On April 27, baseball fans around the country honor one of baseball’s all-time greatest players on National Babe Ruth Day.
George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr., born on February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland was nicknamed “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat.” Spending 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), he played for three teams from 1914 to 1935.
- Babe Ruth’s baseball career started as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He became a full-time right-fielder when the New York Yankees bought his contract in 1919. Being one of the league’s most prolific hitters, he helped the Yankees win seven pennants and four World Series titles.
- Ruth set career records, in his time, for home runs, slugging percentage, runs batted in, and on-base plus slugging. In 1927, he was the very first player to hit 60 home runs in one season.
- Following a short stint with the Boston Braves, Ruth retired in 1935. In 1936, he became one of the first five players to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
- In 1946, after experiencing severe eye pain and difficulty swallowing, Babe Ruth was diagnosed with cancer. On April 27, 1947, he was able to attend the proclaimed Babe Ruth Day and spoke briefly to a crowd of almost 60,000 people at Yankee Stadium.
- At the age of 53, on August 16, 1948, at 8:01 pm, Babe Ruth died in his sleep.
- Babe Ruth hit the first home run in the history of the All Star Game, at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in 1933.
- Babe Ruth was one of only two people to ever hit three home runs in a World Series game.
- The Babe played in 163 games as a pitcher, winning 92 and losing 44, for a percentage of .676, he was one of the best left-handed pitchers the game has ever known.
- He was signed to the major leagues at the age of 19.
- 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.
- 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.)
- In 1922, you could get chocolate-covered ice cream balls called Babe Ruth Home Runs. They cost 10 cents.
- 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.
- Babe Ruth appeared as himself in four different movies. In one, he lost 40 pounds in order to play a younger version of himself.
- 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.
- He was the very first player to hit home runs in all the eight ballparks in the league.
- Ruth lived for a time on the site of what is now Oriole Park at Camden Yards, above one of his father’s string of saloons.
- He hit his first professional home run on March 7, 1914, in Fayetteville, N.C., during an intrasquad game in which he played shortstop.
- Ruth’s first official professional home run came on Sept. 5, 1914 for the Providence Grays of the International League, where he had been sent by the Red Sox for more seasoning the month before.
- In six seasons with Ruth, the Red Sox won three World Series titles. In 107 seasons without him they have won four.
- In Game 2 of the 1916 World Series, Ruth pitched 14-inning complete game to beat the Dodgers 2-1. It is still the most innings ever thrown by one pitcher in a single postseason game.
- Ruth’s first major league home run came against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds on May 6, 1915. Exactly three years later, in the same ballpark, Ruth hit a home run in his first start at a position (1B) other than pitcher.
- Only five teams hit more home runs than Ruth did by himself in 1919 (not counting Ruth’s own Red Sox), and only two teams had more than his total in 1920 (this time including Ruth’s Yankees, who hit 61 in addition to his 54). Ruth also hit more home runs than half of the teams in baseball in 1921.
- Yankee Stadium, dubbed “The House That Ruth Built” by sportswriter Fred Lieb, opened on April 18, 1923. Ruth hit the new ballpark’s first home run, a three-run shot in the third inning off the Red Sox’ Howard Ehmke, the key blow in the Yankees’ 4-1 victory.
- With Ruth’s health failing, April 27, 1947 was declared Babe Ruth Day around the major leagues by commissioner Happy Chandler. Ruth famously addressed the crowd at Yankee Stadium that day, his voice reduced to a hoarse croak by cancer. You can listen to Ruth’s speech here.