It’s February 6th, 2011 and the Super Bowl just ended, so can we finally focus on the true miracle that went down on this day? Babe Ruth was born 116 years ago, and his legend grows even today. Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player that ever lived. Period. This is not a controversial statement. At least it shouldn’t be… I won’t go so far as to say he was the greatest athlete that ever lived (immediately guys like Jim Thorpe and Bo Jackson come to mind), but there was no one better than George Herman Ruth on the diamond. Using all my willpower, I will refrain from continually dropping stats on you, because his greatness just becomes too overwhelming.
For those who don’t know, before Babe Ruth became the greatest power hitter ever, he just happened to be one of the best pitchers in the American League. Again, because most people don’t know him as a pitcher, I’ll drop a few succinct stats. He was a rookie pitcher in 1914. In 1916, Babe pitched 323 2/3 innings, he allowed ZERO home runs. Oh, and he won 23 of those games. In fact, he won over 20 games twice, and he held the record for consecutive World Series shutout innings… for 40 years. Don’t be fooled into thinking his passion was always hitting though. Even as a Red Sox, he wanted to pitch less and bat more. Below you see him as a kid… bat in hand. (I’m not even sure this photo is real, it’s so awesome. He’s so young… maybe his minor league days with the Baltimore Orioles?)
His days with the Boston Red Sox are well documented, and the trade to the Yankees…and the impending “Curse of the Bambino” changed baseball history as we know it.
So, once the trade went down in 1919, the Yanks threw him in the outfield of Yankee Stadium, which of course, went on to be synonymous with “The House that Ruth Built”. There he became the most prolific home run hitter the game has ever seen. Just to put his power in prospective… in 1920, Ruth hit 54 home runs…the entire St. Louis Browns team, only hit 50 home runs. The next player behind him? George Sisler, had only 19 bombs. I’ll throw this picture below of Sisler because I actually own this card, and I love it.
Everybody knows how amazing the Babe was with the Yankees… they brought in 7 pennants and 4 World Series titles with Ruth on the team, but the story that still captures the hearts of all baseball fans is the “called shot” during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series… did he or didn’t he? Watch this MLB video here and decide for yourself.
Babe grew older and fatter, and was eventually traded to the Boston Braves in 1935. He only played there for one year and it still looks goofy to see him in that uniform.
After playing his last game with the Braves in 1935, the very next year, the Babe was one of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Two years later, in what I’d call a major publicity stunt in Brooklyn, knowing the fan base he had in New York, the Dodgers hired him to be their first base coach. He quit after the season was over, officially ending his career in Major League Baseball. If you thought he looked weird in a Braves uniform, imagine being a Yankees fan from the Bronx seeing him coaching first over in Brooklyn wearing Dodger Blue.
Still doubt he’s the best ever to play baseball? Remember that World Series consecutive shutout innings record I mentioned? Well, over the course of 31 years, he simultaneously held that record (29 shutout innings) and the World Series record for homers hit (15 HR’s)… at the same time. Still don’t agree with me? I guess I’ll have to drop the ultimate trump card when it comes to arguing baseball greatness. Click here.
Oh, and because I’m a sucker for baseball cards… below is my favorite Ruth card, a 1933 Goudey, as well as his rookie card for the Red Sox, a 1915 Sporting news card. Cheers.