On April 27, 1947, more than 58,000 fans filled Yankee Stadium to celebrate Babe Ruth Day, an occasion set aside to honor one of baseball's most legendary players.
Where Was Babe Ruth Born?
Less than two months before his death, Babe Ruth made his final appearance at Yankee Stadium on June 26, 1948. George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr., the son of German-American parents, was born on February 6, 1895, in the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. One of seven children born to George Herman Ruth Sr. and Katherine Schamberger, Ruth and his younger sister Mamie were the only two to survive beyond infancy. At the age of 7, Ruth's parents sent him to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, which functioned both as a reformatory and an orphanage. Years later, Ruth confided to reporters than he'd been a difficult child, skipping school often and drinking beer whenever he got the chance at the saloon where his father worked.
Where Did Ruth Learn the Game of Baseball?
Having acquired a reputation as a skillful stickball player by the time he was sent to St. Mary's, Ruth was drafted into the school's baseball team almost immediately by Brother Herman, the school's athletic director. Even though he was a left-hander, the boy started baseball as a catcher, a position rarely entrusted to lefties. He later went on to play third-base and shortstop and was forced to wear mitts and gloves that were made for right-handers. Ruth's mentor at St. Mary's was Nova Scotia-born Brother Matthias Boutlier, the school's prefect of discipline. Brother Matthias was also an excellent baseball player, of whom Ruth later said, "I think I was born as a hitter the first day I ever saw him hit a baseball."
How Did Ruth Get His Start in Professional Baseball?
In early 1914, Jack Dunn, owner and manager of the Baltimore Orioles, a minor league team in the International League, signed Ruth to a pro contract. With Ruth onboard as a pitcher, the Orioles began a successful season, but Dunn soon found himself in financial trouble and looked to sell Ruth's contract to another team owner. After a number of other deals fell through, the Boston Red Sox bought Ruth's contract. Although Ruth alternated between the pitching mound and the outfield during his years with the Red Sox, his skills as a batter were undeniable, with batting averages above .300 in four of the six seasons he played for Boston. In December 1919, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth's contract to the New York Yankees. This sale provides the foundation for the so-called Curse of the Bambino, a superstition sometimes used to explain the failure of the Red Sox to win a World Series in the 86 years following Ruth's departure.
What Baseball Records Were Set by Ruth?
Upon his retirement from the game in 1935, Ruth left baseball with a number of record accomplishments, some of which continued unbroken for decades. Ruth's career home runs totaled 714, a figure that was first topped on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run. Aaron went on to chalk up a total of 755 home runs in his career, only to have that record broken by Barry Bonds on August 7, 2007. Ruth also held the record for the most home runs -- 60 in 1927 -- in a season, which was first broken by Roger Maris in 1961. During his career, Ruth was credited with 2,213 runs batted in, a record that was broken by Hank Aaron on May 1, 1975. Ruth still ranks second in career RBIs to Aaron's career total of 2,297.
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