George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth also known as ‘the king of swing’ was born on February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland. His parent’s long working hours left no time to look after Ruth and his sister which allowed him to become a bit unruly. This behaviour worried his parents and led them to send him to St. Mary’s industrial school for boys.
Fortunately, the school proved to be a blessing in disguise for little Ruth as it helped shape his career in Baseball under the guidance of Brother Matthias, an old monk at St. Mary’s.
July 11, 1914 was the day, 19 year old ‘Babe’ starting pitcher for the Boston red sox made an impressive debut by marking victory against Cleveland Naps.
It was his sheer brilliance and passion for the game that even after a century, he is instantly recognised among baseball lovers as- ‘The Babe’ and is still a benchmark for new players.
Here are some lesser known facts about his life-
1.Whilst still being at school, Babe was able to play so well that his mentor brothers invited Jack Dunn, owner of Baltimore Orioles to watch Ruth play. Dunn was so impressed with Babe’s game that he offered contract only after watching him play for less than an hour! Orioles players referred to him as ‘Jack’s newest babe’. And, that is how the most popular nickname in American sports history was made.
2.George Jr. is famed for being a terrific slugger but, not many know he kick started as a pitcher. Not to say he was too good at that too.
3.Ruth passed his entire life thinking he was an year older than he actually was. It is now accepted that he was born on Feb 6, 1895 but, Babe thought he was born on Feb 7, 1894. A birth certificate with that date for an unnamed child was probably used for him by his parents.
4.Unguided childhood led Ruth to get into dangerous habits. He had already chewed tobacco and drank wisky even before he was 8. He was listed as ‘incorrigible’ in school. This intractable behaviour forced his parents to send him to St Mary’s, a catholic reform school.
5.He went to jail for reckless driving twice. Ruth loved drinking, eating copious amounts of food and driving. He loved driving his car really really fast and that led him to crash it a couple of times. Once, he was arrested for overspeeding in Manhattan and was made to spend the rest of the time in jail. He was released 45 minutes before the start of the game and sped off with Yankee uniform under his clothes with a motarcycle escort.
6.In 1926, Babe Ruth heard about an 11-year-old boy named Johnny Sylvester who was in the hospital after he met a near fatal accident. The doctors weren’t sure if he was going to survive. Babe Ruth promised to hit a home run for Johnny. In the next game, Babe not only hit one home run, he hit three. Johnny, upon hearing the news of Babe’s home runs, started to feel better. Babe went to the hospital later to meet Johnny personally.
7.Ruth did NOT retire as Yankee. He wanted to serve as manager of them but, his wild life forced the team owner to consider him as unsuitable for managing the entire team. He later shifted to Boston Braves hoping to become manager there. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out either. That is when Babe decided to retire.
8.During the third game of the 1932 World Series, the Yankees were in a heated competition with the Chicago Cubs. When Babe Ruth stepped up to the plate, Cub players heckled him and some fans even threw fruit at him which obviously angered Ruth.The incensed Babe Ruth pointed out to center field. With the next pitch, Babe struck the ball exactly where he had pointed out. This came to be known as a ‘called shot’. The story became immensely popular, though it was not very clear if Babe meant to call his shot or was just pointing at the pitcher.
9.Even after his retirement, Ruth didn’t stay idle. He played golf, went bowling, visited sick children in hospitals.
10.In 1946, Ruth went to hospital complaining hideous pain above his left eye. He was diagnosed with cancer in his neck which had a malignant tumor. His health deteriorated quickly. Cancer came back after surgery and he died at the age of 53 on August 16, 1948. On his funeral at St. Patrick’s cathedral an overwhelming number of 100,000 people came to pay final tributes to the Sultan of of Swat.