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About George Herman Ruth, Jr.
Major League baseball player Babe Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture. Ruth was the first player to hit 60 home runs in one season (1927), setting the season record which stood until broken by Roger Maris in 1961. His lifetime total of 714 home runs at his retirement in 1935 was a record, until first surpassed by Hank Aaron in 1974. In 1936, Ruth became one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Born George Herman Ruth Jr.on February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, one of George Herman Ruth and Kate Schamberger's eight children. Of the eight, only George Jr. and a sister, Mamie, survived. Ruth's father owned a tavern, and running the business left him and his wife with little time to watch over their children. Young George began skipping school and getting into trouble. He also played baseball with other neighborhood children whenever possible.
At the age of 7, the trouble-making Ruth became too much of a handful for his busy parents. Routinely caught wandering the dockyards, drinking, chewing tobacco, and taunting local police officers, his parents finally decided he needed more discipline than they could give him. Ruth's family sent him to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a Catholic orphanage and reformatory that became Babe's home for the next 12 years. Ruth particularly looked up to a monk named Brother Mathias, who became a father figure to the young boy.
Mathias, along with several other monks of the order, introduced Ruth to baseball, a game at which the boy excelled. By the time he was 15, Ruth showed exceptional skill both as a strong hitter and pitcher. It was his pitching that initially caught the attention of Jack Dunn, the owner of the minor league Baltimore Orioles. At the time, the Orioles groomed players for the major league team known as the Boston Red Sox, and Dunn saw promise in Ruth's athletic performance. Only 19, the law at the time stated that Ruth had to have a legal guardian sign his baseball contract in order for him to play professionally. As a result, Dunn became Ruth's legal guardian, leading teammates to jokingly call Ruth "Dunn's new babe." The joke stuck, and Ruth quickly earned the nickname "Babe" Ruth.
Boston Red Sox
Ruth was only with the club for a short time before he was called up to the majors in Boston. The left-handed pitcher proved immediately to be a valuable member of the team. Over the next five years, Ruth led the Red Sox to three championships, including the 1916 title which saw him pitch a still-record 13 scoreless innings in one game.
In 1919 his twenty-nine home runs set a new record and led to the beginning of a new playing style. Up to that point home runs occurred very rarely, and baseball's best players were usually pitchers and high-average "singles" hitters. By 1920 Ruth's frequent home runs made the "big bang" style of play more popular and successful.
With its titles and the Babe, Boston was clearly the class act of the major leagues. All that would change, however, with a single stroke of a pen. Faced with financial hardships, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee needed cash to pay off his debts. In 1920 Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees for one hundred thousand dollars and a three hundred fifty thousand dollar loan.
New York Yankees
The deal came to shape both franchises in unforeseen ways. For Boston, the departure of the Babe spelled the end of the team's winning streak. It wouldn't be until 2004 that the club would win another World Series, a championship drought that later sports writers dubbed "The Curse of the Bambino."
For the New York Yankees, it was a different matter. With Ruth leading the way, New York turned into a dominant force, winning four World Series titles over the next 15 seasons. Ruth, who became a full-time outfielder, was at the heart of all the success, unleashing a level of power that had never been seen before in the game.
His achievements and personality made him a national celebrity. Off the field he enjoyed eating, drinking, and spending or giving away his money outright; he earned and spent thousands of dollars. By 1930 he was paid eighty thousand dollars for a season, a huge sum for that time, and his endorsement income (money received in return for public support of certain companies' products) usually added up to be more than his baseball salary.
Ruth led the Yankees to seven American League championships and four World Series titles. He led the league in home runs many times, and the 60 he hit in 1927 set a record for the 154-game season - a record that stood for 34 years. Ruth’s lifetime total of 714 home runs is second only to the 755 hit by Hank Aaron (1934–). With a .342 lifetime batting average for 22 seasons of play, many consider Babe Ruth the game's greatest player. The new Yankee Stadium (built in 1923) was dubbed "the house that Ruth built."
On May 25, 1935, an overweight and greatly diminished Babe Ruth reminded fans of his greatness one last time when hit three home runs in a single game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The following week, Ruth officially retired. He was one of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
Ruth had hoped to become a major league manager, but his reputation for being out of control made teams afraid to hire him. While he eventually earned the title of coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938, Ruth never achieved his goal of managing a major league team.
Known throughout his life as a generous man, he gave much of his time in his last years to charitable events instead. On June 13, 1948, he made one last appearance at Yankee Stadium to celebrate the building's 25th anniversary. Sick with cancer, Ruth had become a shadow of his former, gregarious self.
Two months later, on August 16, 1948, Babe Ruth died, leaving much of his estate to the Babe Ruth Foundation for underprivileged children. He was survived by his second wife, Claire, and his daughters, Dorothy and Julia.
Babe Ruth's Timeline
February 6, 1895
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
June 7, 1921
New York, NY, USA
April 17, 1929
August 16, 1948
New York City, New York, USA
Hawthorne, New York, USA