How Chris Woodward would manage the 'Babe'

September 7th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Babe Ruth may be the most famous and celebrated player in baseball history, a larger than life character who truly changed the course of the game with his mammoth home runs and outrageous personality.

Ruth was a pitcher for the Red Sox from 1915-19 and then sold to the Yankees. Once he donned the pinstripes, Ruth became a prodigious home run slugger that turned the Yankees into the most famous franchise and dominant dynasty in the game. He also led baseball out of the Dead Ball Era and the Black Sox scandal and sent the sport soaring to new heights of popularity across America.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward had the opportunity to immerse himself in the legend on Saturday morning when he was given a tour of the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, located just a few blocks away from Camden Yards and downtown Baltimore. The historic house is where Ruth grew up as the son of a German immigrant saloonkeeper.

Woodward also spent 30 minutes answering questions from fans and there was one obvious query that needed to be addressed: How would Woodward handle managing such an out-sized personality like Ruth?

“I would love the opportunity,” Woodward said. “I’ll take the best player on the planet.”

Of course it would depend on if Woodward was managing back in the Roaring ‘20s or if Ruth was playing today.

“If I went to his time period, I would probably ... smoke a cigar and have a beer with him,” Woodward said.

Ruth didn’t drink many beers with Hall of Fame manager Miller Huggins back in the day and it had little to do with Prohibition being the law of the land at the time. Ruth was more than a handful.

The most notable incident came in 1925 on a hot Saturday afternoon in St. Louis when Ruth, after a night of carousing and debauchery, sauntered into the clubhouse while his teammates were already taking batting practice. Huggins fined Ruth $5,000 and suspended him on the spot.

Ruth left the team in a furious huff and told the world he was through forever with Huggins and the Yankees. The standoff lasted several days but Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert backed his manager. Ruth ultimately backed down and apologized.

So be careful what you wish for as manager. There has never been anyone like Ruth.

“His personality is bigger than the game, right?” Woodward said. “We’ve all seen it. He was the first one who was bigger than the game. I would love the honor to do it, to try it. Try to make him greater. Have a great player and make a great team out of it.”

It might be different for Ruth though if he stepped into a Major League clubhouse 100 years later.

“Nowadays, I would probably really challenge him,” Woodward said. “OK, you can do those things but also I guarantee you he would be open to a lot of things. Most great players are open to being greater. So if he understood there were some things about swing mechanics or taking his belly away from him, that would make him a better player or a more physical athlete, he might be a different version of Babe Ruth than he was back in the day.

“He has a quote right in the front [of the museum] that I saw, I loved that quote. He basically said, ‘You can have a bunch of great individual players but if they don’t play as a team, they are not worth a dime.' That’s his quote and that’s something that I believe in. That’s the core of who I am so if he believes that, we’re in great shape.”

The Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum is open year-round except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Times vary by the season. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors/military and $5 for children 5-16 years old.