.

“However, he led the American League, pitchers included, in wins above replacement (‘Baseball-Reference.com’ version) 10 times, in OPS+ 12 times, in OPS 13 times and in two of the three Triple Crown categories seven times…

Jack Dempsey presents New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth with a king-sized bat at Yankee Stadium, April 13, 1933.

“Ruth made just two All-Star teams because the first All-Star Game wasn’t played until 1933, his penultimate season with the Yankees, when he was 38 years old. Nonetheless, Ruth hit the first home run All-Star Game history…

“On May 25, 1935, Ruth went 4-for-4 with three home runs in Pittsburgh. His last major league hit was his third home run on that day, a solo shot that was the first ever to clear the roof of the double-decked stands in Forbes Field’s rightfield and considered the longest home run in the history of that ballpark…

“Ruth never struck out 100 times in a season, though he did retire as the career strikeouts leader with 1,330. He no longer ranks in the top 100 in that category.

“Ruth set the single-season record for total bases with 457 in 1921 and still holds it today.

On Friday the 13th, 1934, Babe Ruth hit his 700th HR.

“Ruth set the single-season record for slugging percentage in 1920 at .847… Ruth’s career slugging percentage of .690 remains the major league record. Ted Williams is second at .634.

“Ruth’s career on-base percentage of .474 is second behind only Williams’ .482.

“Ruth’s career OPS of 1.164 remains the record, as does his career OPS+ of 206. The latter stat adjusts OPS for a player’s home ballpark and compares it to his league, with 100 being league average. Ruth’s career OPS+ is thus more than twice as good as an average mark…

“Ruth is the career leader in ‘Baseball-Reference.com’s wins above replacement (183.8, including a record 163.2 as a hitter) and is the owner of the top three single-season bWAR totals of all time: 14.0 in 1923, 12.9 in 1921, and 12.4 in 1927.

“Ruth led the majors in home runs 11 times, slugging 11 times, walks 11 times, OBP 10 times, runs eight times, RBIs six times, total bases six times, OPS and OPS+ 11 times and bWAR seven times…”

–‘99 Cool Facts About Babe Ruth’,
CLIFF CORCORAN, Sports Illustrated, July 12th, 2013


(Photo: Getty Images)

‘Did You Know?’: ‘That in the five seasons Babe Ruth pitched for the Red Sox, he allowed nine home runs, and hit 49?’

‘Here’s one more stat on the amazing home run greatness of the Babe: In 1927, Ruth’s 60 homers represented 13% of all the homers in baseball that season. During the height of Aaron’s career, his homers represented approximately 3% of all the homers in baseball. And when Bonds hit his 73 in 2001, it was one-half of 1% of all the homers, juiced or otherwise, that season.’

Robert Thom’s painting depicting Babe Ruth’s ‘Called Shot’ in the 1932 World Series.

‘Babe’s Called Shot’:

“The thing any pitcher has got to develop—the biggest single item in his whole stock of trade—is control! And by control I don’t mean the ability to put the ball over the plate somewhere between the shoulders and knees; I mean the ability to hit a three-inch target nine times out of 10, the sort of control that lets you put the ball in the exact spot you want it, and to play a corner to the split fraction of an inch.”

—Babe Ruth, from “Taking control”, Hardball Times, Dec.1, 2008

Feature IMAGE: Babe & The White Sox Bat Boy, Comiskey Park, Chicago – c.1930’s
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