Babe Ruth is arguably the most famous baseball player in history and one who, according to Gary McClure, overcame impossible odds to become a legend.
Q: How did Babe Ruth’s childhood experiences influence his adult accomplishments?
Gary McClure: “The Bambino” was born George Herman Ruth in February of 1895. His working class family struggled to care for Ruth, who by all accounts was an unruly, authority-defiant boy. Ruth was sent to live at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys at the age of 7. Ruth’s mother died when he was 12 and he never returned home. While at the school, he met Brother Matthias Boutlier, a school staffer and adept ball player.
Q: What lessons did Brother Mathias teach Ruth about baseball?
Gary McClure: Ruth was mesmerized by Mathias’ hitting skills from day one. Ruth has often been quoted as saying that he was “born” into ball after watching Mathias play. The two were close, and Ruth stylized his game after that of his mentor.
Q: When did Ruth sign his first professional ball contract?
Gary McClure: Babe Ruth was signed by Jack Dunn to the minor league Baltimore Orioles in February, 1914. Finances forced the sale of Ruth, along with several other players, to the Boston Red Sox in July of that year. Ruth played for the Red Sox until 1919 when he was traded to the Yankees.
Q: What was Ruth’s most notable accomplishment his first year with the Yankees?
Gary McClure: On May 1st, 1920, Ruth, who has been nursing an injured arm, hit a home run outside of Polo Grounds Baseball Park. The only other player in history to achieve this was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in 1914.
Q: What are some of Ruth’s career highlights?
Gary McClure: Babe Ruth had an amazing 714 home runs during his 21 year career. Ruth was a two time All Star (1933, 1934) and played on seven World Series Champion teams. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
Q: Why did Ruth reject a career as a professional cricket player?
Gary McClure: Ruth visited England in 1935 and was taught cricket by Alan Fairfax. He showed quite a bit of promise and was looking to get off the baseball field. However, when Ruth learned that the best players in the industry only cleared around $40 per week, he came back to the US.
Q: What caused Ruth’s death in 1948?
Gary McClure: In 1946, Ruth was diagnosed with lymphoepithelioma. Despite chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Ruth passed away on August 16th, 1948, at the age of 53.