George Herman Ruth
Nickname: The Bambino, The Sultan of Swat
Born: February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland
Died: August 16, 1948 in New York, NY
Debut: 1914 | Pos: OF/P
H: 6'2" | W: 215 | B: L | T: L
Entire books have been written on the career and life of George Herman Ruth, known to fans as "The Babe" or "The Great Bambino" or even as the "Sultan of Swat."
One of the most dominant hitters in the game, Ruth could have also been the most dominant pitcher. In fact, his World Series pitching statistics are nearly as impressive as his World Series hitting statistics.
He pitched 3 games in the series, a total of 31 innings, and compiled a 3-0 record and a 0.87 ERA. His ERA still ranks third all-time for career series statistics. As a batter, he collected 42 hits in 41 games with 15 home runs and 33 RBI. He compiled a .326 career average in the World Series.
The following are just some of the exploits and achievements of Babe Ruth:
1914: Just after he turned 19, Babe Ruth signed a $600 contract with the minor league Baltimore Orioles. He immediately showed his promise, finishing the season with a 22-9 record and a 3.23 ERA. He pitched in four games that season for the Red Sox, finishing 2-1.
1915: 18-8 in 217.2 innings for the Red Sox. He finishes with a 2.44 ERA. At the plate, he had 29 hits, 4 HRs and 21 RBI.
1916: 23-12, 1.75 ERA. At the plate, he had 3 home runs.
1917: Ruth hits .325 with 2 home runs and 12 RBI. As a pitcher, he finished with a 2.01 ERA and a 24-13 record. It would be the last season he was used exclusively as a pitcher.
1918: Boston outfielder Harry Hooper approached the team's manager Ed Barrow and told him the team needed to get Ruth's bat into the lineup. Barrow said no. "I'd be the laughingstock of baseball if I took the best lefthander in the league and put him in the outfield," Barrow said. On May 6, Barrow changed his mind and started Ruth at firstbase. After that, Ruth played in the field when he wasn't pitching and the team was facing a right-hander. Ruth responded by hitting 11 home runs to lead the American League and pitching to a 13-7 record.
1919: Ruth began the season in the outfield and responded by hitting .322 with 114 RBI. His 29 home runs led baseball, shattering all previous HR records. Ruth became the first player to hit a home run in every park in his league in a season. He still pitched some -- finishing 9-5 in 133 innings pitched with a 2.97 ERA.
1920: The course of two baseball franchises and the game itself was forever altered in January 1920. The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000. It was the highest amount ever paid for a player, but the New York Yankees saw their home attendance double in the 1920 season. Ruth did his part. In 142 games, he hit an incredible 54 home runs and drove in 127 RBI. What is amazing is that his home run total was more than that of all other American and National League teams with the exception of the Philadelphia Phillies. He also set a record for slugging percentage (.847) that was only recently broken by Barry Bonds in his 73-HR season.
1921: Ruth bettered his home run record from 1920, hitting 59 in the season. The New York Yankees were bouyed to the team's first AL Pennant. The Yankees lost in a best-of-nine series to the Giants. Ruth broke previous records in total bases (477), runs (177), RBI (171), home runs (59), career home runs (137). He also picked up 2 pitching victories in the regular season.
1922: The Yankees won their second AL pennant but once again come up short to the New York Giants. Ruth had a disappointing series, hitting just .118. Ruth got in trouble with the league for a barnstorming tour that he took part in during the fall of 1921. Commissioner Landis suspended Ruth and teammate Bob Meusel for the first month of the season and Ruth's home run total dropped to 35.
1923: The Yankees won the AL pennant again and the Giants once again captured the NL flag to set up the third-straight World Series matchup between the two teams. Babe Ruth responded, hitting .368 with 3 home runs in the series. In the regular season, Ruth led the American League with 41 home runs, was runnerup in batting average with .393 and was named the AL MVP. He also set a new AL record when he reached base a total of 379 time in the season. On April 18, Yankee Stadium opened and Ruth christened the new facility with a 3-run home run in the Yankees 4-1 victory over Boston.
1924: Ruth led the American League in home runs (46) and batting average .378. He fell short in the Triple Crown by finishing second in RBIs with 121. The Yankees, however, finished 2 games behind AL Pennant Winner Washington (the World Series winner).
1925: In Spring Training, Ruth fell victim to his own indulgences of eating and drinking. He was diagnosed with an intestinal abscess. Ruth missed much of the season with stomach surgery and serving out a fine from New York manager Miller Huggins for insubordination. Ruth only appeared in 98 games and the Yankees finished the season at 69-85. Ruth hit .290 that season with 25 home runs and 66 RBI.
1926: After finishing in seventh place in 1925, expectations might have been low for the Yankees, but the team responded, winning its fourth AL Pennant. The Yankees came up short in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Ruth, however, hit 4 home runs in the series including 3 in a single game (a new series record). Ruth bounced back from his 1925 ailments and problems to lead the American League in home runs with 47 -- 28 home runs more than anyone else. He led the league in runs (139), total bases (365), RBI (146) and walks (144).
1927: Ruth teamed up with Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Bob Meusel to form "Murderer's Row." The four players drove in more than 100 runs each and the Yankees cruised to a World Series victory. Ruth set the new AL record for home runs by hitting an unheard of 60 -- more home runs than any other team in the American League. His teammate Lou Gehrig captures the AL MVP.
1928: The Yankees beat out the Athletics and return to the World Series where they sweep the Cardinals. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig combined to hit 7 home runs and drive in 13 runs in the series. Ruth sets a record for batting average in the series (.625) that stood until Billy Hatcher hit .750 in the 1990 series. In the regular season, Ruth hits 54 home runs to lead the AL and tied Gehrig for the AL lead in RBI with 142. He also leads the league in runs (163) and walks (135).
1929: The Yankees dominance in the American League took a tremendous hit. The Athletics finished 18 games in front of New York to win the AL Pennant. Babe Ruth leads the AL with 46 home runs. The Yankees season also had another tragedy. Manager Miller Huggins died suddenly on September 25.
1930: After a long holdout, Ruth signed a contract and was paid $80,000 in 1930, $5,000 more than President Herbert Hoover. When asked about it, Ruth delivered the famed quote, "I had a better year than he did." Ruth led the American League in home runs again with 49.
1931: The Athletics won the AL pennant for the third straight season. Ruth tied Gehrig with 46 home runs to lead the American League. It was the last time Ruth would lead the league in HRs. Between them, Ruth and Gehrig drove in 347 RBI. While the Yankees failed to win the pennant, the team averaged more than seven runs a game and scored a record 1,067 runs.
1932: The Yankees won the AL Pennant and moved on to face the Cubs in the World Series. Ruth hits two home runs and is credited with his famed and controversial called shot where he is said to have pointed out of the park before hitting a home run. In the regular season, Ruth hits 41 home runs and drove in 137 runs.
1933: Ruth hit .301 with 34 home runs. It is the last time he would lead the AL in an offensive category -- walks with 114. Ruth shines in the first All-Star Game, hitting the first home run.
1934: Ruth, now 39, hit .288 with 22 home runs and 84 RBI. However, Ruth hit is 700th career HR and appeared in the All-Star Game. Following the season, Ruth took part in a tour of Japan along with other players. It was Ruth's last full season in the Major Leagues.
1935: Ruth was released by the Yankees and ended up with the Braves, a team that finished dead last in the league. His career ended 28 games into the season after he hit .181 with 6 home runs. He retired just a few days after hitting 3 home runs in a game against Pittsburgh on May 25. In his last game, an out-of-shape Ruth injured his knee and had to take himself out in the first inning. Ruth ended his career with a lifetime average of .342. He led the league in runs eight times, home runs 12 times, RBI six times, and walks 11 times.
The Hall of Fame becomes a reality and six players are chosen for the first class. Ruth joins Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. Cobb is the leading vote getter.
The Hall of Fame was officially opened in 1939 and 25 players were inducted at that point. Ruth was among those attending the ceremony. Ruth was also on hand that year as a tearful Lou Gehrig brought his career to a close with his famed retirement speech. Ruth died in 1948. His record of 60 home runs in a season fell in 1961 to Roger Maris who hit 61.
Babe Ruth's mark on the New York Yankees is still evident today. Ruth still holds 4 of the top 5 single-season home run performance. His 171 RBI in 1921 is fourth all-time. He also holds team single-season records in runs (177 in 1921), total bases (457 in 1921), batting average (.393 in 1923) and slugging percentage (.847 in 1920). Ruth holds career records in runs (1,959), home runs (659), total bases (5,131) and batting average (.349).
Sources: 20th Century Baseball Chronicle, The Sports Encyclopedia, Baseball Almanac, Major League Baseball Fact Book.