10 surprising facts about Babe Ruth’s baseball career

Babe Ruth steals a base for the Yankees in 1920s.

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Babe Ruth, one of baseball’s all-time greats, earned the nickname “Sultan of Swat” due to his penchant for smashing the ball. His legacy lives on in baseball’s lore and high demand for sports memorabilia with Babe Ruth autograph.

As a member of the New York Yankees, the Great Bambino spent the majority of his 22-year career, during which he set records for home runs multiple times for the American League. This catapulted him to among America’s most famous sports stars and this is reflected today when Babe Ruth baseball cards are sold for big money.

Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore remains a sacred place of pilgrimage for baseball fans, who relish urban legends associated with the greatest Yankee. But there are many facets of his baseball career that remain unknown yet amazing. Here are 10 surprising facts about Babe Ruth’s baseball career that most fans don’t know.

Red Sox sold Ruth to Yankees to fund a Broadway musical

Former Red Sox owner and theatrical producer Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees on December 26, 1919. He wanted to raise money to produce a Broadway musical.

Although it didn’t premiere until 1925, the musical No, No, Nanette became infamous among Red Sox fans after it was linked to the infamous “Curse of the Bambino,” the 108-year championship drought that Boston baseball fans endured from 1918 until 2004.

Babe Ruth’s rise to stardom began on the mound

The Sultan of Swat is most famous for setting major league records with 714 home runs, hitting 60 in a single season, and a slugging percentage of.690. However, Babe Ruth was originally a very talented pitcher. Only true baseball nerds will know that southpaw Ruth actually began his professional career on the mound.

One of MLB’s greatest hitters also had a stellar pitching career to begin with, despite being a dreaded hitter in his own right. The left-handed Babe Ruth was a major force in baseball during the era of the ten-and-two. In six seasons with the Boston Red Sox, he won 89 games and helped the team win three World Series championships, including 24 in 1917.  While playing for the Red Sox, Ruth accomplished many remarkable things on the mound, including going 92–46 with an ERA of 2.28 and winning 20 games twice in 1916 and 1917. In the World Series, Ruth went 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA, threw 13 scoreless innings in one game, a record that stands to this day, and finished with 29.2 scoreless innings overall, a record that Whitey Ford took over in 1961.

Another time that Ruth was involved in a combined no-hitter was in 1917, when he walked the game’s leadoff batter, yelled at the umpire, and was subsequently ejected. The Babe was replaced by Ernie Shore, and Shore did not allow a hit for the rest of the game. For the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth switched positions and only pitched in five games before moving to the outfield.

But he was originally a catcher

It sounds strange but true. Babe Ruth, as a young schoolboy on the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys varsity baseball team, began his career behind the plate, according to the National Sports Gallery.

“We had no catcher’s mitt built for left-handers, of course. We were lucky to have any kind of mitt. I’d used the regular catcher’s mitt on my left hand, received the throw from the pitcher, take off the glove and throw it back to him left handed,” Babe Ruth once told.

He threw a no-hitter without a single out

The Washington Senators were up first when Babe Ruth took the mound at Fenway Park on June 23, 1917. He promptly walked Ray Morgan. But Ruth was ejected from the game for having a heated discussion with home plate umpire Brick Owens about balls and strikes. He charged at Owens and punched the back of the umpire’s neck. Morgan was then caught attempting to steal second, and Babe Ruth’s replacement, Ernie Shore, retired the next 26 batters in order.

Babe Ruth played his career finale for Boston

Babe Ruth’s career in the major leagues began and ended in Boston. Instead of retiring at Yankee Stadium, he continued to play. After being released by the Yankees due to a decline in his performance, Ruth signed with the National League’s Boston Braves in 1935 with the intention of eventually taking over as the club’s manager. After only 28 games in a Braves uniform, Ruth called it quits on his 22-year career when it became apparent that his skills had declined and the promise would not be kept.

Babe Ruth had his last MLB appearance in a Dodgers shirt

Even after his playing career was over, Babe Ruth never gave up hope of making it as a manager in the major leagues. The Brooklyn Dodgers hired him in June of 1938 to be their first base coach. The struggling Dodgers used the “Sultan of Swat” primarily to sell tickets by having him take batting practice and appear in exhibition games. Because Ruth did not return for the 1939 season, the Dodgers hired captain Leo Durocher for the vacant manager position.

He pointed at and then hit “The Shot”

Babe Ruth actually pointed to the center field bleachers at Wrigley Field before hitting a home run against the Cubs in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.

The Cubs’ bench players mercilessly trolled “The Sultan of Swat” while he was at bat, prompting Ruth to mock back at the Chicago bench. He turned toward the Cubs’ dugout, raised his right hand, and stuck out a finger. When the Cubs’ dugout returned the gesture, Babe Ruth held up two fingers and waved again. Next, he pointed at the center field bleachers and hit Charlie Root’s curveball to that area about 440 feet away.

His Baseball Hall of Fame bid didn’t get 100% support

Babe Ruth was one of the first five players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, a year after he retired from the game. His plaque in Cooperstown calls him baseball’s “greatest drawing card” in a testament to the legend’s allure.

While Ruth had an incredible career, he finished second to Ty Cobb in the voting with only 226 ballots cast. Today, a bat with Babe Ruth autograph draws more than anything associated with Cobb, who got higher votes than the Sultan of Swat.

What did baseball legend Babe Ruth keep on his head, under his baseball cap?

To stay cool, the 6’2 “Ruth was known to place a cabbage leaf under his cap on the field to keep his head cool. However, many claim that he had it as he was superstitious and thought it was a symbol of good luck.

Ruth hit 136 triples during his career

Old footage of Babe Ruth rounding the bases makes him look like a penguin waddling across the diamond. One can at best guess that he could hit more than 20 triples in his career. But it is almost seven times more and 136 triples.

Babe Ruth’s powerful swings often sent the ball so far inside the park that he ended up on third base.

Don’t you believe it? Babe Ruth’s life is full of many such tales and legends. To know more about Babe Ruth’s life and career, you can now talk to the real-life baseball legend. Ask him questions and get answers through Babe AI.

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