Babe Ruth

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Babe Ruth : biography

6 February 1895 – 16 August 1948

Ruth’s name quickly became synonymous with the home run, as he led the transformation of baseball strategy from the "inside game" to the "power game", and because of the style and manner in which he hit them. His ability to drive many of his home runs in the 450–500 foot range and beyond resulted in the lasting adjective "Ruthian", to describe any long home run hit by any player. Probably his deepest hit in official game play (and perhaps the longest home run by any player), occurred on July 18, at Detroit’s Navin Field, in which he hit one to straightaway center, over the wall of the then-single-deck bleachers, and to the intersection, some from home plate.

The Yankees had high expectations when they met the New York Giants in the 1921 World Series, and the Yankees won the first two games with Ruth in the lineup. However, Ruth badly scraped his elbow during Game 2, sliding into third base (he had walked and stolen both second and third). After the game, he was told by the team physician not to play the rest of the series. Although he did play in Games 3, 4 and 5, and pinch-hit in Game 8 of the best-of-9 Series, his productivity was diminished, and the Yankees lost the series. Ruth hit .316, drove in five runs and hit his first World Series home run. (Although the Yankees won the fifth game, Ruth wrenched his knee and did not return to the Series until the eighth [last] game.)

Ruth’s appearance in the 1921 World Series also led to a problem and triggered another disciplinary action. After the series, Ruth and teammates Bob Meusel and Bill Piercy participated in a barnstorming tour throughout the Northeast.Montville, pp. 142-144. A rule then in force prohibited World Series participants from playing in exhibition games during the off-season, the purpose being to prevent Series participants from "restaging" the Series and undermining its value. Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspended the trio for the first seven weeks of the 1922 season.Montville, p. 145. Landis had made his point about adhering to the letter of the rules, but he also recognized that the rule was no longer needed, and rescinded it.

Despite his suspension, Ruth was named the Yankees’ new on-field captain prior to the 1922 season. However, five days after he returned from his suspension, he was ejected from a game for throwing dirt on an umpire, and climbing into the stands to confront a heckler; Ruth was subsequently fined and stripped of the captaincy. In his shortened season, Ruth appeared in 110 games, batted .315, with 35 home runs and drove in 99 runs, but compared to his previous two dominating seasons, the 1922 season was a disappointment for Ruth. Despite Ruth’s off-year, Yankees managed to win the pennant to face the New York Giants for the second straight year in the World Series. In the series, Giants manager John McGraw instructed his pitchers to throw Ruth nothing but curveballs, and Ruth never adjusted. Ruth had just two hits in seventeen at-bats, and the Yankees lost to the Giants for the second straight year by 4–0 (with one tie game).

In 1923, the Yankees moved from the Polo Grounds, where they had sublet from the Giants, to their new Yankee Stadium, which was quickly dubbed "The House That Ruth Built". Ruth hit the stadium’s first home run on the way to a Yankees victory over the Red Sox. Ruth finished the 1923 season with a career-high .393 batting average and major-league leading 41 home runs. For the third straight year, the Yankees faced the Giants in the World Series. Rebounding from his struggles in the previous two World Series, Ruth dominated the 1923 World Series. He batted .368, walked eight times, scored eight runs, hit three home runs and slugged 1.000 during the series, as the Yankees won their first World Series title, four games to two., The New York Times, July 6, 1924. Retrieved April 3, 2011.

Ruth narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown in 1924. He hit .378 for his only American League batting title, led the major leagues with 46 home runs, and batted in 121 runs to finish second to Goose Goslin’s 129. Ruth’s on-base percentage was .513, the fourth of five years in which his OBP exceeded .500. However, the Yankees finished second, two games behind the Washington Senators, who went on to win their only World Series while based in D.C. During that same year, Ruth served in the New York National Guard 104th Field Artillery.