Ruth, Babe 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.

Bibliography: 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). Picture
Captions 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)
Category: History

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