BABE RUTH BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
“Babe” Ruth is often regarded as the best baseball player that ever lived, with a whopping 714 home runs in 22 seasons. While he no longer holds records for these accomplishments, it took baseball players nearly fifty years to catch up with “the Bambino”. Nevertheless, he became a classic American sports hero during his career and has forever been integrated into the country’s culture.
The baseball icon was born George Herman Ruth, Jr. on February 8, 1895 in a poor Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood. He and his sister, Mamie, were the only children of their parent’s eight to survive childhood. The Ruths were hardworking, and both toiled at a tavern for long hours, leaving their kids to mostly take care of themselves. At age seven, after his family found they could not control his extensive troublemaking and offer him the discipline he needed, they sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. It was a Catholic orphanage run by missionaries, and it was there that Ruth resided for his next twelve years of life. Life at the school was hard for him, as his parents rarely made visits and he was often reprimanded for disruptive behavior.
However, one of the missionaries took a liking to the young boy, Brother Matthias, and he instantly became a father-figure and positive role model for Ruth. Matthias, as well as some other monks employed there, introduced him to the game of baseball. On top of other skills like reading, writing, and tailoring, he was taught how to hit, pitch, and field. Brother Matthias especially worked on the child with his baseball skills, and coached him to use the sport as an outlet for his aggression. Quickly Ruth showed exceptional ability, and he soon joined St. Mary’s team where he showcased this amazing talent.
At nineteen some of the Brothers contacted Jack Dunn, owner of the Orioles, to watch the young man play. Dunn was so impressed that less than an hour after observing him, Ruth was offered a spot on the team. Since the law stated him as still a minor, Dunn became the player’s legal guardian so that he could play professionally. For this reason, teammates jokingly called Ruth “Jack’s newest babe”. From this, he developed the nickname that stuck, “Babe” Ruth.
The young baseball player was only on the team a short while before he was called to play in the majors. From 1914 until 1919 he played for the Boston Red Sox, during which time he broke batting and pitching records, as well as visited the World Series. Also during his stay in Boston, Ruth met and fell in love with a young waitress named Helen Woodford. They lived happily together for a few years in a farm house in Sudbury, MA, but it would soon become apparent that Ruth was not ready to settle down and wanted to live a life of excitement, soaking in all that came with his new career.
In 1920 he was traded to the New York Yankees, so he and his wife relocated to New York. The baseball player flourished in the spotlight, absorbing all of the energy around him. Unfortunately, Helen was on edge about his fame, and was never truly comfortable with all of the attention. He garnered even more notice with a film all about himself, titled “Headin' Home” (1920). It was considered the “true story” of the baseball great, and featured the “Babe” playing his own character.
Over the next fifteen seasons with the Yankees, Ruth helped win four World Series titles, as well as break numerous more records (some of which he had set already). He was an American superstar – he frequently stayed out late, used profanities, and drove fast cars– facts that drove him and his wife apart even more. In 1921 they adopted a girl, Dorothy, but even she failed to secure their marriage. For most of the twenties they remained separated, until in 1929 she tragically died in a house fire.
However, Ruth had met another woman previously in 1922, Claire Hodgson. She was an actress and the daughter of a lawyer who regularly did legal work for Ty Cobb, another major league baseball player. She had found success in New York as a model and showgirl, and had made friends with actor Jim Barton, who in 1922 took her to a Yankee game. Here she was introduced to Ruth, and in only a short time, he had become infatuated with her. Through the rest of the decade they grew closer and closer, and after his wife passed away, they elevated their relationship and got married a few months later. Ruth was quickly forced to turn into a family man, for he acquired his daughter Dorothy from a previous marriage, and became a new father to Claire’s daughter Julia. He just loved his big family. His new wife also turned his habits around, becoming his manager and taking care of everything from his spending habits to his eating regime.
During the marriage he also tried out another vocation – acting – something Claire must have encouraged as she was a performer herself. In 1927 he starred in a sports comedy called “Babe Comes Home”, followed by an action filled family comedy, “Speedy”, in 1928. He now had everything a man could ask for – a big loving family, a great baseball career, and a place in the movies.
In 1932 he starred in five baseball shorts, “Slide, Babe, Slide”, “Perfect Control”, “Over the Fence”, “Just Pals”, and “Fancy Curves”. Three years later, in 1935, Ruth announced he was retiring, in hopes of becoming a team manager. He was never offered a major league managing position and turned down the opportunity to run a minor league farm team, and consequently signed on as an assistant manager and player for the Boston Braves. He eventually did retire that same year. In 1936 Ruth became one of the first players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. For the rest of his years he continued his reputation of being a generous man (as team members and friends would quite agree on), and often gave much of his time to helping out with charities.
In 1942 he got a chance to revisit the screen with a movie about the life and career of famed baseball player Lou Gehrig in “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942). The Gary Cooper biographical drama about Ruth’s ill-fated teammate featured him in three scenes, one of them being the dramatic moment where Gehrig is giving his famous speech at Yankee Stadium that ends with “I consider myself the luckiest man…”
In the fall of 1946 Ruth discovered that he had a malignant tumor on his neck, and he spent three months in the hospital. The legendary player’s voice was impaired and his health quickly deteriorated. On June 13, 1948, his jersey number “3” was retired. Only two months later, on August 16, 1948, he lost his battle with the throat cancer. At his funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, over 100,000 people showed up to demonstrate their support and respect for the “greatest player that ever lived”. When he died, he left most of his estate to Babe Ruth Foundation for underprivileged children.
He leaves us with these words that anyone, not just baseball players, can take to heart: “It’s hard to beat someone that never gives up. Never let the feat of striking out get in your way.”
1942 The Pride of the Yankees
1932 Fancy Curves
1932 Just Pals
1932 Over the Fence
1932 Perfect Control
1932 Slide, Babe, Slide
1927 Babe Comes Home
1920 Headin' Home
1920 Play Ball With Babe Ruth
1934 The Adventures of Babe Ruth Radio Show