A Centennial Salute To The Babe

Lost amid all of the swirling problems arising from the Middle East and the Ukraine, among others, and the many scandals engulfing Barack Obummer, er, Obama, is the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s breaking into major league baseball. Babe Ruth is one of the great athletes produced by this country. His feats deserve some recognition in this centennial year.

It was 100 years ago, 1914, that The Babe, as a 19 year old, jumped from reform school into the major leagues. Enrolled at St. Mary’s School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland, since he was about 6 years old, in and out since then but mostly in, he was signed to his first professional contract with the then minor league Baltimore Orioles. Later that year he was sold to the Boston Red Sox.

Hidden among his many batting feats is the fact that Ruth was a premier American League pitcher for many years. He won 89 games for the Red Sox from 1914 to 1919, including 23 wins one year and 24 another. He also pitched 29 consecutive scoreless World Series innings during that stretch, a record that lasted for many years.

In 1919, after recognizing Ruth’s value as a hitter, Ruth became an every day player, playing as a full time outfielder for Boston. It was a momentous year for Ruth as he hit 29 home runs, setting a new major league record. No one had ever hit that many home runs in a single season before. But the best was yet to come.

Following the 1919 season, Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees. Harry Frazee, who owned the Red Sox, was also a Broadway producer and he needed money for a new show, “No No Nanette.” The sale of his biggest star helped to ease his financial strain.

In 1920, his first year as a Yankee, Ruth hit 54 home runs, an astounding feat, and another single season home run record. Ruth thus virtually single handedly helped the world of baseball awake from its lethargy following the Black Sox scandal of 1919, as fans clamored to get a glimpse of this budding new star. And then in 1921, as if to prove the previous year was no fluke, he hit 59 home runs, yet another single season record, the third year in a row for new home run records, a feat never since duplicated, as he led the Yankees to their first American League pennant. It was the first of many to come.

The 1920s was to see Ruth continue to hammer out home runs, including 60 in 1927, a record that stood for many years. In 1925, he was joined in the Yankee lineup by first baseman Lou Gehrig, who batted fourth, right behind the Babe. Together they became an integral part of the famous “murderers row” as the lineup was to become known, a lineup that was to give headaches to many pitchers in the coming years.

Ruth retired in 1935, finishing with 714 career home runs, a record that stood until finally eclipsed by Henry Aaron many years later. He was one of the charter members of baseball’s Hall of Fame, being one of the first five players elected in 1936.

Babe Ruth was truly a giant among baseball players. No one else in the annals of baseball has been both an outstanding pitcher as well as a great hitter. Ruth did a lot for the game of baseball. His accomplishments should be remembered as long as the game is played.

Copyright 2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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