Baseball enthusiasts and those who have never seen a game in their life have one thing in common. They have all probably heard the name Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth not only brought notoriety to the sport of baseball, but he was also America’s first national hero. Fans affectionately called him “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat” because of his majestic batting abilities. By achieving great heights during his record-setting career, Babe Ruth attracted the public spotlight and became a fixture in American culture. While Babe Ruth ended his career on a silent note, archivists and fans will continue to marvel at the legacy of Babe Ruth.
The Early Years of Babe Ruth
Born as George Herman Ruth, Jr., “Babe” Ruth was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1895. As a youth, Ruth attended St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys where he first developed a knack for baseball. The school was known as a strict disciplinarian environment but also instilled in Ruth a sense of social obligation. Throughout his life, Ruth would also be known for his charitable works. Soon after leaving the reformatory, Ruth signed his first contract to play for the Baltimore Orioles in the minor leagues. Recognizing Ruth’s talent, the Boston Red Sox signed Ruth, beginning his major league career in baseball.
The Major League Career of Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth had a long and distinguished career in Major League Baseball. The star signed with the Boston Red Sox in 1914, beginning his ascent to fame. From the start, Ruth showed great promise as a major league hitter. In his first game against with the Red Sox, Ruth struck out the Cleveland Naps, leading the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory. In 1920, Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees where he accomplished some of his most impressive hitting records. Ruth stayed in New York until 1934 when he quietly ended his career with the Boston Braves.
The Legacy of Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth enjoyed a modest life until he passed away from cancer in 1948. When considering the achievements of Babe Ruth, it can be tough to remember which records he hasn’t broken. During his career he broke the record for home runs, hitting 714 total. He broke the slugging percentage record with a record of .690. His total career RBIs was a soaring 2,213. And the list goes on. There are few hitters in history who have achieved the acclaim of Babe Ruth.
Yet, those who assess the legacy of Ruth would be remiss to overlook the problems his personal life caused to his career. Known for his drinking and affairs, Ruth also sets the mold as a celebrity who was “larger than life.” But during his time, public figures were dealt with more harshly when their exploits conflicted with the values of the public. Following Ruth’s retirement, the Dodgers and Brooklyn turned down his request for a managerial position. When justifying this decision, general managers cited Ruth’s personal life as an indicator that the celebrity was unfit to manage a team.
In light of Ruth’s contributions to the sport and the degree of latitude afforded to celebrities today, these criticisms might be harsh. Though Ruth was eventually shunned from the very sport he helped to define, he will always be renowned for the charisma and talent that he brought to the game.