Babe Ruth

American baseball player
I swing big, with everything I've got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.

George Herman Ruth (6 February 189516 August 1948) was an American Major League Baseball player from 1914 to 1935, named as the greatest baseball player in history in various surveys and rankings. His career record of 714 home runs stood for 39 years until surpassed by Hank Aaron with 755 home runs in 1974.



I copied Jackson's style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw.
If I'd just tried for them dinky singles I could've batted around six hundred!
It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.
  • Brother Matthias had the right idea about training a baseball club. He made every boy on the team play every position in the game, including the bench. A kid might pitch a game one day and find himself behind the bat the next or perhaps out in the sun-field. You see Brother Matthias' idea was to fit a boy to jump in in any emergency and make good. So whatever I have at the bat or on the mound or in the outfield or even on the bases, I owe directly to Brother Matthias.
  • I always swing at the ball with all my might. I hit or miss big and when I miss I know it long before the umpire calls a strike on me, for every muscle in my back, shoulders and arms is groaning, "You missed it." And be­lieve me, it is no fun to miss a ball that hard. Once I put myself out of the game for a few days by a miss like that.
    • From "How to Hit Home Runs,", published by the United Press in August 1920; reprinted in Playing the Game: My Early Years in Baseball (2011), p. 29
  • There's one thing in baseball that always gets my goat and that's the intentional pass. It isn't fair to the batter. It isn't fair to his club. It's a raw deal for the fans and it isn't baseball. By "baseball," I mean good square American sportsmanship because baseball represents America in sport. If we get down to unfair advantages in our national game we are putting out a mighty bad advertisement.
    • From "The Intentional Pass," published by the United Press circa September 1920, reprinted in Playing the Game: My Early Years in Baseball], p. 32
  • There is one hit of mine which will not stay in the official records, but which I believe to be the longest clout ever made off a major league pitcher. At least some of the veteran sport writers told me they never saw such a wallop. The Yanks were playing an exhibition game with the Brooklyn Nationals at Jacksonville, Fla., in April, 1920. Al Mamaux was pitching for Brooklyn. In the first inning, thee first ball he sent me was a nice, fast one, a little lower than my waist, straight across the heart of the plate. It was the kind I murder, and I swung to kill it. The last time we saw the ball it was swinging its way over the 10-foot outfield fence of Southside Park and going like a shot. The ball cleared the fence by at least 75 feet. Let's say the total distance traveled was 500 feet: the fence was 423 feet from the plate. If such a hit had been made at the Polo Grounds, I guess the ball would have come pretty close to the top of the screen in the centerfield bleachers.
    • From "The Longest Hit in Baseball," published by the United Press circa September 1920; reprinted in Playing the Game: My Early Years in Baseball, p. 39
  • I'm glad that I've played every position on the team, because I feel that I know more about the game and what to expect of the other fellows. Lots of times I hear men being roasted for not doing this or that when I know, from my all round experience, that they couldn't have been expected to do it. It's a pity some of our critics hadn't learned the game from every position.
    • From "The Game I Enjoyed Most," published by the United Press circa November 1920; reprinted in Playing the Game: My Early Years in Baseball], p. 79
  • A man who knows he's making money for other people ought to get some of the profits he brings in. Don't make any difference if it's baseball or a bank or a vaudeville show. It's business, I tell you. There ain't no sentiment to it. Forget that stuff.
    • On his demand for $52,000 a year in his 1922 contract, as quoted in The Rivals : The Boston Red Sox Vs. the New York Yankees; An Inside History (2004) by Dan Shaughnessy, p. 40
  • They can boo and hoot me all they want. That doesn't matter to me. But when a fan calls insulting names from the grandstand and becomes abusive I don't intend to stand for it. This fellow today, whoever he was, called me a low-down bum and other names that got me mad, and when I went after him he ran. Furthermore, I didn't throw any dust in Hildebrand's face. It didn't go into his face, only on his sleeve. I don't know what they will do to me for this. Maybe I'll be fined or suspended for kicking on the decision, but I don't see why I should get any punishment at all. I would go into the stands again if I had to.
    • On his temper flaring on May 25, 1922, when he threw dirt at an umpire and chased after a heckler in the stands, as quoted in "Ruth in Row With Umpire and Fan at Polo Grounds" in The New York Times (May 26, 1922), reprinted in Sultans of Swat: The Four Great Sluggers of the New York Yankees (2006) by The New York Times, p. 35
  • Well, I had tried out a few schemes of my own, until one day I began to watch Joe Jackson. He looked to me about the freest, longest hitter I had seen anywhere. He could take a good, natural cut at the ball without losing his balance and when he landed the ball usually kept going until it disappeared. If you will remember, he was the first to hit one over the right field stands at the Polo Grounds. So I said to myself: If that style works so well with Jackson, why not for me? And I began keeping my right foot well forward and my left foot well back. In the first place, being a left-handed hitter, this gave me a chance to get in a lot of leverage and to get my full weight back of the punch. It brought my body around in a half turn and as I stepped into the ball with my right foot I was turning in a natural way in the same direction my bet was traveling. I tried this idea out; it worked great—and I've stuck to it ever since.
    • As quoted in "The Sportlight: Learning From Others" by Grantland Rice, in The New York Tribune (March 15, 1923), p. 14
  • "Don't worry about my weight. Fifteen pounds more and I'll be grand. I never felt better in my life. I'm going to lead the league in batting again and maybe I'll make a new home run record.
    • Speaking to reporters after arriving at spring training significantly overweight, roughly one month before being hospitalized and missing the first six weeks of the 1925 season, his worst as a Yankee, as quoted in "At the Training Camps," The Florence Times (February 28,1925)
  • After all, there's only one answer to be made to the young fellow who is asking constantly for advice as to how to hit. The answer is: "Pick out a good one and sock it!"
    • Babe Ruth's Own Book of Baseball (1928)
  • What the hell has Hoover got to do with it? Anyway, I had a better year than he did.
    • Oft-cited but likely apocryphal variation on Ruth's defense of his Hoover-exceeding salary demands (structurally similar, albeit in bolder, considerably more streamlined fashion, to the contemporaneously reported Ruth quote of January 7, 1930—see above); as quoted in Babe Ruth: The Big Moments of the Big Fellow (1947) by Tom Meany, p. 139
    • Unsourced variants: Hey, I had a better year than he did.
      Why not, I had a better year than he did.
      I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.
  • Hell no, it isn't a fact. Only a damned fool would do a thing like that. You know there was a lot of pretty rough ribbing going on on both benches during that Series. When I swung and missed that first one, those Cubs really gave me a blast. So I grinned at 'em and held out one finger and told 'em it'd only take one to hit it. Then there was that second strike and they let me have it again. So I held up that finger again and I said I still had that one left. Naw, keed, you know damned well I wasn't pointin' anywhere. If I'd have done that, Root would have stuck the ball right in my ear. And besides that, I never knew anybody who could tell you ahead of time where he was going to hit a baseball. When I get to be that kind of fool, they`ll put me in the booby hatch.
  • I decided to pick out the greatest hitter to watch and study, and Jackson was good enough for me. I liked the way he kept his right foot forward, being a left-handed hitter, and his left foot back. That gave him more body and shoulder power than the average hitter has.
  • Make no mistake about that. The old boy was the greatest player I ever saw or hope to see. When I was pitching I had fair success against all the other great hitters, but Cobb was one guy I never could get out. I had a reputation for being a slugger and I guess I could hit 'em pretty far at that, but that guy Cobb could do everything--better than any player I ever saw. Old Georgia Peach was a great hitter, a spectacular fielder, a wonderfui thrower and oh boy, how he could run.
  • They say I used to scare pitchers just by strolling to the plate but those guys always had a remedy for me. Whenever they were afraid I'd knock one out of the park, they'd walk me and their worries would be over. But once Cobb got on base then their worries really began. He would upset not only the pitcher or catcher, but the infield as well by going from first to third on a sacrifice bunt, scoring from second on an infield out, taking two bases on an outfield fly and making delayed steals. Fans still talk about the home run I hit in the 1932 World Series off Charley Root of the Cubs after I pointed to the rightfield stands. Well, I once remember Cobb beating out four bunts down the third base line in one game against Billy Bradley, a wonderful third baseman for Cleveland. That was after Cobb warned Bradley he would bunt to him every time he got up. Another time Cobb warned Lou Criger, a great catcher with Boston, that he would steal second, third and home on him first chance he got. Well, the first time up Cobb walked and on three pitches stole second, third and home against the dumbfounded Criger.
  • I didn't mean to hit the umpire with the dirt, but I did mean to hit that bastard in the stands.
    • Revisiting the May 1922 dirt-throwing, fan-chasing incident, in 'The Babe Ruth Story (1948) by Ruth and Bob Considine
  • Yes, he's a prick, but he sure can hit. God Almighty, that man can hit!
    • About Ty Cobb, a notoriously vicious player. Quoted in The Sporting News (12 July 1950); as actually published in The Sporting News, "prick" was replaced by "[censored]" — elsewhere, including Field of Screams: The Dark Underside of America's National Pastime (1994) the quote has appeared as "Ty Cobb is a prick." or sometimes "Cobb is a prick. But he sure can hit. God Almighty, that man can hit."
  • If it wasn't for baseball, I'd be in either the penitentiary or the cemetery. I have the same violent temper my father and older brother had. Both died of injuries from street fights in Baltimore, fights begun by flare-ups of their tempers.
    • As quoted in Baseball as I Have Known It (1996) by Fred Lieb, p. 154
  • Keed, I'll give you a little bit of advice. Don't believe anything they write about you, good or bad. Two, get the dough while the getting is good, but don't break your heart trying to get it. And don't pick up too many checks!
    • Advice to Red Grange as quoted in The Wicked City: Chicago from Kenna to Capone (1998) by Curt Johnson and R. Craig Sautter, p. 159; Unsourced variant: Don't ever forget two things I'm going to tell you. One, don't believe everything that's written about you. Two, don't pick up too many checks.
  • If I'd just tried for them dinky singles I could've batted around six hundred!
    • As quoted in Stolen! : A History of Base Stealing (1999) by Russell Roberts, Ch. 4 "The Babe Blasts the Steal" p. 71
  • I swing as hard as I can, and I try to swing right through the ball. In boxing, your fist usually stops when you hit a man, but its possible to hit so hard that your fist doesn't stop. I try to follow through in the same way. The harder you grip the bat, the more you can swing it through the ball, and the farther the ball will go. I swing big, with everything I've got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.
    • As quoted in Go for the Gold: Thoughts on Achieving Your Personal Best (2001) by Ariel Books
  • The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.
    • As quoted in Great Quotes to Inspire Great Teachers (2001) by Noah BenShea, p. 39
  • Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.
    • As quoted in Weird Ideas That Work : 11 1/2 practices for promoting, managing, and sustaining innovation (2001) by Robert I. Sutton, p. 95
  • It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.
    • As quoted in The 100 Greatest Heroes : Inspiring Profiles of One Hundred Men and Women Who Changed the World (2003) by Harry Paul Jeffers
  • All ballplayers should quit when it starts to feel as if all the baselines run uphill.
    • As quoted in The 100 Greatest Heroes (2003) by Harry Paul Jeffers
  • I'll promise to go easier on drinking and to get to bed earlier, but not for you, fifty thousand dollars, or two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars will I give up women. They're too much fun.
    • As quoted in The Business of Baseball (2003) by Albert Theodore Powers, p. 61
  • I copied Jackson's style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He's the guy who made me a hitter.
  • I only have one: whenever I hit a home run I make certain to touch all four bases.
    • When asked if he had any superstitions, as quoted in The Everything Kids' Baseball Book: Today's Superstars, Great Teams, Legends — and Tips on Playing (2006) by Greg Jacobs
    • Unsourced variants : Just one. Whenever I hit a home run, I make certain I touch all four bases.
      I have only one superstition. I touch all the bases when I hit a home run.

Farewell Address (1947)Edit

"Babe Ruth Day" in Yankee Stadium, New York, New York (27 April 1947) Full text online + audo link]
  • Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. You know how bad my voice sounds. Well, it feels just as bad. You know this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you've been a boy, and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in our national pastime.
  • The only real game — I think — in the world is baseball.
  • There's been so many lovely things said about me, and I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to thank everybody. Thank you.


  • Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games
    • The earliest quotes similar to this are presented as unattributed folk wisdom, such as this example from 1959:
      • As Brother Allen of Newsweek indicated, it has been fun, but don't try to rest on your laurels. Always remember, “YESTERDAY’S HOME-RUN DOESN’T COUNT IN TODAY’S GAME,” and today’s game is well under way.[1]
    • The quote does not begin to be attributed to Babe Ruth until the 1980s, nearly 30 years after its first appearance.[2]

Quotes about RuthEdit

Alphabetized by author
  • He was going on my show. I introduce him and this big, garrulous guy – he can’t say a word. Mute. I read his script on air and now I’m Ruth as Babe tries to compose himself, smoking and leaning against the wall. You know something? We pull it off. I sign off and Babe hasn’t made a sound.
  • A suitcase.
    • Ping Bodie, when asked to identify his Yankee roommate, circa 1920 (i.e. Babe Ruth), thus making reference to Ruth's customary disregard for team curfews; as quoted in "Ping Bodie, Big League Fielder Dies; Colorful Player Spent 4 Seasons as Yank," in The New York Herald Tribune (December 19, 1961), p. 16
  • We picked up "Who"s Who in America" yesterday to get some vital statistics about Babe Ruth, and found to our surprise that he was not in the book. Even as George Herman Ruth there is no mention of him. The nearest name we could find was: "Roth, Filibert, forestry expert; b. Wurttemberg, Germany, April 20, 1858 [...] There is in our heart not an atom of malice against Prof. Roth (since September 1903, he has been "prof. forestry, U. Mich."), and yet we question the justice of his admission to a list of national celebrities while Ruth stands without. We know, of course, that Prof. Roth is the author of "'Forest Conditions in Wisconsin" and "The Uses of Wood," but we wonder whether he has been able to describe in words uses of wood more sensational and vital than those which Ruth has shown in deeds. Hereby we challenge the editor of "Who"s Who in America" to debate the affirmative side of the question: Resolved, That Prof. Roth's volume called "Timber Physics" has exerted a more profound influence in the life of America than Babe Ruth's 1921 home run record.
  • No one ever requires more than one glance to identify Babe Ruth. Even a wholly ignorant person who had never heard of him would probably stop in wonder at the sight of Babe waddling by. It must be clear to all beholders that here is some great, primitive force harking back to the dim days of the race. William Jennings Bryan might well look upon the Babe and recant. To be sure, a certain ingenuity was required to fit just the proper name upon this personality. As George Herman Ruth he might have gone far but he could hardly have reached the heights. The man who made him by the gift of "Babe" ought to draw a substantial royalty from Ruth's mighty income. But probably no single individual hit upon the happy thought. Undoubtably a mass movement was required. Babe Ruth has all the vigor and vitality of a piece of folk literature.
  • I can't honestly say that I appreciate the way in which he changed baseball — from a game of science to an extension of his powerful slugging — but he was the most natural and unaffected man I ever knew. No one ever loved life more. No one ever inspired more youngsters. I have reverence for his marvelous ability . I look forward to meeting him again some day.
    • Ty Cobb, in My Life In Baseball : The True Record (1961), Ch. 16 : The Babe and I, p. 222
  • Words fail me. When he stood up there at the bat before 50,000 persons, calling the balls and the strikes with gestures for the benefit of the Cubs in their dugout, and then with two strikes on him, pointed out where he was going to hit the next one and hit it there, I gave up. That fellow is not human.
    • Bill Corum in the New York World Journal, one of two reporters who controversially declared that Ruth had "called his shot" prior to hitting a home-run in a game against the Chicago Cubs; as quoted in Baseball, Chicago Style: A Tale of Two Teams, One City (2001) by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass, Ch. 8 "Who Called What?" p. 76
  • In the nineteen-twenties, visiting Britons took in a visit to the Yankee Stadium to see the Babe in action as dutifully as they went to Niagara, Washington, Mt. Vernon. They inferred an approximate tribute in regarding Ruth as the American Jack Hobbs. However, it is no slight to any cricketer, living or dead, or even to the redoubtable Ty Cobb, the master of the baseball ancients, to say that Ruth was the W.G. Grace of baseball. He was not only a player of unapproachable skill but he transformed the game from an affair of sacrifices, stealing bases, agile lobs that had the batters hopping traditionally from one base to the next, to constant strain after the one huge hit that had the men at base rolling home like trotting ponies, while the scoreboard clocked runs with a one-two-three alacrity. The fluid pattern of the modern game, and its continuous suspense through "the one big inning," is wholly his creation.
    • Alistair Cooke, in "The Incomparable Babe's Death: A Hercules Done by Disney," 'The Manchester Guardian' (August 18, 1948), p. 8
  • He was a superman and yet his legs were spindly. He was a big florid man, yet all his movements were dainty as a squirrel's. He was gentle to children and could be blasphemous to adults. He was Hercules with bat in hand, but he was Hercules done by Disney. And this unfailing whimsicality, of gesture and mood, tempered by the inhumanity of his skill, made him at one with his audience, made it possible, in the subtle Chaplin way, for the lame and fumbling and the mousy to see in him the embodiment of their delusions of power and fame.
    • Alistair Cooke, in "The Incomparable Babe's Death: A Hercules Done by Disney"
  • And in 1932, I saw that Babe Ruth home run against the Cubs in the World Series, and I definitely know he pointed to center field. There was no doubt about it. He did call his shot.
  • As for the booze-begotten yarn about Babe Ruth's 'called-shot,' I was there that day—at the elbow of Damon Runyon, no less, assigned to provide Runyon with any information he wanted about the Cubs or anyone else. No one in the press box or emergency press box that day, nobody at the press party that evening, and no one the next day even mentioned the incident except to emphasize the bitter exchange between the Cubs and Yankees. Charlie Root first laughed and, in his later years, grew angry when asked about it. One of the last letters I had from Dorothy Root before she died thanked me as a prophet of truth and the Babe himself, in Boston in 1935, said to me pretty much the same as your quote from Hal Totten.
  • He always threw to the right base. We say that about most outfielders. Ruth always threw to the right base. DiMaggio always threw to the right base. The others maybe did, maybe didn’t. Mays most of the time threw to the right base, but Ruth always threw to the right base.
  • So we went to see Babe Ruth pitch the last game of the 1933 season. The Senators had already clinched the pennant, the Giants had clinched in the other league, so this was just a nothing game. I thought maybe he’d make an appearance, pitch an inning or two or three – he pitched a complete game. He hadn’t pitched a complete game since 1930, and then he pitched a complete game. And before that he had pitched two four-inning stints for the Yankees, so he pitched four times. So he pitched a complete game, he gave up twelve hits, it was not a great pitching performance, but the Yankees won, 7-5. He didn’t strike out a soul. Years later I saw him on Broadway. I went up to him and said, “Hi, Babe.” He said, “Hi, kid.” That’s the way he treated everybody. I said, “You know, I saw you pitch your last game at the Stadium.” This was maybe eight years later or so. I said, “How come you didn’t strike out anybody?” And he said, “I wanted those other eight guys to earn their money!” And that was Ruth.
  • He wasn’t a baseball player. He was a worldwide celebrity, an international star, the likes of which baseball has never seen since.
    • Ernie Harwell, as quoted in The 100 Greatest Heroes (2003) by Harry Paul Jeffers, p. 226
  • In the season of 1920, and the current one, the great American sport has undergone a complete metamorphosis and, except in its essentials, is radically different from the game which obtained for a great many years. The pitching is different—perhaps not so good; but the great change, the change which appeals to the fans and most of the players, is that each and every game has become a slugging contest, with home-run hits a-plenty and extra-base hits galore. Who is responsible for this metamorphosis in baseball? Babe Ruth. Yes, Ruth and his home-run hitting have done more to change the style of the modern game than all the other agencies combined. Others have seen him just bang away and smash the ball to all corners of the lot and over the fence, and have said to themselves: "If he can do it, so can I," and they have gone out, one and all, to try to make good. Hence the new game of baseball.
  • Some twenty years ago I stopped talking about the Babe for the simple reason that I realized that those who had never seen him didn't believe me.
    • Tommy Holmes, as quoted in Strawberries in the Wintertime : The Sporting World of Red Smith (1974) by Red Smith, p. 10
  • The Babe is just as entitled to his $85,000 a year as the money earned by any entertainer—and there's a score or more of these persons who have incomes larger than that which Ruth demands. One might say that his demand is based on the old theory of supply and demand. It's useless to compare his salary with that of President Hoover or the big business executives of the country. They can be replaced by other men of practically the same ability but there's been only one Ruth in the history of baseball.
  • Babe's interviewer interrupted to point the hole in which Babe put himself Saturday when he pointed out the spot he intended hitting his home run and asked the Great Man if he realized how ridiculous he would have appeared if he had struck out?
    "I never thought of it," said the Great Man. He simply had made up his mind to hit a home run and he did.
    • Tom Meany, in the New York World Telegram in his controversial report that Ruth had "called his shot" prior to hitting a home-run; as quoted in Baseball, Chicago Style: A Tale of Two Teams, One City (2001) by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass, Ch. 8 "Who Called What?" p. 76
  • A salary equal to that of President Hoover is not enough for "Babe Ruth," darling of the American baseball world, and the hero of every schoolboy in the U.S. The offer of a contract of 75,000 dollars per annum by the owner of the New York Yankees, for whom the Sultan of Swat (as the baseball writers call him) plays, has been peremptorily declined, the canny "Babe" demanding instead a three-year contract at 85,000 dollars yearly.
  • When Babe Ruth goes after a run
    To establish his place in the sun,
    He can make any hurler
    Or pitcher or twirler
    Look like the Crown Prince of Verdun.
    • Grantland Rice, in "The Sportlight: The Chief Returns; Concerning the Babe", The New York Tribune (August 30, 1919), p. 10
  • Babe Ruth might consider Mr. Gray's lines as to where "the paths of glory" lead to. Buck Freeman, who held the 25 home run record for twenty years, is now an umpire.
    • Grantland Rice, in "The Sportlight: Rhymes of the Ancient Rooter; Earned Back and Forth; Concerning the Punch; The Walloping Year", The New York Tribune (September 11, 1919), p. 10
  • They offered Babe Ruth the same salary that Mr. Hoover gets. Babe claims he should have more. He can't appoint a commission to go up and knock the home runs; he has to do it all himself.
  • Fanning this Ruth is not as easy as the name and occupation might indicate. In the third frame Ruth knocked the slant out of one of Jack Warhop's underhanded subterfuges, and put the baseball in the right field stand for a home run. Ruth was discovered by Jack Dunn in a Baltimore school a year ago when he had not yet attained his lefthanded majority, and was adopted, and adapted, by Jack for the uses of the Orioles. He is now quite a pitcher and a demon hitter—when he connects.


  1. F. N. Abbott, "On Your Marks", in Bird (ed.), Harry L. (1959). The Palm, vol lxxix, no. 1 (February 1959). Champaign, IL: Alpha Tau Omega. p. 17. 

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