George Herman “Babe” Ruth, b. Baltimore, Md., Feb. 6, 1895, d. Aug. 16, 1948, was one of professional baseball’s greatest sluggers and probably the best-known player of the 1920s and early 1930s. As a New York Yankee, Ruth took the game out of the dead-ball era, saved it from the Black Sox scandal of 1919, and single-handedly revitalized the sport as the country’s national pastime. He teamed with Lou Gehrig to form what became the greatest one-two hitting punch in baseball and was the heart of the 1927 Yankees, a team regarded by some baseball experts as the best in baseball history. Nicknamed the Sultan of Swat, Ruth started his major league career as a left-handed pitcher with the Boston Red Sox in 1914. In 158 games for Boston he compiled a pitching record of 89 victories and 46 losses, including two 20-win seasons–23 wins in 1916 and 24 wins in 1917. He eventually added 5 more wins as a Yankee hurler and ended his pitching career with a 2.28 earned run average; he also had 3 wins against no losses in World Series competition, including one stretch of 292/3 consecutive scoreless innings. It is for his prowess at bat, not at the mound, however, that Ruth is remembered today. He was sold to New York by Boston following the 1919 season and after a permanent shift to the outfield responded by smashing a record 54 home runs while compiling a .376 batting average. In 22 seasons with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Boston Braves, Ruth led the league in home runs a record 12 times–including 59 in 1921 and a then-record 60 in 1927. He retired in 1935 with 714 career home runs, a record not surpassed until Hank Aaron’s performance in 1974. Ruth was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as one of the first five charter members.
Creamer, Robert, Babe (1974); Ruth, Claire M., with Bill Slocum, The Babe and I (1959); Ruth, George H., with Bob Considine, The Babe Ruth Story (1948); Smelser, Marshall, The Life That Ruth Built: A Biography (1975); Wagenheim, Kal, Babe Ruth (1974).
Babe Ruth (1895-1948) remains perhaps the most famous baseball player in history despite the fact that most of his batting records have been eclipsed. Before joining the New York Yankees, Ruth had been an outstanding pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees converted him into an outfielder, and Ruth led the team to four world championships (1923, 1927-28, 1932). (The Bettmann Archive)