," "The Sultan of Swat
". Legendary baseball
player known for his mammoth home run
s, appetite for food, drink, and women
, and his love of children, among other things.
Ruth (DOB: 2/6/1895; Baltimore, Maryland), first and foremost, was a baseball player. He started his major league career in 1914, as a member of the Boston Red Sox. In the early part of his career, he was used as a pitcher, and was one of the best in baseball, winning more than 20 games in both 1916 and 1917, and a league-leading 1.75 ERA in 1916.
By this time, the Red Sox saw Ruth's tremendous power as a hitter and began to use him more as an outfielder, so he could play everyday. In 1918, Ruth tied for the American League lead with 11 homers. The next year, he hit a major league record 29 home runs. His Red Sox had success too, winning the World Series in both 1916 and 1918. Ruth was 3-0 as a pitcher in the 2 World Series.
Boston owner Harry Frazee needed money to finance some Broadway shows, so sold Ruth to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season. The Red Sox wouldn't win another World Series until 2004, prompting many New Englanders to believe trading Ruth cursed the team ("The Curse of the Bambino").
As they say, the rest is history. Ruth obliterated his own single-season home run mark in 1920, with 54. George Sisler finished second...with a mere 19. In fact, Ruth outhomered every other TEAM that year, except for the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 1921, he upped the mark some more, bashing 59 home runs. In 1927, as part of one of the greatest teams as all-time, the Murderer's Row 1927 Yankees, Ruth hit a career high 60 four-baggers...a record that stood until Roger Maris broke it in 1961.
Ruth led the American League in home runs 12 times, in RBIs 6 times, in walks 11 times, slugging percentage 13 times, and so on and so on. The Bambino hit better than .300 every season from 1917 through 1933, except for 1925.
As a member of the Yankees (1920-1934), Ruth was a part of 4 World Series champions (1923, 1927, 1928, 1932). In the third game of the 1932 World Series, in Chicago's Wrigley Field, legend has it that Ruth pointed towards center field, and then proceeded to hit a home run in that direction. There's no conclusive proof of Ruth's "called shot", but it added to his legend (there was no conclusive photographic proof it happened, and newspaper accounts varied greatly. Many say Ruth was pointing at the taunting Cubs fans (or players) zgirll alludes to below, and not to center field. When interviewed about it, Ruth gave varying answers which didn't confirm or deny it. Regardless, there's no concrete proof Ruth actually called his shot.)
After 1934, the Yankees let Ruth go to the Boston Braves. Ruth, who desperately wanted to be a manager, played for the Braves in 1935, his last season.
His career stats set dozens of major league records, many which have been broken in the decades since. Ruth hit a career .342, with 714 homeruns (NOT 715, as stated in an above writeup; Hank Aaron broke this record with his 715th), and 2213 RBIs. As a pitcher, he was 94-46, with a 2.28 career ERA.
I feel the need to debunk a common Ruth myth here. While Ruth is portrayed as a fat slob in most movies, he was reasonably athletic for much of his career, finishing in the AL's top 10 in triples 4 times and in the top 10 in stolen bases twice.
Babe Ruth died of throat cancer on August 16, 1948, at just 53 years of age and is buried in Hawthorne, NY.
His importance to baseball was immense. Baseball was just coming off of the Black Sox Scandal when Ruth's career took off. He was responsible for the growth of baseball in those critical years.
Even today, more than 50 years after his death, Babe Ruth fascinates and amazes people and has been the subject of numerous books and films.
The Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore is an oft-overlooked tourist site, in walking distance from the Inner Harbor (I highly recommend it).
Ruth's a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame (obviously) and in 1999, ESPN's SportsCentury selected Ruth as #2 on their list of the 100 greatest North American athletes of the 20th century, behind only Michael Jordan (and many argue Ruth should've been #1).