Babe Ruth Day
annually on April 27th (since 1947)
Albert "Happy" Chandler Sr. on April 27th, 1947
George Herman Ruth Jr. was born on February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland. A baseball star who played as both a pitcher and an outfielder, he is most remembered for his hitting abilities. He was usually called Babe Ruth, but he was also known as "The Bambino," "The Sultan of Swat," and "The Colossus of Clout." On April 27, 1947, he arrived at Yankee Stadium for Babe Ruth Day. Just as he was honored that day, we once again honor him today.
It was not apparent from the start of his life that Babe Ruth would grow up to be a baseball star. After repeatedly getting into trouble, he was sent to a Catholic orphanage and reformatory at the age of seven, where he spent his next twelve years. He was nurtured by Brother Matthias, who along with other monks introduced him to baseball.
Jack Dunn, the owner of the then minor league Baltimore Orioles, caught notice of Ruth, and at the age of 19, Ruth joined the team. At the time he was still considered a minor, so Dunn became his legal guardian and signed his contract for him. Since Ruth was so young, he was jokingly called "Dunn's new babe" by his teammates, which led to him being called Babe Ruth.
At the time, the Orioles were a feeder team for the Boston Red Sox, and in short order, Ruth moved up to the major leagues. With Ruth playing as pitcher, the Boston Red Sox won three championships over five years. In 1919, Boston was facing fiscal hardships and gave up Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000. This ended up being an auspicious moment for the Yankees, who won four World Series over the next fifteen years, with Ruth on the team. On the other hand, Boston did not win another World Series until 2004.
Ruth switched to playing outfield during his time with the Yankees. The team built a new stadium in 1923, and because Ruth was so instrumental to their success, it became known as "The House That Ruth Built." In 1935, Ruth played his final season, as a member of the Boston Braves. It was a lackluster finish to his career, as he only hit six home runs that year.
During his 22 seasons, Babe Ruth broke many records, some of which still stand. He led the league in home runs for twelve years, a feat unmatched since. He also still holds the record for most total bases in a season, with 457. His slugging average of .847 in 1920 was the highest in the league until it was broken by Barry Bonds in 2001. He hit 714 home runs during his career, which was the most until his record was broken in 1974 by Hank Aaron. He is now third in all-time home runs, as Barry Bonds is now in the lead. He broke the record for most home runs in a year in 1919, knocking 29 into the stands. He broke his own record the following year when he moved to New York and hit a whopping 54 home runs. The following year he hit 59, and in 1927 he hit 60, a record that stood until it was broken by Roger Maris in 1961. These achievements illustrate to us why he was one of the first five players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The inaugural class was inducted in 1936, just one year after Babe Ruth retired.
Besides being a stellar player, Babe Ruth was known for his fast lifestyle off the field. He was fond of food, good cigars, and alcohol. He was a womanizer who liked to spend his money on things like nice cars. But he was also known for being very generous, and for inspiring children to play baseball.
On April 27, 1947, Babe Ruth arrived at Yankee Stadium. Baseball Commissioner Albert "Happy" Chandler Sr. designated the day as Babe Ruth Day, and Ruth and others addressed a crowd of 58,339 fans. The remarks of the day were also broadcasted to stadiums around the country. Recently diagnosed with throat cancer, Babe Ruth spoke in a quiet, raspy voice, and needed help walking.
After Babe Ruth Day, Ruth was at Yankee Stadium just one more time, on June 13, 1948, for the stadium's 25th anniversary (this stadium was used through 2008, and was then replaced by a new Yankee Stadium), and to retire his number—number 3. He died from his cancer on August 18, 1948, at the age of 53. His open coffin was displayed at Yankee Stadium, and almost 100,000 came to pay their respects.
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by listening to the audio from Babe Ruth Day in 1947, which includes Commissioner Chandler, a 13-year-old boy named Larry Cutler, and Babe Ruth. The pain that Ruth was feeling can be heard in his voice. You could watch a biographical film about Babe Ruth, such as The Babe or The Babe Ruth Story, although the latter was panned by critics. You could also watch one of the films Ruth appeared in. A biography on Ruth could be read as well. For those who want to hit their celebration out of the ballpark, the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum or the National Baseball Hall of Fame could be visited. Finally, today is an excellent excuse to eat a few Baby Ruth candy bars.