I was watching “The Pride of the Yankees” the other day, and the movie came to one of my favorite scenes. The Yankees were travelling by train, and the guys were relaxing in the club car playing cards.
Suddenly, Babe Ruth (played by himself) bolted in. The Babe had a big grin on his face and a brand new straw hat in his hands. He sat down and demanded that they deal him in. As Ruth put his hat on a hook, he glared suspiciously at his teammates, and ordered the guys to keep their hands off of his hat.
As he turned his attention to the game, the hat was snatched from the hook and passed around. Each player took a bite of straw and passed it to the next. When the hat reached the rookie, Lou Gehrig, he was told that if he was one of them, he would take a bite.
Of course, Ruth heard Gehrig taking his bite. The Bambino was so furious, that he was ready to put Gehrig on the disabled list…permanently.
Sometimes, it’s hard to separate the fact from the fiction with Ruth. There are so many stories about his shenanigans and nightlife activities. And did he really call that home run shot to center field, or did that come from the imagination of a sportswriter who wanted a good story?
But there are some things that are indisputable. There is no player in the history of baseball that dominated an era more than Ruth dominated his. He won the American League home run championship 12 times. He won the RBI crown 6 times. In 1921, Ruth had 119 extra base hits, scored 177 runs and had 457 total bases. All of those remain MLB records. He also holds the MLB career slugging percentage record at .690.
On the mound, he recorded the lowest ERA in the American League in 1916. That same year, he hurled 9 shutouts, a record that he held exclusively until Ron Guidry tied it in 1978.
We could go on forever with the numbers, but they only begin to tell the story of his greatness. Ruth was born February 6, 1895. So Yanks Go Yard would like to wish him a very Happy Birthday. Certainly, he has plans to celebrate it in style. But wherever that is, one of his Yankees teammates is surely taking a bite out of his hat.