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Lovable Ruth was everyone's Babe

By the Babe

About the Babe





Tuesday, July 6, 2004
More Info on Babe Ruth
By Nick Acocella
Special to ESPN.com


Signature Game
Sept. 30, 1927 - When Ruth hit his 50th homer on September 11 he talked of breaking his 1921 record of 59, even though there were just 17 games left in the season. With nine contests remaining, Babe still needed seven. With four games left, he needed four, but then he belted three homers in two games, including two grand slams.

In the eighth inning of the next-to-last game of the season, Babe crushed a pitch from Washington left-hander Tom Zachary down the rightfield line at Yankee Stadium, just fair, for No. 60. While Zachary yelled, "Foul ball! Foul ball!" and argued with the umpire, Babe made a regal tour of the bases, slowly jogging around them to the joy of some 10,000 fans.

In the clubhouse after his two-run homer gave the Yankees a 4-2 victory, Babe whooped it up over his breaking the record.

Babe, who walked a major-league leading 138 times, hit his 60 homers in 540 at-bats, a rate of one homer every nine at-bats. His 60 homers were more than any of the other seven American League teams hit that season. He drove in 164 runs, second in the majors to teammate Lou Gehrig, who had 175 RBI and 47 homers.

Babe by the numbers

Career Hitting
Year TM/L AB Hits Runs BA HR RBI OBP SLG
1914 Bos-A 10 2 1 .200 0 2 .200 .300
1915 Bos-A 92 29 16 .315 4 21 .376 .576
1916 Bos-A 136 37 18 .272 3 15 .322 .419
1917 Bos-A 123 40 14 .325 2 12 .385 .472
1918 Bos-A 317 95 50 .300 11 66 .410 .555
1919 Bos-A 432 139 103 .322 29 114 .456 .657
1920 NY-A 458 172 158 .376 54 137 .530 .847
1921 NY-A 540 204 177 .378 59 171 .512 .846
1922 NY-A 406 128 94 .315 35 99 .434 .672
1923 NY-A 522 205 151 .393 41 131 .545 .764
1924 NY-A 529 200 143 .378 46 121 .513 .739
1925 NY-A 359 104 61 .290 25 66 .393 .543
1926 NY-A 495 184 139 .372 47 146 .516 .737
1927 NY-A 540 192 158 .356 60 164 .487 .772
1928 NY-A 536 173 163 .323 54 142 .461 .709
1929 NY-A 499 172 121 .345 46 154 .430 .697
1930 NY-A 518 186 150 .359 49 153 .493 .732
1931 NY-A 534 199 149 .373 46 163 .495 .700
1932 NY-A 457 156 120 .341 41 137 .489 .661
1933 NY-A 459 138 97 .301 34 103 .442 .582
1934 NY-A 365 105 78 .288 22 84 .447 .537
1935 Bos-N 72 13 13 .181 6 12 .359 .431
Total

8399 2873 2174 .342 714 2213 .474 .690

*Statistics in bold denote league leader

Career Pitching
Year Tm/Lg G Inn Pitch Comp.
Games
Hits Strike
Outs
BB W L ERA
1914 Bos-A 4 23 1 21 3 7 2 1 3.91
1915 Bos-A 32 218 16 166 112 85 18 8 2.44
1916 Bos-A 44 324 23 230 170 118 23 12 1.75
1917 Bos-A 41 326 35 244 128 108 24 13 2.01
1918 Bos-A 20 166 18 125 40 49 13 7 2.22
1919 Bos-A 17 133 12 148 30 58 9 5 2.97
1920 NY-A 1 4 0 3 0 2 1 0 4.5
1921 NY-A 2 9 0 14 2 9 2 0 9
1930 NY-A 1 9 1 11 3 2 1 0 3
1933 NY-A 1 9 1 12 0 3 1 0 5
TOTAL - 163 1221 107 974 488 441 94 46 2.28

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Before owner Jack Dunn of the minor league Baltimore Orioles sold Ruth to the Boston Red Sox in 1914, he offered the left-hander to Connie Mack, but the Philadelphia Athletics owner-manager was already contemplating the breakup of his first great team and passed.

  • New York Giants manager John McGraw was so furious with Dunn over not being offered the promising youngster that he refused ever again to do business with the Orioles. McGraw's pique caused him to refuse Dunn's offer of Lefty Grove a decade later.

  • From 1915-17, Ruth won 65 games, more than any other southpaw in the majors.

  • On June 23, 1917, Ruth walked Ray Morgan, the first Washington batter, and was ejected after protesting the call and assaulting umpire Brick Owens. (Ruth had to be led off the field by a policeman.) Ernie Shore relieved and after Morgan was thrown out stealing, Shore retired the next 26 batters and made Ruth a footnote to an all-but-perfect game.

  • Red Sox captain Harry Hooper suggested to manager Ed Barrow in spring training of 1918 that Ruth be an everyday player. Barrow responded that he'd be "investigated if he moved the best left-handed pitcher in the game into the outfield." However, by early May, Ruth was playing first base and finished the season as a fulltime outfielder when he wasn't pitching.

  • When Ruth hit 29 homers in 1919, the newspapers followed his exploits in great detail as he passed Socks Seybold's American League record 16 (with the Athletics in 1902), Gavvy Cravath's modern major league record 24 (with the Phillies in 1915), and Buck Freeman's 25, believed to be the 19th-century record (with the old National League Washington Senators in 1899). Then, someone rummaging in old newspapers rediscovered that Ned Williamson of the N.L. Chicago franchise had hit 27 in 1884, but that mark, too, fell to the new home-run king.

  • When the Red Sox sold Ruth to the Yankees on Dec. 26, 1919, the $100,000 price was twice the amount of any previous player transaction. The deal also included a $300,000 loan secured by a mortgage on Fenway Park, a contractual clause that made the Yankees owners the Red Sox's landlords.

  • Ruth's slugging-percentage record of .847, set in 1920, lasted 81 years - until Barry Bonds had an .863 mark in 2001.

  • Although Ruth's two most famous records -- 60 homers in 1927 and 714 overall -- have been erased, his home-run totals become staggeringly impressive in the context of his era. His 29 in 1919 were 17 better than the next highest total (Cravath's National League-leading 12), while the team high was the Yankees' 45.

  • In 1920, when Ruth hit 54 homers (more than any team except the Phillies' 64), the runner-up was George Sisler with 19.

  • In 1921, Ruth broke Roger Connor's career record of 136 round-trippers -- in only his third full season as an outfielder. When he reached 700 homers in 1934, only two other players had as many as 300. When he retired in 1935 with 714, he had more than twice as many as anybody.

  • Babe ranks No. 1 in at-bats per RBI at 3.80 (2,212 RBI in 8,399 at-bats).

  • Ruth's slugging changed the sport in substantive ways. Eager to cash in on the popularity of his power hitting, the owners created the lively ball and outlawed the spitball and other trick pitches in 1921. As a result, league batting averages jumped 35 points, and runs increased from about 9,000 a year in the 1910s to almost 12,000 in the 1920s.

  • Adoring fans turned out in huge numbers to enjoy the new power game, with the 1920 Yankees becoming the first club to reach one million in home attendance.

  • Ruth altered the salary structure of the game - via a trickle-down effect. His highest salary was $80,000 annually in 1930 and 1931. He suffered a $5,000 pay cut in 1932 despite hitting .373, leading the majors in 1931 with a .700 slugging percentage, tying for the lead in homers with 46 and knocking in 163 runs.

  • When Babe stopped playing, the new king of paychecks was Gehrig, who was receiving $30,000. Nevertheless, Ruth's salaries, as gargantuan as his home runs, helped jack up major-league wages across the board, so much so that teammate Waite Hoyt said years later, "Every big leaguer and his wife should teach their children to pray, 'God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy, and God bless Babe Ruth.' "





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