Babe Ruth

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Babe Ruth : biography

6 February 1895 – 16 August 1948

Ruth and Claire regularly wintered in Florida, frequently playing golf during the off-season and while the Yankees were spring training in Tampa, Florida. After retirement, he had a winter beachfront home in Treasure Island, Florida, near St. Petersburg.

Major League career

Boston Red Sox (1914–1919)

Ruth appeared in five games for the Red Sox in 1914, pitching in four of them. He picked up the victory in his major league debut on July 11. The Red Sox had many star players in 1914, so Ruth was soon optioned to the minor league Providence Grays of Providence, Rhode Island for most of the remaining season. Behind Ruth and Carl Mays, the Grays won the International League pennant.

During spring training in 1915, Ruth secured a spot in the Red Sox’ starting rotation. He joined a pitching staff that included Rube Foster, Dutch Leonard, and Smokey Joe Wood. Ruth won 18 games, lost eight, and helped himself by hitting .315. He also hit his first four home runs. The Red Sox won 101 games that year on their way to a victory in the World Series. Ruth did not pitch in the series, and grounded out in his only at-bat.

In 1916, after a slightly shaky spring, he went 23–12, with a 1.75 ERA and nine shutouts, both of which led the league. On June 27, he struck out ten Philadelphia A’s, a career high. On July 11, he started both games of a doubleheader, but the feat was not what it seemed; he pitched only one third of an inning in the opener because the scheduled starter, Foster, had trouble getting loose. Ruth then pitched a complete-game victory in the nightcap. Ruth had unusual success against Washington Senators star pitcher Walter Johnson, beating him four times in 1916 alone, by scores of 5–1, 1–0, 1–0 in 13 innings, and 2–1. Johnson finally outlasted Ruth for an extra-inning 4–3 victory on September 12; in the years to come, Ruth would hit ten home runs off Johnson, including the only two Johnson would allow in 1918–1919. Ruth’s nine shutouts in 1916 set an AL record for left-handers which would remain unmatched until Ron Guidry tied it in 1978.

Despite a weak offense, hurt by the sale of Tris Speaker to the Indians, the Red Sox made it to the World Series. They defeated the Brooklyn Robins four games to one. This time Ruth made a major contribution, pitching a 14-inning complete-game victory in Game Two.

Ruth went 24–13 with a 2.01 ERA and six shutouts in 1917, and hit .325. But the Sox finished second in the league, nine games behind the Chicago White Sox. Ruth was involved in a combined no-hitter that year. On June 23 against the Washington Senators, after walking the leadoff hitter, Ruth erupted in anger, was ejected, and threw a punch at the umpire, which would result in a ten-game suspension. Ernie Shore came in to replace Ruth and retired all twenty-six batters he faced, for which he was credited with a perfect game until the 1990s. Ruth’s outburst was an example of self-discipline problems that plagued Ruth throughout his career, and is regarded as the primary reason (other than financial) that then-owner Harry Frazee was willing to sell him to the Yankees two years later.

The left-hander was pitching a no-hitter in a 0–0 game against the Detroit Tigers on July 11, before a single deflected off his glove in the eighth inning. Boston finally pushed across a run in the ninth, and Ruth held onto his 1–0 victory by striking out Ty Cobb. In 1942, Ruth called this game his greatest thrill on the field.

In 1918, Ruth pitched in 20 games, posting a 13–7 record with a 2.22 ERA. He was mostly used as an outfielder, and hit a league-leading eleven home runs. His statistics were curtailed slightly when he walked off the team in July following an argument with Boston’s manager.

Ruth threw a 1–0 shutout in the opener of the 1918 World Series, then won Game Four in what would be his final World Series appearance as a pitcher. Ruth won both his starts, allowing two runs (both earned) in seventeen innings for an ERA of 1.06. Ruth extended his World Series consecutive scoreless inning streak to 29⅔ innings, a record that would last until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.