Outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards stands a statue of Babe Ruth. Like myself, you might wonder why that statue would exist in Baltimore rather than in New York or Boston. Well as it turns out George Herman Ruth Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His career actually started with the Baltimore Orioles in 1914, who at that time were a minor league team. He was sold to the Red Sox later that same year, and made his major league debut on July 11, 1914, though it wasn’t until 1915 that he became a permanent fixture on the roster.
Beginning his career as a pitcher, Ruth went 18-8 with an ERA of 2.44 in his first season. In 1916, he threw for 23-12 and led the league with a 1.75 ERA. But it wasn’t long before the Red Sox figured out that his at-bat appearances were where he really shone. He hit 11 home runs in 1918, and set a new league record of 29 home runs in 1919. A legend was in the making.
In 1919, the Red Sox sold Ruth to the New York Yankees. Having transitioned from a pitcher to a hard-hitting outfielder, he changed baseball forever. In 1920, he overtook his own home run record, knocking 54 out of the park. That year no other player hit more than 19 home runs, and only one team hit more than “The Bambino” hit himself. But he wasn’t done yet. In 1921–the season most regard as his best–not only did he hit 59 home runs, but he also batted .376, drove in 171 RBI’s, scored 177 runs, and had a slugging average of .846. A member of the 1927 “Murderers’ Row,” he helped the Yankees go 110-44 during the regular season–a record number of wins that only four other teams in history have beaten–and sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.
During his 14 years with the Yankees, the team won 7 pennants and 4 World Series Titles. After his performance began to decline, he was signed to the Boston Braves in 1934, and in 1935 he retired. Throughout his impressive career he had 2,873 hits, 714 home runs, 2,213 RBI’s, a batting average of .342 and an ERA of 2.28. His legend is one that will forever remain etched in baseball history.
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