Babe Ruth is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) baseball players. He was so popular in the early-to-mid 1920s that it was often joked newspapers lacked sports sections; they had Babe Ruth segments where game scores and results happened to be mentioned. He was part of the Murderers’ Row, a New Yankees’ generation of players considered the greatest baseball squads to ever take the field. Here, we discuss more mind-boggling Babe Ruth facts you probably didn’t know.
1. Babe Ruth Hit a Special Homerun for a Sick Kid in 1926
When Babe Ruth learned of a hospitalized 11-year-old boy called Johnny Sylvester, he promised to hit a home run on his behalf. True to his word, Babe Ruth hit a home run in the 1926 World Series – it is one of the most popular editions to date. As expected, when the news became public, the media cashed in and exaggerated it. It was even alleged that by doing so, Babe Ruth had singlehandedly saved Sylvester’s life.
2. A Rumor That Babe Ruth Had Died Resulted in Circulation of Premature Obituaries
In 1925, not many things went in Babe Ruth’s favor. First, he had gained too much weight, which was unevenly distributed in his body – he had a larger upper body but thin wrists and legs. Babe Ruth was also constantly sick. At one point, he collapsed in Asheville, North Carolina, and was hospitalized. A rumor circulated that he had died, resulting in the circulation of his premature obituaries.
3. “The Bellyache Heard Round the World” Phrase Came from Babe Ruth’s Eating Habits
Babe Ruth loved soda pop and hot dogs; he ate them at every opportunity. While he was diagnosed with multiple convulsions, sportswriter W. O. McGeehan wrote that the athlete’s sickness resulted from taking too many of the snacks. The famous phrase “the bellyache heard around the world” originated here.
4. Babe Ruth Never Managed Any Base Ball Team
Given what he had achieved as a player, almost everyone expected Babe Ruth would take on a managerial role after retirement. Surprisingly, that never happened – nobody even showed interest in acquiring his services. Most team owners and general managers assessed Babe Ruth’s flamboyant lifestyle and decided he wasn’t a perfect fit for their projects. One expressed concerns that if Babe Ruth couldn’t manage himself, how could he manage a baseball team?
5. He Was Born George Herman Ruth Jr.
Babe Ruth was born on February 6, 1895. His given name was George Herman Ruth Jr. – it remains unclear how he got the moniker “Babe” as different accounts are available. The most widely accepted one is that when the baseball star joined Jack Dunn’s minor-league Baltimore Orioles, the senior players referred to him as Dunn’s Babe (or some variant).
Others say the name came from Ruth’s inability to maintain proper etiquette while eating in a restaurant, hotel, or train. Either way, “Babe” was a common nickname in Baseball at the time – Pittsburgh Pirates’ Pitcher Babe Adams also went by the same moniker because he appeared young for his age.
6. Babe Ruth’s Red Sox Teammates Considered Him Brash
For the rookie that he was, most of Babe Ruth’s teammates at the Boston Red Sox considered him rude and arrogant. They preferred that Babe Ruth remain quiet and inconspicuous, but that was not the case. Instead, the future star demanded that he take batting practice despite being a pitcher who didn’t play regularly. Babe Ruth’s teammates eventually sawed his bats in half.
7. He Had Many Nicknames, Some Were Distasteful
While “Babe” and the “Bambino” were the nicknames that eventually stuck, Ruth had many others, some of which were distasteful. For instance, while he was at St. Mary’s, his peers called him “Niggerlips.” It continued to Red Sox, where the senior players called him “the Big Baboon.”
8. Babe Ruth’s Transfer to New York Yankees Was Considered “The Sports Steal of the Century”
On January 5, 1920, Babe Ruth stole the headlines when transferred to the New York Yankees. His switch was as controversial as it can be. First, many thought there wasn’t a reason for the Red Sox to sell their star player, especially after he had led them to a massive victory.
However, it was thought that the star wanted his contract re-evaluated and threatened to down his tools. He divided the Red Sox fans – many blamed the team’s management for selling him. In contrast, others agreed that Babe Ruth had become unmanageable.
9. The Phrase, “Curse of the Bambino”, Was Coined after Babe Ruth’s Departure from The Red Sox
Between 1903 and 1919, the Red Sox won five of the 16 World Series. After Babe Ruth left in 1920, the team won nothing until 1946. It took them until 2004 to win another World Series, resulting in a baseball superstition called “the Curse of the Bambino.”
10. Babe Ruth Singlehandedly Filled Stadiums
Babe Ruth singlehandedly pulled crowds and filled stadiums after his move to New York Yankees and breaking the record for the most home runs. For instance, on May 16, 1920, Ruth and the Yankees attracted 38,600 people to the Polo Grounds. At the time, this was such a big deal. To imagine that over 15,000 fans were locked out makes it more astonishing.
11. He Was Among the Highest Paid Ballplayers
In 1922, Babe Ruth renewed his contract with the New York Yankees, which would see him earn $52,000 annually. His salary more than doubled the second-highest ballplayer, representing 40% of the team’s overall player payroll.
12. Babe Ruth Had Several Disciplinary Issues
As much as Babe Ruth was a force to reckon with as a player, he had little to like about as a person. He was often suspended or in a controversy. In 1992, he was removed from a game after he threw dust in umpire George Hildebrand’s face. He also climbed to the stands to confront a fan who called him “a big piece of cheese,” resulting in being stripped of his captaincy role.
13. He Died At the Age of 53
In 1946, Babe Ruth was diagnosed with lymphoepithelioma. Tests showed that he had an inoperable malignant tumor at his skull’s base and neck, which affected his vision and swallowing. Given his fame, Babe Ruth was among the first people to be treated with both drugs and radiation treatment. He unfortunately passed away in 1948 at the age of 53.
14. Some Voters Didn’t Want Babe Ruth to Be Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame
Despite the many baseball records that Babe Ruth broke, some voters felt that he still didn’t deserve to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Of the 226 voters, 11 voted Babe Ruth out; TY Cobb was the most preferred candidate. He eventually became a Hall of Famer, but it wasn’t unanimously.