It is hard to find a figure that would mean more for American sport than that of George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr., also known under the impressive nicknames like “Bambino” and “Sultan of Swat”. His larger than life personality, his brilliant sports career, set of records, some of which are still not beaten even now, more than sixty years after his death, – he seems to have been destined to become a great person, and he is rightfully considered to be one of the best, if not the best, baseball players of all time. In fact, many think that it was his popularity that made baseball as popular in the United States as it is today.
The Makings of a Champion
The life of Babe Ruth makes for a great illustration of what one person can achieve if he devotes his entire life to one passion and never steers away from it. He started his career at the age of nineteen and in this or that way has been connected with baseball until the day of his death, be it as a player, a coach or a public figure. His records included:
- The most career home runs (714).
- On-base plus slugging (1.164).
- Slugging percentage (.690).
- Bases on balls (2,062).
- Runs batted-in (2,213).
Babe Ruth started his baseball career in the Baltimore Orioles, but it was his time with the Boston Red Sox that made him truly well-known, quickly building the reputation of an excellent pitcher and, later, an outfielder. Despite this, in 1918 he was sold to the New York Yankees, which, as many believe, had rather dramatic consequences for both teams. After the sale the Red Sox, which previously had been one of the most successful and celebrated baseball teams in the country, entered a losing streak so long it is hard to call merely a streak – in fact, they failed to win the World Series for 86 years straight, until 2004, long after Babe Ruth and all people who had something to do with the deal were dead.
The Yankees, on the contrary, were a pretty lackluster team before, not having won a single pennant. After the acquisition of Babe Ruth they managed to win seven pennants and four World Series while Ruth was with them, thus effectively turning the Yankees into one of the most successful sports team in the North America. This turn of events, quite naturally, led to the ongoing rivalry between the two teams which remains quite strong even to this day.
Babe Ruth’s Legacy
Babe Ruth wasn’t just a baseball player; he was a public figure, probably the first baseball star to ever achieve this status. That is why his personality acquired some legendary traits in the course of time. His name entered the folklore (some people quite serious believe in the aforementioned Bambino’s curse), language (“Ruthian” means “colossal, magnificent”) and history of baseball and sports in general. Even now, more than half a century after his death, he remains one of the most celebrated sportsmen of America.
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