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Babe Ruth made his major league debut 100 years ago today

Jul 11, 2014, 9:46 AM EST

Babe Ruth Red Sox

On July 11, 1914, the Boston Red Sox gave a 19 year-old pitcher the start. They had just purchased his contract from the minor league Baltimore Orioles a week before. The delay in getting to Boston was due to the Sox being on a road trip down to Washington. There was no rush to get him on a train, so he cooled his heels for a few days. No need to change plans for some kid named Babe Ruth.

Ruth would tell people later that, that very morning, he met his future wife, Helen Woodford, when she served him in a coffee shop. Others have cast doubt on this. Regardless of the truth, it was a big day for the guy, both in reality and in his memory years later.

That afternoon Ruth made his big league debut. He pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits and picked up the win. He only struck out one guy, though. Which was the same number of times he struck out while batting, as he posted an 0 for 2 day. He lost his next start and after that wasn’t used by the Sox all that much, pitching in only five games all year. The Red Sox weren’t really the big news in Boston that year anyway. The Braves won the World Series and became something of a sensation in doing so.

Ruth would have a handful of better days ahead. In the meantime, here’s the box score from the game which launched a legend.

 

  1. yankeesfanlen - Jul 11, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    And on this day in Beep Beep history…………….Oops, wrong post

  2. proudlycanadian - Jul 11, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Thanks for this piece of baseball history.

  3. scorpiox1960 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    John Lackey has nothing to say about him.

  4. stlouis1baseball - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Wow. Speaker, Ruth, Nap and Shoeless Joe. Look at those names! Outstanding Craig.

    • nbjays - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Plus the ill-fated Ray Chapman.

      • blacksables - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        Tris Speaker, one of the great center fielders in history, with 10 errors in July.

        My, how times have changed.

        Most center fielders today won’t make 10 errors in a career.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Yep. Forgot about Chapman. Good catch!

  5. gdobs227 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    On July 11? Super 2 cut off must have been later in the season back then.

  6. RoyHobbs39 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    This makes me feel old. I remember it like it was yesterday…

  7. yahmule - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    The greatest player ever and also the most socially influential until the emergence of Jackie Robinson.

    http://www.baberuthcentral.com/the-humanitarian/bill-jenkinson-speaks-to-babes-humanity/

  8. pete2112 - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    You call say what you want about Lebron, Tiger, Jordan, Jeter, Mantle, Dimaggio, Williams, etc., but Ruth is and always will be the benchmark for a sports legend. Nothing against any of these other guys as they’re all greats, but I think Ruth transcended sports in a way that no one else can with the exception being Jackie Robinson.

    Can you imagine what he would be today if played in the modern era? He was hitting HR’s during the dead ball era with much deeper fences and still putting up unimaginable numbers. It would’ve been fun to see.

    • clydeserra - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      I don’t know what feat a player would have to accomplish to be a similar phenomenon.

      A no hitter a month? Striking out 500? 190 HRs?

    • philliesblow - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      I know we are all baseball-centric geeks, but in their day, Jesse Owens and Joe Louis were pretty transcendent.

    • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 12, 2014 at 2:12 AM

      Gretzky

      Phil Esposito’s 152 point season was the record till Gretzky. Then Wayne destroyed it with his assists alone (163). Putting up seasons of 215 points, 212, 208, 205, 196, 183, 168, 164 and 163.

      • jimeejohnson - Jul 12, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        He earned the nickname “The Great One”. Gretsky is the Babe Ruth of hockey!

  9. zenblast - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Look at how long the game lasted: 1:33.

    That’s about half of the 3 hour slogs that MLB averages now.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Do people really want a 93-minute minute game? I mean, I’m trying to escape reality over here.

      I also see there were 5 errors; they must have led to some runs because each team scored an unearned run.

      • twinfan24 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:27 PM

        Two hour games would be nice, but it won’t happen in the TV era, regardless of any changes to the game. You need commercials to pay the bills.

  10. 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Ruth was a creation of expansion. If the American League had never been founded, and Ruth had to play real baseball in the National League of 1900, he wouldn’t be been so great.

    Expansion is always terrible. Baseball should contract back to eight teams, the way it used to be. And then Ruth would find himself in AAA.

    • pete2112 - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Please tell me this is sarcasm.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        It is.

    • pete2112 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Just checking. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

    • largebill - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      “If the American League had never been founded, and Ruth had to play real baseball in the National League of 1900, he wouldn’t be been so great.”

      Of course not, he would have been 5 years old in 1900.

      • yahmule - Jul 11, 2014 at 9:20 PM

        So, you’re only projecting about 20 homers then?

  11. baberuthslegs - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Old school. I love it.

  12. granadafan - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    This guy will never make it. He’s out of shape and smokes too much.

    • pete2112 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      And he eats too many hot dogs.

  13. twinfan24 - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Most interesting, in retrospect, is that they pinch hit for him. It isn’t that he was necessarily pulled for pitching reasons, but that they thought someone else would have a better chance of getting a hit. Kind of funny to think about now.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      His manager probably didn’t like his refusal to hustle on a lineout to the pitcher. Needed to show his who’s boss.

    • Glenn - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      You would expect a manager to think that an unknown 19 year-old pitcher would be a good hitter?

      • twinfan24 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:19 PM

        I didn’t mean to imply the manager should have known anything. That was why I said “in retrospect”, because of what kind of hitter he turned into.

  14. dubblelznhell - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    I thought the box score was gonna be an authentic screenshot of one…isn’t that impressive when it looks like every other modern day box score on the internet….boo

  15. yahmule - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    I’ll bet the two boys in this photograph never forgot this moment.

  16. girlsknowsportstoo - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Greatest hr hitter ever. No cushy plane rides, personal trainers, small ballparks, etc…Also, don’t forget he started out as hell of a pitcher. Like Chamberlain did for basketball, Ruth changed the rules of baseball.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      - No African-Americans.
      – No sliders.
      – Four or five at bats a game against the same starting pitcher.
      – No lefty specialists coming out of the bullpen.
      – Twenty-two games a year against the St. Louis Browns.

      And with only eight teams in the league, the road trips — half of which was train rides to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and also included train rides from Cleveland to Detroit or Detroit to Chicago — probably wasn’t as taxing as you might imagine. (Yes, train rides to St. Louis or Chicago from New York weren’t that pleasant.)

      If and you think that he didn’t play in small ballparks, then maybe you should check out what the right field porch looked like at the House That Ruth Built.

      No one — no one, no one, no one — is denying that Ruth was awesome. But the competition was a lot worse back then. He was the best of his era. Relative to the rest of his era, he was the best ever.

      But the greatest homerun hitter ever is Barry Bonds. You don’t have to LIKE this fact, but it’s true. You can look it up. Time marches on.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        Yankee Stadium dimensions: http://www.andrewclem.com/Baseball/YankeeStadium.html

      • pete2112 - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Oh boy… You weren’t being sacastic before. Two words… Dead ball. No one was hitting home runs like Ruth was back then and you’re crazy to think his numbers wouldn’t be even more if he played in the modern era. I’m sorry but Bonds wouldn’t have been the hitter he was back when Ruth played. No way.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 11, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        Here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/HR_top_ten.shtml

        Ruth played the vast majority of his hit hitting career in the live ball era.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 11, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        “But the greatest homerun hitter ever is Barry Bonds. You don’t have to LIKE this fact, but it’s true. You can look it up. Time marches on.”

        One Mark McGwire hit a home run every 10.61 at bats in his career.

        Babe Ruth hit a home run every 11.76 at bats in his career.

        Barry Bonds his a home run every 12.92 at bats in his career.

        Mark McGwire was the greatest home run hitter ever.

        Talking “at bats” here and not plate appearances.

        McGwire was the BEST at hitting home runs in the history of the game.

      • yahmule - Jul 11, 2014 at 9:25 PM

        Babe Ruth’s lifetime slugging percentage was .690. Higher than anything Bonds managed before he began drugging.

        There was basically no other way for a professional athlete to earn any money in Ruth’s era outside of MLB. THe NFL, NBA and NHL were in their infancy or didn’t exist. Then as now, only the top .01% of prize fighters made any money. Playing an extreme sport was to labeled a kook or crackpot.

        You have great difficulty contextualizing eras, so you parrot a lot of the other nonsense you’ve read. This is why your argument is so pathetic.

      • twinfan24 - Jul 11, 2014 at 10:26 PM

        You can argue that Bonds or McGwire were the most prolific HR hitters. That doesn’t make them the greatest. Ruth changed the game. The first season that he led the league in HRs, he had 11. Two years later, he hit 54 HRs, while second place was 19. He was ahead of his time. I’ll agree that segregation kept many good players out of the majors. But, with so few teams, you can argue that the talent they did have wasn’t watered down by being spread over 30 teams, like they were for Bonds, McGwire, etc. What you can’t argue is that Ruth lapped the field for a couple of years, hitting more than double the 2nd place HR hitter. Bonds and McGwire never did that.

  17. largebill - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    “That afternoon Ruth made his big league debut. He pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits and picked up the win. ”

    That does NOT match the box score. It shows he allowed 3 runs on 8 hits.

  18. nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 11, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Imagine Clayton Kershaw batting .300, racking up 26 doubles and 11 home runs. And being the life of the party. That’s Babe Ruth.

  19. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jul 11, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    “He spent all his time in the dugout alone staring at his locker looking at his phone.” -Red Sox anonymous quote.

  20. indaburg - Jul 11, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Ruth’s career numbers are just mind boggling. We all know about the 714 HRs and so on, but his career WAR of 168. Career OPS 1.164, wRC+ of 197. To compare, Trout is 167, Cabrera 152, Goldschmidt 144.

    I never realized that he only won the MVP once (the MVP did not exist as we know it–AL rules between 1922 and 1928 only allowed a player to win it once, and who the heck is Roger Peckinpaugh, AL MVP 1925?–his numbers are pedestrian) but he had MVP caliber years after 1928. Imagine the internet arguments over this snub. Second thing I learned is only 95.1% of the baseball writers voted for him into the HoF. I know there are no unanimous entrants, but I would have thought the number was closer to 100%. Ty Cobb was higher in the 1936 class with 98.2% of the vote. The third I learned is he was surprisingly speedy in his young days, before his excesses caught up with him I suppose. I always picture the “Ruthian” Ruth, not the rather svelte looking young man in the photo above.

    • yahmule - Jul 11, 2014 at 9:32 PM

      One of the big myths is that sportswriters protected players in the old days. In truth, they held bitter grudges and never had to account for them to anybody. Ruth and Ted Williams – who twice won Triple Crowns only to be snubbed in MVP voting – suffered from this as much as anybody.

  21. girlsknowsportstoo - Jul 11, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    Why don’t you look at the pics of Bonds throughout his career…watch how as a man in his late 20’s and 30’s grew like a teenager/young 20+? It is unnatural. Bonds could have been great on his own–he tainted his own stats.

    Give Ruth PED’s and no one in any era is touching the record. Hot dogs, women, and beer aren’t going to beef up your numbers .

  22. jerrahsucks - Jul 11, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    Another brilliant move by the Red Suckers………..

  23. racksie - Jul 12, 2014 at 3:18 AM

    Name the guy who has hit 500 homers and won 20 games?

    • jkcalhoun - Jul 12, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Name the guy who has won 511 games and hit 18 homers.

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