George Herman “Babe” Ruth was born on February 6th 1895 in Pigtown, Baltimore. He is probably the most well know baseball player to have ever lived, if you ask someone who doesn’t know baseball, they can name the Babe.
His career in the majors started in 1914 with the Boston Red Sox, as a pitcher. Unfortunately for Ruth, he was not exactly well-liked by his teammates who had several derogatory nicknames for him.
PITCHING AND BATTING AT BOSTON
In his rookie year as a pitcher, Ruth only pitched in 3 games and had a 2-1 (.667) record, pitching with a 3.91 era, he also had 10 at-bats with a .300 on-base percentage. For the next 5 years in Boston Babe Ruths’ pitch was consistent. His W-L% was 6.59 (87-45), his ERA for that period was also consistent, ranging from 1.75 in 1916 to 2.97 in 1919.
Babe Ruth was a good pitcher, however, he will always be remembered for his time at the plate. During his pitching years, Ruth was also batting, his stats for that period are as follows:
- G 391
- AB 1110
- R 202
- H 342
- RBI 224
- HR 49
- BA 0.308
Not to shabby, for a pitcher. Unfortunately for Boston, the fruits of Ruth’s labour were ignored by the Red Sox, who promptly sold him to Boston’s biggest rival the New York Yankees in 1920.
BABE RUTH: FIRST SEASON AS A YANKEE
Ruth on pitched for 3 games in 2 years when he got to New York, but his batting went into overdrive and that is where the real story starts.
His first game with the Yankees came on April 14th 1920, at Philadelphia, not exactly an auspicious start, going 2-4. His first home run for the Yankees didn’t come until May 1st, against his old team Boston, he had a double in the 4th inning, but hit a huge home run in the 6th inning.
The start of Ruth’s HR legend had now started. In May, Ruth totalled 12 home runs, another 12 in June and 13 in July. Ruth had hit 37 home runs in 4 months, ordinarily unheard-of.
By the end of his first year with the Yankees his batting stats were exceptional:
- G 142
- AB 457
- R 158
- H 172
- RBI 136
- HR 54
- BA 0.376
Ruth was a Yankee for a further 14 years, his batting statistics are phenomenal for that period in baseball. He held the home run record of 54 until 1932 when it was broken by Jimmie Foxx with 58, this was equalled in 1938 by Hank Greenburg. This would not be broken until 1961 when Roger Maris hit 61. It would not be for another 37 years before Maris’s record was broken in 1998 when Mark McGwire amassed 70 home runs, this record was then broken two years later when Barry Bonds hit 73.
Undoubtedly Babe Ruth will be remembered for his home runs, his overall batting stats for his 22-year career are still worth talking about. His career batting average was 0.342, there are many players today who probably won’t get that stat, other stats that should be lauded are:
- 2503 games
- 8399 at-bats
- 714 home runs
- 2214 runs batted in
A stat that shows Ruth’s real worth, is his slugging percentage, or his worth as a batter, for his career he had a SLG% of 0.690, but for 9 years of his career he was over 0.700. One important point to remember is that in the modern era a season is 162 games, in Ruth’s it was 154 games.
His teammates may not have always liked Ruth, but they couldn’t complain about his playing ability. The baseball fans of that era and even today loved Ruth. The Bambino will always be remembered with great affection by fans as long as there is baseball being played.
Complete career statistics for Babe Ruth can be found here Baseball Almanac