There is one name that anyone who has even the most passing knowledge of baseball know. It is a name that many who love the game whisper in hushed tones and those who like to argue over stats debate hotly in alcohol-soaked barroom arguments.
When he was born, his parents gave him the name George Herman Ruth. That was the name that he held for most of his life, especially as a child, and throughout his formative years. Exactly how he got the name that so many know him as has now been lost in the haze of urban legend, but he has always been known, throughout history as The Babe.
Very rarely is there a man who comes along in any particular sport that dominates the way the Babe did. There have seldom been sports icons who have lasted and endured so stupendously as Babe Ruth. Even as authors and writers have written about him, pointing out the very human side of the man, including the flaws, he has always risen above the accusations, the rumors and the stories.
What it is about George Herman Ruth that makes him such an icon? Well there’s the fact that his very story seems to sum up the American Dream. The man who would become the Babe was born to working class parents in a very rough part of the city of Baltimore in 1895. Seven of his brothers and sisters died in infancy. Despite this, he overcame and when he got into high school, he began to show where his talent lay, it was noticed, and success followed.
During his professional career Babe Ruth was a two-time All Star and earned the 1923 baseball MVP award. He had a career slugging percentage of.690 and a career on-base percentage of 1.164. His career batting average was an outstanding .342. Babe Ruth led Major League Baseball with the largest number of home runs hit during a single season with 60 in 1927 and had a career 714 home runs total. At the same time, he proved he was not just a home run hitter and racked up up 2,873 runs and 2,217 RBI. He was also a routine champion including 1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1927, 1928 and 1932.
Despite his achievements on the field, his life off the field was often a mess. He was notorious for his heavy drinking, heavy eating and his tendencies to struggle when it came to relationships with women - he was married several times. However, he managed to project a wholesome image and the press, at the time, chose to go with that instead of publishing the news about what he was struggling with off the field. In today’s 24-hour-news world, such a thing would just never be possible.
In fact, given the way the game is played today, and the technology of today, another player and man like Babe Ruth seems impossible. Although some of his records have been broken, there still has never been a man like him again in the sport, and it seems unlikely that there ever will be.