Happy birthday, Babe
One day after wishing Hank Aaron a happy 79th, we celebrate the birthday of the man whose home run record the Hammer broke in 1974.
George Herman Ruth was born in Baltimore on February 6, 1895 and reached the Majors with the Red Sox in 1914. The Babe was one of the league's top pitchers early in his career, posting an 89-46 record and a 2.19 ERA in his first six seasons. He also emerged as one of the game's best hitters while in Boston, leading the league with 11 homers in 1918 and again with a record-breaking 29 the following season.
It's not entirely clear why Red Sox owner Harry Frazee opted to sell Ruth to Yankees before the 1920 campaign, but the transaction -- for $425,000 in cash and loans -- was almost certainly a financial decision rather than a baseball one.
"No other club could afford to give the amount the Yankees have paid for him," said Frazee at a press conference announcing the deal. "And I do not mind saying I think they are taking a gamble. I do not wish to detract one iota from Ruth's ability as a ballplayer nor from his value as an attraction, but there is no getting away from the fact that despite his 29 home runs, the Red Sox finished sixth in the race last year. What the Boston fans want, I take it, and what I want because they want it, is a winning team, rather than a one-man team that finishes in sixth place."
Of course, Jacob Rupert's gamble paid off. In 15 seasons with the Yankees, Ruth solidified his claim as one of the all-time greats by leading the league in home runs 10 times, RBIs six times and runs scored eight times. The Great Bambino also added four more World Series rings to his collection (he'd won three with the Red Sox) and became a fan favorite as much for his cigar-chomping and legendary hot dog consumption as his on-field exploits.
The Babe, whose career .690 slugging percentage still stands as a Major League record, played his final game with the Boston Braves in 1935 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame's inaugural class the following season.