Even though he died more than 70 years ago, George Herman “Babe” Ruth is still considered one of the greatest players in Major League Baseball history. Baseball fans know a lot about his baseball career. They know about him holding the career home run record for decades, and they know about him being a two-way player who also pitched, and they know about the multiple World Series titles he won with the Yankees. But there are some interesting facts about Ruth that most people don’t know, and that includes one that may be particularly surprising to learn.
Babe Ruth’s playing career
Ruth famously played for both the Red Sox and Yankees, but he ended his 22-year career with the Boston Braves in 1935. He finished his career with an impressive .342 average to go along with his 714 home runs — which was the most of all-time until Hank Aaron broke Ruth’s mark in 1974 — and 2,214 RBI. He only pitched for 10 of his 22 seasons. He compiled a 94-46 record in 163 games, including 147 starts. He threw 1,221.1 innings with a 2.28 ERA and 488 strikeouts. Ruth threw 107 complete games with 17 shutouts — which are both unheard of now. Ruth was part of the first class ever inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
Ruth didn’t know his birthday
Ruth was born in the late 19th century, when recordkeeping wasn’t as advanced or reliable as it is in modern times. So birthdates for people who were born then aren’t always known or accurate. Ruth’s birthdate is now widely accepted as being Feb. 6, 1895. But Ruth didn’t know that. He lived his entire life thinking that his birthday was Feb. 7, 1894. How did that confusion come about? The birth certificate listing that date was meant for an unnamed male child in Ruth’s family — and, as it turns out, George wasn’t that child. Ruth’s parents had many children, but only two survived past infancy. His parents lost six children in their infancy, including two sets of twins, with only George and his sister Mary Margaret surviving.
Other facts about Ruth that you didn’t know
That may be the most surprising fact about Ruth, but there are many other little-known facts about the Hall of Famer. For instance, Ruth was born in Baltimore, which is a pretty well-known fact. What isn’t as common knowledge is where in the city he lived as a child.
He lived above one of his father’s saloons at the site of what is now Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He was sent to Catholic reform school at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys because he already had experience chewing tobacco and drinking whiskey before he turned 8 years old. Each boy at St. Mary’s had to learn a trade for a potential career. Ruth learned how to be a shirtmaker.
He was still living at St. Mary’s in February 1914 when he signed with the International League’s Baltimore Orioles. He made it to the majors less than five months after that. He hit his first professional home run on March 7, 1914 in Fayetteville, N.C. The Orioles sold Ruth and two other players to the Red Sox on July 9, 1914 as part of a fire sale, and he made his major league debut two days later as a starting pitcher. He earned the win after pitching seven innings, but he went 0-2 as a hitter, including a strikeout in his first career at-bat. His first major league hit came at Fenway Park on Oct. 2, 1914 against the Yankees. He started the game as a pitcher, picking up the win.