Babe Ruth

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Babe Ruth : biography

6 February 1895 – 16 August 1948

In 1934, Ruth had his last complete season. By this time, years of high living were starting to catch up with him. His conditioning had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer field or run. Nonetheless, he could still handle a bat, recording a .288 batting average with 22 home runs, statistics that were stated as "merely mortal".Reisler, p. 256. He was selected to the American League All-Star team for the second consecutive year. During the game, New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell struck out Ruth and, four other victims in consecutive fashion, each of whom were later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. On September 30, 1934, in what turned out to be his last game at Yankee Stadium, Ruth went 0 for 3 in front of only about 2,500 fans. By this time, he had reached a personal milestone of 708 home runs and was ready to retire.

After the 1934 season, Ruth went on a baseball barnstorming tour in the Far East. Players such as Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Gomez, Earl Averill, Charlie Gehringer, and Lou Gehrig were among fourteen players who played a series of 22 games, with many of the games played in Japan. Ruth was popular in Japan, as baseball had been popular in Japan for decades. Riding in a motorcade, Ruth was greeted by thousands of cheering Japanese. The tour was considered a great success for further increasing the popularity of baseball in Japan, and in 1936 Japan organized its first professional baseball league.

Boston Braves (1935)

Although Ruth knew he was nearly finished as a player, he desired to remain in baseball as a manager. He was often spoken of as a possible candidate as managerial jobs opened up, but in 1932, when he was mentioned as a contender for the Red Sox position, stated that he was not yet ready to leave the field. Ruth was spoken of as likely to be hired each time when the Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit positions became available. He received none of them.Montville, pp. 322–323.

Just before the 1934 season, Ruppert offered to make Ruth manager of the Yankees’ top minor-league team, the Newark Bears, but he was talked out of it by his wife, Claire, and his business manager. Early in the 1934 season, Ruth began openly campaigning to become manager of the Yankees. However, the Yankee job was never a serious possibility. Ruppert always supported McCarthy, who would remain as Yankees manager for another 12 seasons. Ruth and McCarthy gad never gotten along, and Ruth’s managerial ambitions further chilled their relations. By the end of the season, Ruth hinted that he would retire unless Ruppert named him manager of the Yankees. For his part, McCarthy wanted his slugger to leave the team without drama and hard feelings when the time came.

During the 1934–1935 offseason, Ruth circled the world with his wife, including a barnstorming tour of the Far East. At his final stop before returning home, in the United Kingdom, Ruth was introduced to cricket by Australian player Alan Fairfax, and after having little luck in a cricketer’s stance, stood as a baseball batter and launched some massive shots around the field, destroying the bat in the process. Although Fairfax regretted that he could not have the time to make Ruth a cricket player, Ruth had lost any interest in such a career upon learning that the best batsmen made only about $40 per week.Montville, p. 336.

Also during the offseason, Ruppert had been sounding out the other clubs in hopes of finding one that would be willing to take Ruth as a manager and/or a player. However, the only teams that seriously considered hiring Ruth were the Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers. A’s owner/manager Connie Mack gave some thought to stepping down as manager in favor of Ruth, but later dropped the idea, saying that Ruth’s wife would be running the team in a month if Ruth ever took over.

While the barnstorming tour was underway, Ruppert began negotiating with Boston Braves owner Judge Emil Fuchs, who wanted Ruth as a gate attraction. Although the Braves had enjoyed modest recent success, finishing fourth in the National League in both 1933 and 1934, the team performed poorly at the box office. Unable to afford the rent at Braves Field, Fuchs had considered installing a dog track at Braves Field to attract fans when the Braves were not at home, only to be turned down by Landis. After a series of phone calls, letters, and meetings, the Yankees traded Ruth to the Braves on February 26, 1935. Ruppert stated that he would not release Ruth to go to another team as a player. For this reason, It was announced that in addition to playing, Ruth would become team vice president and would be consulted on all club transactions. He was also made assistant manager to Braves skipper Bill McKechnie. In a long letter to Ruth a few days before the press conference, Fuchs promised Ruth a share in the Braves’ profits, with the possibility of becoming co-owner of the team. Fuchs also raised the possibility of Ruth succeeding McKechnie as manager, perhaps as early as 1936. Ruppert called the deal "the greatest opportunity Ruth ever had".Montville, pp. 337–339.