When it comes to baseball there are a few names that ring out louder than the sound of the ball hitting the bat. Arguably one of the most famous is Babe Ruth. Read on for some interesting history about the Sultan of Swat.
1. Babe Ruth was born on February 6, 1895, as George Herman Ruth.
2. But for decades he thought his actual birthday was February 7th, 1894. He only discovered his real birthday after applying for a passport for a trip to Japan in 1934.
3. Ruth was sent to a Catholic Boys Reformatory school at the age of 7. Each child was trained with an industrial career. Ruth was trained to be a shirt maker.
4. Young George Ruth played baseball at the school, thanks to encouragement by the monks.
5. For a time, young Ruth lived above what is now Camden Yards in Baltimore, above one of his father's saloons.
6. He was signed to the major leagues at the age of 19.
7. He is the only baseball player in history to have the last name Ruth.
8. He was the first baseball player to hit a home run in the All-Star game, at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in 1933.
9. Why Babe? Some say it’s because Ruth was so young when signed to MLB he required legal guardianship and was “adopted” by one of the monks. Others say it was just because he was still merely a babe.
10. His other nicknames included Bambino, the Home Run King and The Sultan of Swat.
11. He began his career as a pitcher: Ruth was both a left-handed pitcher and left-handed batter.
12. Ruth played for the Boston Red Sox (1914-1919), the New York Yankees (1920-1934) and briefly the Boston Braves (1935).
13. Babe Ruth had what many consider to be his finest season in 1921. 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.
14. While the myth surrounding the "Curse of the Bambino" states Ruth was sold to finance the musical No, No, Nanette, it was, in fact, the musical My Lady Friends, which benefitted from the sale.
15. At an exhibition game (a “for fun” or charity game) on April 2, 1931, a 17-year-old female pitcher named Jackie Mitchell struck Ruth out (Mitchell then went on to strike out Lou Gehrig.)
16. Babe Ruth was knocked unconscious during a game at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. He hit a concrete wall trying to catch a foul ball.
17. Although many believed him past his prime, on May 25, 1935, Babe Ruth played one of his final games in the major leagues hitting 3 home runs in a single game. He retired the next week.
18. Babe Ruth retired in 1935 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. He was one of the first five players to be inducted. The Yankees retired his famous number 3.
19. Upon his retirement, he was the career record holder in home runs, RBIs, total bases, walks and strikeouts.
20. The Sultan of Swat played 2503 games in his Major League career. During that time he had 2174 runs and stole 123 bases. Of his runs, 714 were home runs. In 1927 alone he scored 60 home runs. (This was the world record until Hank Aaron hit 755 in 1974 and Barry Bonds reached 762 in 2007 for the all-time record.)
21. In 1922, you could get chocolate-covered ice cream balls called Babe Ruth Home Runs. They cost 10 cents.
22. The candy bar, Baby Ruth, is most likely named for Babe Ruth. The bar was formerly called Kandy Kake but the name was changed right around Ruth’s rise to popularity. Because “official” permission was not requested, the company (then the Curtiss Candy Co.) denied that Babe Ruth was the namesake. However, in 1995, the Babe Ruth estate licensed his name and likeness for use in a Baby Ruth marketing campaign with Nestle.
23. Babe Ruth appeared as himself in four different movies. In one, he lost 40 pounds in order to play a younger version of himself.
24. Yankee Stadium opened on April 18, 1923. Ruth hit the first home run there, earning it the name “The House that Ruth Built.” In 1947, Happy Chandler declared April 27 officially Babe Ruth Day, and Ruth addressed the crowds at Yankee Stadium. At the time, Ruth had already been diagnosed with throat cancer.
25. Babe Ruth died at the age of 53 in 1948. For two days, his coffin laid in state (open casket) at Yankee Stadium for fans to pay their final respects. More than 100,000 people attended.
—Amber Guetebier with Gabby Cullen
featured photo: Wikimedia Commons