Babe Ruth retired from baseball on this date in 1935- 82 years ago. Thinking on that- there are still people living who got to see The Babe play. It won’t be too long before that won’t be the case though. The Babe at least to me is without question the greatest baseball player ever and I don’t care what ESPN said at the end of the 20th Century with their countdown of Greatest North American Athletes- Ruth towers above everyone else. ESPN had Michael Jordan at #1 and Ruth #2. Hogwash.
The Babe started out as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and if he had played his entire career as a pitcher he most likely would be a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame- but he’d be an obscure figure today. He was such a great hitter they had to get him into the everyday line-up and when be became an everyday player he changed baseball forever with his home runs. Of course when everyone thinks of Ruth they think of him as a New York Yankee where he achieved his greatest feats and fame.
Think on this- in 1921 there were 477 home runs hit by the eight teams in the American League. The Babe had 59 of those. Ruth out-homered 5 teams that season. Ruth of course led the league with those 59 home runs. Who was second- Ken Williams of the Browns and Ruth’s teammate Bob Meusel with 24. So total those two players up and their 48 total isn’t close to The Babe. There have been few in any sport who when you look at their stats it makes you wonder- was there a typing error here? The Great Gretzky in hockey would be like that. Wilt Chamberlain’s stats in the NBA make you do a double take. Would Ruth dominate today’s game as he did back then? Unlikely but I would think The Babe would be still a dominating player.
Babe Ruth died at a young age- he was only 53 years old when he died on August 16th, 1948 but from all I’ve read over the years and heard, he lived a number of lifetimes in that brief life. The best biography I have read on The Bambino- is from the mid 1970’s- “The Babe -The Legend Comes To Live” by a brilliant writer named Robert Creamer. Highly recommended. There are a number of bio’s out there on Ruth and most are good reads but Creamer’s work remains the benchmark.
Forgot to note- Ruth ended his career on this date as a member of the Boston Braves. He went to the Braves in 1935 as his skills were fading and his weight was ballooning. The end was near but Ruth did have one last great moment- in May of 1935 he hit 3 home runs in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field and became the first player to hit one over the right field roof of that ballpark. I don’t think The Babe was human.