Monumental, stellar, epic, legendary, the GOAT, terrific, scintillating, consistent, American hero, pop culture icon— these are just a few terms that still don’t do justice to Babe Ruth. “It only happens in the movies” is one of the most used phrases in sport that highlight a shell shocking performance. Had Ruth been a player of this generation, that message would have been played across the arena in a loop.
August 16 marks his 72nd death anniversary after his battle with cancer and on this day, the world of baseball can sit back and reflect about ‘The Bambino’s achievements each time he suited up for the Boston Red Sox. His true prowess, however, showed after a move to the New York Yankees.
Ideally, Ruth watching the 2020 MLB season would be torn when it comes to supporting either of the sides. The Yankees have been a far dominant unit so far this season and Ruth would be proud of where the team is. To many across the world, Ruth was a phenomenon and by no means was he human. His early playing days was at Baltimore’s St. Mary’s Industrial school. Soon after, a transition to Boston Red Sox followed where he won the side 89 games in six years.
Setting records may not have been on Ruth’s agenda, but he did so effortlessly and to date, they are the benchmarks for gen-next athletes. According to his official site, his lifetime stats read:
Batting average: .342.
Home runs: 714.
Pitching W/L record: 94-46.
In addition, he was also in the Top Ten in MLB history in the following categories:
3rd on home run list – 714.
10th in batting average – . 342.
2nd on RBI list – 2,213.
1st on all-time slugging % – . 690.
2nd on all-time on-base % – . 474.
1918 saw the decorated Red Sox unit clinch their fourth World title and they owed Ruth for three of them. The following year saw him smack 29 home runs at 113 RBI. (Stats via Baseball Hall of Fame). Then came the controversial trade when Red Sox owner sold Ruth to the Yankees following his successful 1919 season.
The Yankees may have paid $100,000, but in reality, Ruth was an asset whose records suggested a 3x surge to the money would be easily justified. 1920 saw him belt 54 home runs in a single season. Pad that up with 135 RBI and 158 Runs, it was a record the world could just watch with awe. According to Baseball Hall of Fame, Tommy Holmes, the sports writer had one thing to say about Ruth: “Some 20 years ago, I stopped talking about the Babe for the simple reason that I realized that those who had never seen him didn’t believe me.”
One of the highlights of Ruth’s striking was the sheer and crisp timing. The hits were sweet making that unmistakable “tok” each time his bat connected. Ruth’s hits were like fine wine— they got better by the day. As records indicate, Ruth would lead the Yankees to seven American League Pennants along with four World Series Titles.
Ruth’s secret to scoring home runs was simple: “How to hit home runs: I swing as hard as I can, and I try to swing right through the ball… The harder you grip the bat, the more you can swing it through the ball, and the farther the ball will go. I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.”
His teammate, Lefty Gomez compared his home runs to homing pigeons. “No one hit home runs the way Babe did. They were something special. They were like homing pigeons. The ball would leave the bat, pause briefly, suddenly gain its bearings then take off for the stands.” Ruth retired from baseball in 1935 and was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1946. It was a hard-fought battle as he died in 1953. To this day, Ruth’s records are still etched in history and he’s an icon the baseball world remembers fondly.