MLB

Why Didn’t Babe Ruth Retire With the New York Yankees?

Babe Ruth is considered to be one of the best players in Major League Baseball history to ever put on the pinstripes and play for the Yankees. Many baseball fans know he didn’t play for the Yankees his entire career, as they famously bought his contract from the Red Sox, leading to the infamous “Curse of the Bambino.”

What isn’t as well-known among baseball fans, though, is that Ruth didn’t end his career in the Bronx either. In fact, he started and ended his career on teams who played in Boston — but he didn’t go back to the Red Sox after his time to the Yankees. What team did Ruth end up with, and why did he leave the Yankees?

Babe Ruth’s pre-Yankees career

Ruth made his debut with the Red Sox as a 19-year-old on July 11, 1914. He started that game, going seven innings and giving up two runs on eight hits in a winning effort. He would play for the Red Sox through 1919, spending all of that time as a two-way player.

In his first six pre-Yankee seasons, Ruth hit .308 with 49 home runs and 224 RBI at the plate. On the mound, he went 89-46 in 158 games — 143 starts — with a 2.19 ERA and 483 strikeouts in nearly 1,200 innings.

Babe Ruth with the Yankees

The Red Sox sold Ruth to the Yankees for $120,000 — a record amount at the time — with the transaction being announced on Jan. 6, 1920, after Ruth signed a new contract with the Yankees.

He would wind up spending 15 seasons with the Yankees, though he was essentially exclusively a hitter with them, pitching in only five games after joining the team. It was when Ruth was in a Yankee uniform that he put up the numbers that helped grow his legend and ultimately earn him the distinction of being one of the best players in the history of the sport.

Ruth hit an impressive .349 with the Yankees, hitting 659 home runs and driving in 1,978 RBI. While WAR obviously wasn’t a stat back then, Ruth’s WAR during his time with the Yankees comes out to 142.6 over the course of the 15 years.

Ruth left the Yankees after the 1934 season when the Yankees discarded him after his performance started to wane. During his time with the Yankees, Ruth helped lead the team to seven World Series titles and he was named American League MVP in 1923.

Attempt to continue his career post-Yankees

Even though Babe Ruth was 39 after leaving the Yankees, he wasn’t ready to call it a career and went on to try to play one more season after leaving the Yankees. Entering the 1935 season, Ruth returned to Boston — but this time he played for the then-Boston Braves of the National League.

He signed with them partly because he hoped to become the team’s manager the following season. He ultimately only played in 28 games in 1935, hitting .181 with six home runs and 12 RBI in 72 at-bats. With Ruth’s skills clearly diminished and his numbers quickly going down, Ruth decided to call it a career and ultimately retired at age 40 after playing his final major league game on May 30, 1935.

Despite Ruth’s time with the Yankees ending on not-so-amicable terms, the team still retired his No. 3 jersey in 1948 to honor the strong performances he put up in his 15 seasons in the Bronx. Ruth was part of the inaugural National Baseball Hall of Fame class of 1936, becoming one of the first five players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.