Babe Ruth

November 25, 2012 3:53 am

Baseball fans called him Babe, the Bambino, and the Sultan of Swat. He set home run records that lasted for decades. His full name was George Herman Ruth, and he became one of the greatest heroes in American sports.
Babe Ruth led the Boston Red Sox to three World Series championships. Then he helped make the New York Yankees the most successful major league team of his time.
Ruth overcame a troubled childhood to achieve baseball glory. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1895. The young Ruth fell in with a rough crowd on the streets of the city’s waterfront. When he was seven, he was sent to live in an orphanage and reform school. While there, a Roman Catholic priest taught Ruth to play baseball.
Young Ruth showed great promise as an all-around player. At the reform school, he played first base, third base, and the outfield when needed. He eventually became a catcher. One day during practice, Ruth took the pitching mound. Ruth had never pitched before, but he amazed onlookers with his powerful sidearm throwing style. Most of all, Ruth was a natural hitter, easily swatting balls from his first time at bat.
At the age of 19, Ruth signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league team. The owner, Jack Dunn, took the young ballplayer under his wing. People soon began calling Ruth “Dunn’s baby.” Eventually they just started calling him “Babe.” It was a sign of things to come when Babe hit a home run in his first professional at-bat.
Baltimore sold Ruth’s contract to the Boston Red Sox, and he made his major league debut in 1914. Although Ruth was signed as a pitcher, the Red Sox also used him as an outfielder. That way, he could play more games and get to bat more times. In 1919, Ruth led the major leagues with 29 home runs. No player had ever hit that many in a single season.
As a home run hitter, Ruth was just getting started. He was traded to the New York Yankees in 1920, and he hit 54 homers that year. The following year he hit 59, and in 1927 he hit 60. That stood as the major league, season home run record until Roger Maris of the Yankees hit 61 in 1961.
In 1923, the Yankees opened a new ballpark called Yankee Stadium. But fans soon began calling Yankee Stadium “The House That Ruth Built” to honor their hero. As a Yankee, Ruth played in seven World Series, with the Yankees winning four of them.
Ruth retired from baseball in 1935. Over the course of his 22-year major league career, he played in 2,503 games and had a lifetime batting average of .342. He hit a total of 714 home runs, drove in 2,213 runs, and scored 2,174 times. In 1936, Ruth was one of the first five players elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 1948.
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