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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.

Contents

QuotesEdit

 
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.
  • You can say for me that I will not play with the Red Sox unless I get $20,000. You may think that sounds like a pipe dream, but it is the truth. I feel that I made a bad move last year when I signed a three years' contract to play for $30,000. The Boston club realized much on my value and I think I am entitled to twice as much as my contract calls for. The contract has two years to run, I know. It may be ironbound as far as the Boston club is concerned, but I think with the 10-day clause in it I am entitled to the same privileges as the club. Well, that is a matter for the owners to right, and as my business is in another direction just at present I am going to wait to hear from them.
    • As quoted in "$20,000 Yearly the Figure Ruth Names; Cheering Message to Frazee On His Way to Films" by John J. Hallahan, in The Boston Globe (October 25, 1919), p. 5
  • I'm afraid that someday I'll kill some pitcher. It is one thing I've always dreaded. My heart stood still in that game in Detroit when I almost got Ehmke with that drive through the box. I thought for a certainty that the ball would hit him before he got his hands up to protect himself. A couple of pitchers have asked me not to hit the ball back at them, and I always try not to. Why should I try to hurt any ball players? We are all out there trying to make a living, and no man worthwhile would deliberately try to injure another.
    • As quoted in "Ruth Has One Great Fear: May Drive Ball Back At Pitcher Some Day and Injure Him," in The Lousiville Courier-Journal (July 18, 1920), p. C3
  • That's easy. The new rules have made these pitchers turn square, and their offerings have been clouted. I know some pitchers who used the old emery and the shiner and all the rest, and they were bearcats. Now they have to get by on their natural ability and they don't rate so high. I can think of one pitcher who was a wonder last year. They took the old sail ball away from him, and now he hasn't enough to get by in a good class AA league. So it goes. They say that the ball is livelier. I think that is the old bunk. The pitchers are not pitching as they used to and the batters have a better chance.
    • As quoted in "Ruth Has One Great Fear: May Drive Ball Back At Pitcher Some Day and Injure Him"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The one that I missed.
    • When asked what pitch he found hardest to hit, as quoted in "Bunts and Bingles" by Billy BIngle, in The Louisville Courier-Journal (August 28, 1921), p. D4
  • I am going through with my barnstorming tour to the end. Bob Meusel and the other Yanks on my club agree with me that it will not hurt the game, as Landis fears. In fact, if anything, it will create more interest in next year's campaign for me to play out this tour. If Landis wants to put me out of organized baseball, let him do so. I will continue the tour.
  • A man who works for another is not going to be paid any more than he is worth; you can bet on that. A man ought to get what he can earn. Don't make any difference whether it's running a farm, running a bank or running a show; a man who knows he's making money for other people ought to get some of the profits he brings in. It's business, I tell you. There ain't no sentiment to it. Forget that stuff.
    • Responding to a reporter asking whether or not he believed that other players merited salaries comparable to his own (i.e. $52,000 a year, as per Ruth's newly signed 1922 contract), as quoted in "Have to Get More of 'Em,' Says Babe Ruth When He Hears of the Income Tax," in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (March 10, 1922)
  • I've got five big years ahead of me now, and I guess I'll have five more after that. What's the use of going further along than that? I haven't even thought of quitting the game. I feel like I was just starting in to begin. 'Course baseball is different from anything else. Look at those birds sitting across the lobby. They are business men, getting 'fit' for the season, too. But they are middle-aged, and gray and in what you birds call the prime of life. I'll be 33 when my new contract ends and a lot of people are reading me out of the game already. I'm going to be a business man, too, in baseball. Experience helps you a lot in this game, just as in any other.
    • As quoted in 'Have to Get More of 'Em,' Says Babe Ruth When He Hears of the Income Tax"
  • 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 (March 2, 1925), p. 4
  • Hotter than hell, ain't it, Prez?
    • On meeting President Calvin Coolidge, circa mid-1920s, on a sweltering day before a game against Washington, as recalled by Waite Hoyt in Babe Ruth: A Look Behind the Legend, a documentary produced by Howard Cosell, which aired August 15, 1963 on WABC-TV; quoted in "TV: A Look Behind Babe Ruth Legend; Study of Sultan of Swat Is Realistic Account" by John P. Shanley, in The New York Times (August 16, 1963), p. 53
  • Speaking of that last contract signing reminds me of a good laugh I had at the expense of the newspaper boys. There were a couple of dozen of them sticking around when I signed, some of them fellows who had been traveling with the Yankees for several seasons; fellows whom I know intimately and well. Yet in their stories, every one of them wrote about me signing that contract with my left hand and some of the newspapers even ran pictures showing me signing left-handed! How they managed it I don't know—for as a matter of fact I write with my right hand now, and I always have. I'm left-handed in everything else I do, but when it comes to writing I'm as right-handed as any right-hander you ever saw. It just goes to show that people take a lot of things for granted. They don't observe things closely, particularly things about which they feel confident.
  • If you happen to be a baseball fan who reads the newspapers you've probably noticed that before a world series or any other big series the writers always print long stories of comparisons between individual players. They point out that Lou Gehrig, for instance, will hit a ball farther and harder than Joe Harris, but that Pie Traynor can go farther to his left than Joe Dugan. That's interesting—but so far as doping out the winner of the series is concerned, it's bunk. And it always gives the ball players a laugh. For ball players know that it isn't individuals who count. It's the way a team plays as a whole that determines its offensive power or its defensive strength. Smart ball players and smart managers consider offense and defense as units, knowing that it takes nine men to do the fielding and nine hitters to make up a batting order that will score runs.
  • Pitchers—real pitchers— know that their job isn't so much to keep opposing batsmen from hitting as it is to make them hit it at someone. The trouble with most kid pitchers is that they forget there are eight other men on the team to help them. They just blunder ahead, putting everything they have on every pitch and trying to carry the weight of the whole game on their shoulders. The result is that they tire out and go bad along in the middle of the game, and then the wise old heads have to hurry out and rescue them. I've seen a lot of young fellows come up, and they all had the same trouble. Take Lefty Grove over at Philadelphia, for instance. There isn't a pitcher in the league who has more speed or stuff than Lefty. He can do things with a baseball that make you dizzy. But when he first came into the league he seemed to think that he had to strike out every batter as he came up. The result was he'd go along great for five or six innings, and them blow. And he's just now learning to conserve his strength. In other words, he's learning that a little exercise of the noodle will save a lot of wear and tear on his arm.
  • 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!" I've talked to a lot of pretty good hitters in the past ten years and I've watched them work. Go over the list from top to bottom—Hornsby, Goslin, Heilmann, Gehrig, Traynor, Cobb, Judge, Bottomley, Roush—there's not a "guess" hitter in the lot. They all tell you the same thing "I never think about whether it's a curve or a fast one that's coming. I simply get set—and if the ball looks good, I sock it."
  • Before I'm through with the big leagues I've got three more ambitions I'd like to realize. [...] I'd like to hit 500 home runs before I end my big league career. And I ought to do it easily. I already have 480 in regular season games. [...] Another is to play in 10 World Series before I quit. And that's one I think I will realize too. I've already been in nine. [...] The third one had the boys guessing. The newspaper man guessed and guessed and never hit upon it. As a matter of fact, it hasn't anything to do with baseball records at all. Maybe I'll realize it and maybe I won't. But my third ambition is to play at least one season at a salary of $100,000 a year. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that now to boost my game and I'm not out with any announcement of my demands. I've played with Colonel Ruppert a long time and we've never had any serious disagreements. I know that if I can show him that I'm worth that much money, he'll give it to me. And I'm out to show him. Understand it's strictly up to me. And I mention it here simply because of the question the newspaper man asked me and the answer I gave him.
    • In "Babe Ruth Says: I Would Like to Better Mark," The Austin Statesman (June 25, 1929), p. 11
  • My answer to that [i.e. the question of whether Ruth hoped to set a new single-season HR record] was "No." I don't believe I can ever better my 60 mark that I made in 1927. And, frankly, I don't believe anyone else will beat it for a long time either.
    • In "Babe Ruth Says: I Would Like to Better Mark"
  • Of course I'm not kidding myself. My recent illness proved to me that I've reached the place now where I've got to take particularly good care of myself. A lot of the boys have been kidding me because they said that illness "scared me to death." Frankly it did scare me and I'm still scared. I hope to stay scared to the point where I never forget that taking care of myself is the most important thing in my life from now on.
    • In "Babe Ruth Says: I Would Like to Better Mark"
  • Say, if I hadn't been sick last summer, I'd have broken hell out of that home run record! Besides, the President gets a four-year contract. I'm only asking for three.
    • Speaking on January 7, 1930, when asked what made him think he was "worth more than the President of the United States," as quoted in "Yanks Refuse Ruth's Demand For $100,000; Star Asks That Figure On 3-Year Contract or $85,000 and No Exhibitions" by Richards Vidmer, in The New York Herald Tribune (January 8, 1930); also quoted in part—i.e. "The President gets a four-year contract; I'm only asking for three"—later that month in a syndicated story by NEA sportswriter Claire Burcky.
      Immediately following is the virtually ubiquitous but almost certainly apocryphal "I had a better year..." variation; in addition, see related contemporaneous quotes from Brian Bell, Herbert Hoover, Albert Keane, Reuters and Will Rogers in Quotes about Ruth.
  • 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, and reproduced shortly thereafter in several book reviews, most notably an informal review by New York Times columnist Arthur Daley, who would go on to resurrect the quote, with slightly altered wordings, in at least four subsequent columns, including one in August 1948 and in April 1951.
    • 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.
  • As Duke Ellington once said, "the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Elkton." [...] About that Wellington guy, I wouldn't know. Ellington, yes. As for that Eton business — well, I married my first wife in Elkton, and I always hated the place. It musta stuck.
    • Failed attempt—during a partially scripted radio interview, broadcast live on August 13, 1930—to deliver a familiar but apparently apocryphal quote, followed by his explanation for that failure; as quoted in The Tumult and the Shouting; My Life in Sport (1954) by Grantland Rice; reprinted in "The World I Loved — Part 1: My Baseball Hall of Fame" by Rice, in The New York Herald Tribune (October 3, 1954), pp. 8-9
  • I don't believe that the average fellow has anything like a true line on the value of wrist action in hitting anything—a baseball, a golf ball, a tennis ball or a polo ball. If you watch most of them, you will see they are trying to hit with their bodies, with their shoulders, with their arms—with almost everything except their wrists. I think it comes because most of them are overanxious, all tied up, too tense. They start by gripping too tightly. That kills off the hands and wrists. Their wrists get locked and then they have to swing their shoulders and bodies in. You'd be surprised how far a fellow can hit a ball, using only his wrists. I know I've been caught off guard or out of position on a sharp breaking curve, have had to slap at the ball, using only my wrists and have now and then watched it sail over the fence. The wrist is the mainspring—both wrists in baseball and golf. If you get them to work the rest is fairly easy. If you don't get them to work you are not going to do any good hitting. You can't get any speed in closing a door if the hinges are rusty and won't work. Hack Wilson must have great wrist action, for no short, stocky guy is going to hit that many home runs without a lot of it.
    • As quoted in "The Sportlight" by Grantland Rice, in The Baltimore Sun (August 22, 1930), p. 13
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Honest, I was never happier in my life. I've felt that I was facing a kind of all-round challenge—the challenge of 41 years, the challenge that comes from carrying 230 pounds for 21 seasons, the challenge from a bunch of National League pitchers who want to prove that I can't hit as well in this league as I did in the American and the doubt exists that I can be of any help to our team through another year. It's keyed me up and given me a fresh target. I feel better than I have felt in four years. My legs haven't bothered me a bit. Bill McKechnie is a great guy to work for, and I am going to give him and Boston everything I have.
    • As quoted in "'Never Happier in My Life' Ruth Tells Grantland Rice; Babe Is Inspired by Challenge of National League Pitchers—Legs Feel Great" by Grantland Rice, in The Boston Globe (March 26, 1935), p. 21
  • You can bother me to autograph anything you want. When you quit bothering me to sign autographs, then I'll know I'm through. Slip me the old apple and a pen. And tell 'em to keep on bothering me.
    • Speaking to autograph seeker, as quoted in "'Never Happier in My Life' Ruth Tells Grantland Rice..."
  • I'm out there on my own this season as a ball player. Right now, I don't think the fans care anything about me being a vice-president of the club or what I would do as a manager. That's all out this season. It's the old Babe on the old job—a ball player. It has been the only job I ever knew. It was the only job that put me where I happen to be right now. I'd rather make good as a ball player this season than anything I ever did. I'm not kidding myself. I'm not going to be any Tris Speaker in that outfield. The old dogs are going to do a lot of barking. But they've barked before. And you know—a barking dog seldom bites.
    • As quoted in "'Never Happier in My Life' Ruth Tells Grantland Rice..."
  • I suppose that American League pitchers have been feeding me soft ones for 21 years. I know how they all feel, and I don't blame 'em. They'd rather strike out the Babe than anyone else. For I've been a little lucky in the home run racket. They've walked me more than 2000 times and I've never squawked. You see, I used to be a pitcher myself. Those 2000 walks and those 700 or so home runs saved my legs. Anyhow, I've had pretty good legs. They talk about Ty Cobb's legs. He had about the best pair I ever knew of in baseball. But Ty was carrying 180 pounds for 24 years, and I've had to carry from 230 to 250 pounds. I've had to carry 50 to 70 pounds more than Cobb ever had to carry. I never talked to a horse, but I'd like to ask Equipoise or Twenty Grand or Cavalcade or some of the others just how much difference 50 or 70 pounds would make in a race. And I'm not supposed to be a horse or a tank.
    • Responding to NL pitchers' stated intention—as relayed by Rice—to "bear down on" Ruth in 1935; as quoted in "'Never Happier in My Life' Ruth Tells Grantland Rice..."
  • Sure I'll miss it. But I'm not enough of a lunkhead to think I could go on forever. Tunney, Dempsey and Bob Jones missed the action of their games for a while, but not for long. I guess the tough part will be when the bunch blow in and I'll be up there in the stands looking on. But on the other hand I won't be dragging those aching dogs and bum legs over those hard diamonds. I can do what I want now. I'll stay and loaf here until April and then head North again. But I'll take the trip in one jump—not twenty.
    • As quoted in "Babe Ruth, Idle First time In 23 Years, Blames His Legs" by Grantland Rice, in The Baltimore Sun (February 19, 1936), p. 14
  • My biggest home run thrill? The day I called that one on Root in the Yankee-Cub series. The whole crowd was riding me. I was riding 'em back with even rougher language. The Chicago bench was yelling "Onya—onya—onya—you big yellow bum." Root had thrown me two bad balls I didn't like. I protested both, then I pointed to the flag police in center field. I knew Root would feed me another just like the first two, so I moved up about eight inches closer and gave it the works. They tell me when they found that ball it was lopsided, shaped like an egg. I just got to thinking later what a terrible heel I'd have been that day if Root had struck me out, but I never thought of that till later. It's a good thing I didn't. What a mug I'd have been.
    • As quoted in "Babe Ruth, Idle First time In 23 Years, Blames His Legs"
  • Nothing to it. Those Yankees were the best team. Figure it out. After we got going we won twelve straight World Series games—twelve in a row. It was murder. The Red Sox had the greatest outfield with Lewis, Speaker and Hooper. But the Yankees had the greatest punch baseball ever knew. We never even worried five or six runs behind. Ruth—GehrigLazerriCombsDickey—wham, wham, and wham—no matter who was pitching.
    • As quoted in "Babe Ruth, Idle First time In 23 Years, Blames His Legs"
  • In pitching, control is the main thing—one thing you've got to have. Few pitchers have it. In batting, it is timing—waiting on the ball, not hurrying the swing—just as it is in golf. Most hitters in baseball swing too quickly. They can't wait on the pitch. Old Joe Jackson could wait. So could Speaker and Cobb
    • As quoted in "Babe Ruth, Idle First time In 23 Years, Blames His Legs"
  • 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 was a bad kid. I say this without pride but with a feeling that it is better to say it. I live with one great hope: to help kids who now stand where I stood as a boy. If what I have to say here helps even one of them avoid some of my own mistakes, or take heart from such triumphs as I have had, this book will serve its purpose.
    • Opening paragraph from The Babe Ruth Story (1948) by Ruth and Bob Considine; reproduced in "Sports of the Times: The Babe's Own Story" by Arthur Daley, in The New York Times (April 26, 1948), p. 30
  • It was at St. Mary’s that I met and learned to love the greatest man I’ve ever known. His name was Brother Matthias. He was the father I needed. He taught me to read and write — and he taught me the difference between right and wrong.
  • I didn't mean to hit the umpire with the dirt, but I did mean to hit that bastard in the stands.
  • 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."
  • A ballplayer should quit when it starts to feel as if all the baselines run uphill.
  • 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 (1977) by Fred Lieb, p. 154
  • I only have one superstition: I make sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.
    • As quoted in Baseball's Greatest Quotes (1982) by Kevin Nelson; reproduced in "Morning Briefing: Babe Ruth Was Not a Superstitious Man, Except on 714 Occasions," in The Los Angeles Times (March 1, 1982), p. D2
    • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.

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.


DisputedEdit

  • 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.
  • He had real good stuff. I mean real good. His fast ball took off and his curve was quick. And he could get the ball over. He was always around the plate. It was funny, though. He had a cute trick of sticking out his tongue on a curve ball. But even though you knew it was coming, you had trouble hitting it. I caught him once in California in an exhibition game one fall. He still had something left. I remember we beat the other team managed by Ty Cobb, 8-7, and Ty sure hated to lose.
    • Del Baker, when asked by teammate Tex Hughson to evaluate Ruth's pitching; as quoted in "Sox Players Pass Time Talking About Bambino" by Ed Rumill, in The Christian Science Monitor (August 18, 1948), p. 12
  • Ruth can hit the ball farther than anyone I ever saw. There has never been anyone like him and I don't think there ever will be. I hope he lives to hit one-hundred homers in a season. I wish him all the luck in the world. He has everybody else hopelessly outclassed, including myself.
  • 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
  • There is no error of fact in the complaint which I present. The pages have been scanned for George Herman Ruth as well as Babe Ruth, but neither name is mentioned. [...] In the spot where one fully expected to come upon Babe Ruth, I found "Roth, Filibert, forestry expert [...]" To be sure, there are striking points of similarity in the career of the two men but they remain something less than synonyms. As far back as 1896, Professor Roth published a volume entitled "The Uses of Wood." No one dreamed at the time that it could be put to any uses as sensational as those introduced by Ruth.[...] It may be that some very plausible hypotheses are outlined in "Timber Physics" as to the best way to secure the greatest possible impact between bat and ball, but after all Roth is not under the strain of making good his beliefs before the eyes of thousands. He can be wrong, even three times in succession, and not one of his students will immediately shout "You're out!" There will be no massed ranks in the bleachers to razz him with contempt. Roth can take his time and go about his problems slowly, calmly and deliberately. No one is seeking to fool him with speed or with spitballs.
  • 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.
    • Heywood Broun, in "Ruth vs. Roth", from Pieces of Hate and Other Enthusiasms (1922)
  • 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
  • Ruth studied opposing hitters, and he studied his own pitchers. He knew how and where every batter could be expected to hit any particular pitch. Consequently, he did a great job of playing the hitter. Many a time on the Detroit or St. Louis bench, I've seen Ruth pull down a hard-hit ball and hear the batter come back to the dugout muttering: "What was that big slob doing playing me there?" The Babe had just played him smart, that's all—moved over a couple of steps according to the pitch, and according to his judgment as to how far, how hard, and whence that batter could be expected to hit that pitch. Ruth never made mistakes in the field. He always threw to the right base, and he had a fine arm—not like Speaker or Meusel, but you couldn't take chances against him.
    • Rip Collins, as quoted in "Greatest Homer Hitter Was Great Fielder, Too" by Weldon Hart, in The Austin Statesman (August 18, 1948), p.
  • 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"
  • 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
  • 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.
  • So the Babe's through, eh? He doesn't have to run if he hits 'em like that. Too bad the Braves aren't here today, or the fans would be fighting to get into the park.
    • Jewel Ens, then-Pirate coach, speaking the day after Ruth hit his final three big league HRs (the last one—number 714—being the first ball ever to clear Forbes Field's right field roof); as quoted in "Sidelights On Sports" by Al Abrams, in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 27, 1935), p. 16
  • 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.
  • I remember him pointing with his bat in his right hand to right field, not center field. But he definitely called his shot.
    • Lefty Gomez, on Ruth's called shot, as quoted in The Day Ruth Called His Shot—Or Did He? by Earl Gustkey, in The Los Angeles Times (October 1, 1982), p. D1
  • 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.
  • Well, Al Simmons is a great hitter. No doubt of that. I think he's a better hitter than young Jimmy Foxx right now; at least I consider him more dangerous up there. But the fellow I'd name for the best hitter in the league is Babe Ruth. The big fellow looked like a million dollars against us in Detroit. Say, he nearly killed Marty McManus with a line drive down the third base line. And a left-hand hitter, too. There never was anybody could hit with him. He tops 'em all.
    • Bucky Harris, as quoted in "Sports of the Times" by John Kieran, in The New York Times (July 25, 1929), p. 31
  • Yes, and the greatest I've ever heard of. Far and away. These other home run hitters are neck and neck. When the Babe was doing his stuff, he was miles ahead of his field. A great fielder and thrower, too. A good base runner. Made the right play instinctively. And don't forget he was one of the great left-hand pitchers of his time. When was there ever another ball player like that?
    • Bucky Harris, confirming that Ruth was indeed the greatest all-around player he'd ever seen, as quoted in "Sports of the Times" (July 25, 1929)
  • 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, speaking with fellow sportswriter Red Smith on August 19, 1948, the day of Ruth's funeral; as quoted in Smith's Strawberries in the Wintertime: The Sporting World of Red Smith (1974), p. 10
  • You may want to do a little autograph trading and I understand it takes five Hoovers to get one Babe Ruth.
    • Herbert Hoover, explaining himself to a young autograph seeker as he signed his name six times; as quoted in "Hoover Elated by Swift Turn From New Deal" by Philip Kinsley, in The Chicago Tribune (December 18, 1935), p. 4
      See related comments by Brian Bell, Albert Keane, Reuters and Will Rogers in this section, as well as Ruth's statement on January 7, 1930, in Quotes.
  • They may have written more about the Babe than about George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. All I can say new about Ruth is that he hit for power--not average--and had a lifetime batting average of .342. Dead ball or lively ball, he'd hit 60 home runs if they were pitching him softballs.
    • Rogers Hornsby, in My War with Baseball (1962) by Hornsby (as told to Bill Surface), p. 247
  • 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.
  • The hardest hitter the world has ever seen, and he ought to last, too, for some years to come.
    • Willie Keeler, as quoted in "In All Fairness" by W. O. McGeehan, in The New York Tribune (May 31, 1920), p. 12
  • Ruth did point, sure. He definitely raised his right arm. I can remember that. But he did not point to center field. He indicated he'd hit a home run. But as far as pointing to center, no... that was something the sportswriters made up. My gosh, a guy would have to be crazy to do that, with two strikes on him and against a pitcher like Root.
    • Mark Koenig, on Ruth's called shot, as quoted in "The Day Ruth Called His Shot—Or Did He?" by Earl Gustkey, in The Los Angeles Times (October 1, 1982), p. D1
  • As an outfielder, he had good hands and a good arm, and he was pretty fast for a big man. I never saw him drop a fly ball, and he never threw to the wrong base. He hit a lot of homers, of course, but he also had a high average. He even looked good striking out.
  • Now this isn't no reflection on neither of these pitchers which I hope is still friends of mine, but if I was managing a ball club in the American League, I would tell them how to pitch to this bird. I would stand on the mound and throw the first ball to first base and the second ball to second base and the third ball to third base, and then I would turn around and heave the fourth one out in right field, because he couldn't be in all those places at once, and further and more they's a rule that makes a batter stand in the batter's box and if a person pitches in that direction with this guy up why all you can say about them is that they're a sucker.
  • Most enthusiasts think of Ruth only as a mighty batsman. As a matter of fact, he is a very finished outfielder with a marvelous throwing arm. . . Ruth plays a hard-hit ball as well as any outfielder in the business. He goes after a ground ball like an infielder, and for all his size he is a smart and daring base runner.
    • Christy Mathewson, as quoted in Collier's, The National Weekly (Oct. 11, 1924), p.45
  • On hearing that Mr. George Herman Ruth had signed to accept an annual salary of $5,000 less than the President of the United States a dirty-faced little boy approached the flopping idol as he left the brewery of his employer, Colonel Jacob Ruppert. "Say it ain't true, Babe!. Oh, say it ain't true!" pleaded the little lad in a treble of anguish. The great left-hander bowed his head. He could not meet the accusatory gaze of the little lad. His lips trembled as he tried to frame a reply. Then he dashed the tears from his eyes and hurried away, leaving the little boy slumped across the steps of the brewery, sobbing as though his heart would break. It must be true! The effects of these revelations will become obvious in the very near future. This is a commercial age, and the youth of the land will want to become Presidents instead of Babe Ruths. Of course there will be a few who will retain enough of their boyhood ideas to exclaim, "I would rather be left-handed than President," but the majority will look upon the Babe as an idol with plaster of paris feet. The political outlook for the future is ominous.
    • W. O. McGeehan, waxing ironic in the wake of news that Ruth had dropped his initial demand for two years at $100,000 per, signing instead for three years at $70,000, in "Down the Line: The Babe Cashes In," The New York Tribune (March 4, 1927), p. 22
  • That's the kind of hitter for me. The man who can lean against the ball and send it on a ride when there are men ahead of him is the only batter worth thinking about in baseball. There are many players with big batting averages who never advance a runner. Give me the man who meets the ball when a hit will do the most good. He will be a valuable man, no matter what the averages tell.
    • John McGraw, reacting to Ruth's tape-measure HR and RBI single, contributing to Boston's pre-season victory over McGraw's Giants, in "McGraw Seems Strong for Babe Ruth," in The Baltimore Sun (April 7, 1919), p. 9
  • Delahanty was different. He could hit a baseball as hard as any man I have ever seen, but even when taking a terrific smash at a ball, he could drive it into right or left, as the case demanded. I have never seen a hard hitter who could place his drives as Del could. Babe Ruth is a mighty walloper, but Ruth has no idea whether he is going to drive a ball to right, center or left. He merely takes the old wallop and lets nature do the rest. Most of the present-day sluggers belong to that type. In fact, I don't know of one who can combine both systems—who can tear into a ball and place it at the same time.
    • John McGraw, as quoted in "Manager John McGraw Praises Veteran Star," in The Louisville Courier-Journal (May 10. 1919), p. 10
  • My choice of an all-time, all-star team? I'll tell you: Honus Wagner, shortstop and lead-off man, Ty Cobb in center, Willie Keeler in right field, Babe Ruth in left, batting fourth, Lou Gehrig behind him and at first, Rogers Hornsby at second, Jimmy Collins at third, Roger Bresnahan catching and Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson pitching. What a team of sweet hitting, sweet fielding, sweet pitching players that would be. I'd include Ruth as a drawing card and a home run hitter, rather than as a player. But nothing like that will ever happen in baseball, for every manager will always have one or two weak spots.
    • John McGraw, as quoted in The Sporting News (Nov. 20, 1930), p. 7
  • Reginald McKenna's views were presented at some length last month in this publication, with a personality sketch; but it so happened that no mention was made of the fact that the former Chancellor of the British Exchequer is a baseball fan. Is a fan, we say, not was, as the sequence of tenses requires in the foregoing sentence; for at the time the Right Honorable Mr. McKenna was interviewed for The Nation's Business he was not a fan. He was a virgin to baseball. He had not seen a game, Big League or Little. On the last day of his stay he attended a set-to at the Polo Grounds between the Giants and the Yankees in that series which has not become history. A letter was received the other day from Mr. McKenna, acknowledging receipt of a baseball inscribed with the signature of George Herman Ruth, known for short as Babe. The ball was sent to him as a souvenir, and in his thank-you he said: "Never did anyone become a fully-developed 'fan' as rapidly as I. It was a case of love at first sight with Babe Ruth, and I shall cherish the memento you have sent me of that glorious afternoon."
  • 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
  • George Herman Ruth has gobs of jack,
    He drags in shekels with a rake;
    He buys his diamonds by the sack—
    He's settin' jake.
    He recks not of the ancient Greeks,
    He couldn't write a simple thesis;
    He's dumb, but, Bo, his money speaks—
    He's rich as Croesus.
    Yet though I struggle with Greek roots
    And cursed verbs that floor me flat,
    Think you I'd like to fill his boots?
    Youbetcherhat!
  • Guy Bush, the Chicago pitcher, was up on the top step of the dugout, jawing back at him as he took his turn at bat this time. Bush pushed back his big ears, funneled his hands to his mouth, and yelled raspingly at the great man to upset him. The Babe laughed derisively and gestured at him, "Wait, mugg; I'm going to hit one out of the yard." Root threw a strike past him and he held up a finger to Bush, whose ears flapped excitedly as he renewed his insults. Another strike passed him and Bush crawled almost out of the hole to extend his remarks. The Babe held up two fingers this time. Root wasted two balls and the Babe put up two fingers on his other hand. Then, with a warning gesture of his hand to Bush, he sent him the signal for the customers to see. "Now," it said, "this is the one. Look!" And that one went riding in the longest home run ever hit in the park. He licked the Chicago ball club, but he left the people laughing when he said goodbye, and it was a privilege to be present because it is not likely that the scene will ever be repeated in all its elements. Many a hitter may make two home runs, or possibly three, in world series play in years to come, but not the way babe Ruth hit these two. Nor will you ever see an artist call his shot before hitting one of the longest drives ever made on the grounds, in a world series game, laughing and mocking the enemy with two strikes gone.
  • 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.
    • Reuters, in "Baseball: Babe Ruth's Earnings". The Scotsman. January 8, 1930.
      See related comments by Brian Bell, Herbert Hoover, Albert Keane and Will Rogers in this section, as well as Ruth's statement on January 7, 1930, in Quotes.
  • 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
  • The entry that sticks his dome above the crowd becomes an open target for the first wayfarer who strolls along with a bludgeon or a snickersnee. We have received numerous letters stating openly that "Babe" Ruth was a detriment to the Yankees rather than an aid. We have never figured Ruth as valuable an aid as Tris Speaker or Hans Wagner, for two examples. But to say that any man is a detriment to a machine who can average something better than a run a game, exclusive of other tallies driven in, is ridiculous. Cobb cracked all records for run making when he scored 148 tallies in 1911. Ruth passed this mark last year and will break it again this season. And a run is still a run.
    • Grantland Rice, in "The Sportlight," The New York Tribune (August 26, 1921), p. 12
  • The scar is still upon my heart from 1922
    The blight is still upon my soul for what I failed to do
    But now once more the battle cry comes sweeping down the plain
    And I come with lifted mace to wipe away the stain...
    For though I fell as Lucifer in last year's jamboree
    They'll find another "Babe" at bat in 1923.
  • The Babe is staring into space. You could read his thoughts. The bunch would soon be on the way, but he wouldn't be with them. He likes golf, but it hasn't taken the place of 50,000 spectators and the roar of the mob. No one knows better than the Babe how much he'll miss it—for a while. Just as Tunney did and Dempsey did and Bob Jones did. But he'll have his share of fun, and he won't be forgotten. He can say with Keats, in effect, "Till Time, that aged nurse, rocks me to patience." But he is still the showman. In the ball players' golf tournament at Sarasota I saw him play a pitch over a tree to the green with the ball resting in a ditch covered with water. "What a guy!" Mickey Cochrane said as the ball hit the green and the Babe came out covered with mud. What a guy!—doubled and redoubled.
    • Grantland Rice, in "Babe Ruth, Idle First time In 23 Years, Blames His Legs," The Baltimore Sun (February 19, 1936), p. 14
  • Babe Ruth fills the public eye, not only because he is a great pitcher and hitter, but because the fullest use has been made of him to advertise his strength in these two departments. Babe can pitch in world's championship form and clout a home run over the fence; he can clean the bases in a pinch; and he can bring his heavy artillery into daily play by handling a first base or outfield position acceptably. In this respect, he, however, does not surpass or even equal Sisler. George is as great or a greater pitcher than Ruth. I KNOW this. He showed me his quality in major league games, too—look back at his record if you don't believe this. As a batter and all around player I leave the records to show his ability, as compared with "Babe." He batted .337 last year to Ruth's .297; he led the league in stealing bases, with 40 in an abbreviated season, distancing Cobb and the other stars. He was the fourth first baseman in fielding percentage; as an outfielder he showed wonderful promise. His great covering ability, fine throwing arm and daring would make him a star at any position, where Ruth would be merely a defensive filler-in, tolerated because of his hitting. Save for the pitching his superiority to Ruth will not be disputed by anyone; and I myself am certain that he is also Ruth's pitching master.

    Why is it that Ruth is so much more prominent than Sisler, and draws twice as much salary as the St Louisan? The answer is that Sisler has not been exploited beyond 50 per cent of his publicity value, and not more than 70 per cent of his playing efficiency.
  • He can hit a ball twice as hard as any of the oldtimers. Delahanty? Pooh, don't make me laugh! Two of his best wouldn't equal one of Ruth's long hits. It's his stance. Do you notice the way he stands at the plate and gets the full play of his body into the swing? There never was one of the oldtimers that stood that way. There is a scientific reason for it. I was reading what Grantland Rice had to say about stance. [...] And, anyhow, you can tell the world that Babe Ruth is the hardest hitter of them all. You won't have to prove it, either. The old Orioles admit it, and when the old Orioles speak from their hearts 'tis the last word in baseball.
    • Wilbert Robinson, as quoted in "In All Fairness" by W. O. McGeehan, in The New York Tribune (May 31, 1920), p. 12
  • I wonder if there are any more Ruths hanging around loose in the sticks. There might be. I always have maintained that many a good one never got the chance to crash into the big leagues. I wonder. Here was Ruth down in Baltimore growing up to be the greatest attraction in baseball right in our backyard, as it were, and busting home runs right in our very faces. Did we know it? I'll tell you the first time that Ruth was called to my attention. It was when the Robins were playing the Baltimore team. I heard that they had a hitter by the name of Ruth, and I told Casey Stengel, our right fielder, to lay back for him. Casey did lay back, but Ruth sent the ball a mile over his head. The next time Ruth came to bat Casey said: "I'll lay back so far this time that the sucker can't get the ball by me." And he did lay back till it looked ridiculous. But again came Ruth, and he shot the ball over Stengel's head for another homer. Yet in spite of this Ruth was farmed out with the minors before he got into the Red Sox line-up regularly.
    • Wilbert Robinson, as quoted in "In All Fairness"
  • 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.
    • Will Rogers, in "Will Rogers' Dispatch", The Daily Boston Globe (January 9, 1930), p. 1
      See related comments by Brian Bell, Herbert Hoover, Albert Keane and Reuters in this section, as well as Ruth's statement on January 7, 1930, in Quotes.
  • 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.
  • McGraw, in ordering his pitchers to pitch to Ruth, took into consideration the psychology of Ruth. He knew what Ruth expected. He knew that Ruth would never look for anything but bad balls, and if he could upset Ruth by pitching to him, he would beat him, and by beating Ruth went a long way toward beating the Yankees. [...] Pitching to Ruth as Nehf did under McGraw's orders told Ruth and nearly 40,000 spectators that McGraw held Ruth only in contempt. It was not alone what Nehf pitched to Ruth but also what McGraw said to the batter, that crumbled Ruth: "Lay it over for him and tell him what's coming," McGraw yelled to Nehf. "Cut the plate for him. He can't hit it." Ruth, who considered this a bit of byplay, was dumbfounded when Nehf pitched and acted according to the shouted instructions. Ruth "never got over it," as they say. Ruth made two hits in 17 times at bat and finished with an average of .118. Ruth was an utter failure in the Series. He became a failure from the first time at bat, and the Giants' pitchers showed all too plainly that Ruth can easily be handled at bat. They did not pitch him a fast ball and they kept a slow ball low on him, curving it frequently. Ruth wilted and faded.
  • He is really a great outfielder, one of the greatest. He plays batters correctly, covers a lot more ground than you'd think he'd be able to do with his bulk, and has one of the deadliest throwing arms ever known. Besides, Babe has an accurate baseball judgment and never throws to the wrong base.
    • George Sisler, in "The Greatest Players I Ever Saw," Baseball Magazine (April 1931)
  • I have been asked my opinion of great outfielders I have known. By outfielders I mean solely the ability to play the position, quite apart from batting or base running talent. I will say, without hesitation, that Babe Ruth is one of the half dozen greatest outfielders I ever saw. This is aside from his slugging ability, which is unrivaled, and his base running ability, which is much greater than is commonly supposed. Purely as an outfielder, Babe will rank among the game's greatest. He was not always so. When he first shifted from the pitching slab to the outfield, he did not seem to take his work seriously. His thoughts were mainly devoted to his batting. No doubt they still are. But for all that, Babe has become a great outfielder. He covers a lot of ground, primarily because he plays the batter correctly. He has a sure pair of hands, a wonderful throwing arm and he always knows exactly what to do with the ball when he gets it.
    • Tris Speaker, as quoted in Baseball Magazine (October 1928)
  • May the Divine Spirit that inspired Babe Ruth to overcome hardships and win the crucial game of life animate many generations of American youth to learn from the example of his struggles and successes loyally to play their positions on all American teams. May his generous-hearted soul, through the mercy of God, the final scoring of his own good deeds, and the prayers of his faithful friends, rest in everlasting peace.
    • Cardinal Spellman, as quoted in "75,000 Go to Babe Ruth's Funeral and Stand in Rain Along Fifth Ave." by Alexander Feinberg, in The New York Times (August 20, 1948), p. 1
  • Those 10,000 fans who were here Saturday ought to thank their lucky stars for being present. That's one show they'll not soon forget or will never get tired recalling.
    • Tommy Thevenow, then-Pirate third baseman, speaking the day after Ruth hit his final three big league HRs (the last one—number 714—being the first ball ever to clear Forbes Field's right field roof); as quoted in "Sidelights On Sports" by Al Abrams, in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 27, 1935), p. 16


  • I've seen some great hitters and long distance hits in my day, but none like the Babe's on Saturday. He's the greatest home run hitter of all time.
    • Honus Wagner, then-Pirate coach, speaking the day after Ruth hit his final three big league HRs (the last one—number 714—being the first ball ever to clear Forbes Field's right field roof); as quoted in "Sidelights On Sports" by Al Abrams, in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 27, 1935), p. 16
  • Did you see those balls going? They couldn't have gone any faster or further if they were shot out of a cannon.
    • Lloyd Waner, speaking the day after Ruth hit his final three big league HRs (the last one—number 714—being the first ball ever to clear Forbes Field's right field roof); as quoted in "Sidelights On Sports" by Al Abrams, in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 27, 1935), p. 16
  • Who said the old Babe can't smack 'em any more? That second homer must have traveled 450 feet and the third came close to 600 if I'm not mistaken.
    • Paul Waner then-Pirate right fielder,speaking the day after Ruth hit his final three big league HRs (the last one—number 714—being the first ball ever to clear Forbes Field's right field roof); as quoted in "Sidelights On Sports" by Al Abrams, in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 27, 1935), p. 16
  • Well, he was only two [home runs] up on me Saturday, but we won't say anything about distance.
    • Pep Young, speaking the day after Ruth hit his final three big league HRs (the last one—number 714—being the first ball ever to clear Forbes Field's right field roof); as quoted in "Sidelights On Sports" by Al Abrams, in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 27, 1935), p. 16

ReferencesEdit

  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. 
  2. https://books.google.com/books?id=cQsKAQAAMAAJ&dq=%22Yesterday%27s+home+runs%22&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=Ruth

External linksEdit