Babe Ruth “The Bambino”
Babe Ruth (born George Herman Ruth) had a tough upbringing in Baltimore. His family was a member of the troubled working class of Baltimore, and he and his eight siblings had a tight life in their apartment. Out of his siblings, only Babe and his sister would live to reach adulthood. Due to the nature of his situation, George Jr. turned to the streets, as he would get involved with shoplifting, public drinking, and would have multiple issues with the law as a child. George Jr. would be sent to St Mary’s, a trade boarding school for teens until 1914.
However, at St. Mary’s Ruth was able to show his aptitude for baseball and he would end up signing up with the Baltimore Oriole’s minor league team in 1914. On this team, he would earn the nickname Babe as he was referred to as one of the minor league owner Jack Dunn’s ‘babies’. Though he would eventually become known for his batting, he was a pitcher on this minor league team and was so successful that he would be bought out by the Boston Red Sox in that same year.
Babe Ruth’s career as a pitcher would get off to a great start, as in his first four years as a pitcher he would go on to win 87 games with an excellent ERA of 2.16. He would also win three world series games as a pitcher while receiving two world series rings (1916 and 1918). Babe Ruth was too good of a baseball player to be limited to pitching, however. His massive frame and coordination would allow him to be an excellent batter and he would bat for the team on days where he did not pitch. In 1919, he would set the single reason record for home runs with 29 in the season.
In 1920, Ruth would be sold to the Yankees and end up signing a 2-year contract for $10,000 a year, a large amount at the time. In his time with the Yankees, it would be clear to the public that Babe Ruth was the best hitter to ever play the game of baseball. It was here in New York where he would earn the nickname “The Great Bambino”, as a large number of Italian fans in New York dubbed him as the Great Bambino, literally translating to “the great baby boy”. In his first season in New York, he would once again set the record for home runs in a season with a ridiculous 54 home runs on the year. He would yet again set the record in the next season with 59 home runs on the year in 1921. In order to not lose Ruth, the Yankees would pay him a salary of $52,000 in 1922, making him the highest-paid player in the league by a large margin. Though he would deal with health and personal problems from 1922 to 1926, Ruth still produced excellent numbers for the New York Yankees.
The most dominant stretch of Ruth’s career was undoubtedly from 1926 to 1932. In this six-year time frame, Ruth would average 49 home runs per season with an average of .353 while also hitting a record 60 home runs in the 1927 season after teaming up with star Lou Gehrig. Additionally, he would lead the Yankees to win three more world series in this time frame. The 1932 world series would also be where Babe Ruth famously ‘called his shot’ as he signaled that he was going to hit a home run to the rowdy Chicago dugout and proceeded to hit one right to the area that he motioned to.
Post MLB Career/Legacy
Babe Ruth was inducted into the hall of fame in Cooperstown in its inaugural year of 1936. Ruth would get heavily involved in endorsements and appear as the spokesperson for many products in his retirement, keeping his popularity with the American public. Ruth would die of throat cancer in 1948. His funeral service in Yankee Stadium would attract 75,000 people, a testament to his greatness and legacy.
Babe Ruth is still regarded as the best baseball player of all time, and he completely changed the game with his emphasis on power and showmanship. Ruth will be a name never forgotten when discussing professional baseball.