Baseball Legend and American Sports Icon
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up”– Babe Ruth
Thesis: During the difficult times of the 1920’s and 1930’s , Babe Ruth was garnished with many super bionic nicknames such as “The Colossus of Clout”, “The Great Bambino” and “The Sultan of Swat”. He was given these nicknames because to Americans he was the leader and godly figure that could lead them from poverty to prosperity .All good leaders pull from a variety of inspirational sources to create their formula for success, even from unlikely sources like an overweight baseball legend. Babe Ruth was a winner in his day without steroids and without the paparazzi and while he wasn’t a business leader, he hustled every day to be the best. Despite passing over 60 years ago, Babe still remains the greatest figure in major league baseball,. and one of the true icons in American history. The Babe helped save baseball from the ugly Black Sox Scandal, which at the time corrupted baseball and risked the depletion of the sport. Babe Ruth gave hope to millions during The Great Depression and provided Americans with a heroic figure to look upon. He impacted the game in a way never seen before, or since. He continues to be the benchmark by which all other players are measured. Despite last playing nearly 75 years ago, Babe is still widely considered the greatest player in Major League Baseball history.
Babe Ruth’s Early Life
Babe Ruth was born George Herman Ruth Jr. on February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland. George Jr. was one of eight children born and one of only two that survived infancy. Ruth was raised in a poor waterfront neighborhood in Baltimore, where his parents, Kate Schamberger-Ruth and George Herman Ruth Sr., owned a tavern. George Jr.’s parents worked long hours, leaving little time to watch over him and his sister. The lack of parental guidance allowed George Jr. behavior to become out of hand, often skipping school and causing trouble in the neighborhood. At the age of 7, Ruth became too much of a hassle for his busy parents to have to worry about. Routinely caught wandering the dockyards, drinking, chewing tobacco and taunting local police officers, his parents finally decided he needed more discipline than they could give him. Ruth’s family sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a school run by Catholic monks from an order of the Xaverian Brothers. This Catholic orphanage became Ruth’s home for the next 12 years of his life. A particular monk, named Brother Mathias, was specifically important in young Ruth’s life. Brother Mathias took an instant liking to George Jr. and became a positive role model and father-like figure to George Jr. while at St. Mary’s. The school provided a strict and regimented environment that helped shape George Jr.’s future. Not only did George Jr. learn vocational skills, but he developed a passion and love for the game of baseball. Brother Matthias also happened to help George Jr. refine his baseball skills, working tirelessly with him on hitting, fielding and his pitching skills. George Jr. became so good at baseball that the Brothers invited Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, to come watch George Jr. play. It was his pitching that initially caught the attention of Jack Dunn, the owner of the minor league Baltimore Orioles. At the time, the Orioles groomed players for the major league team known as the Boston Red Sox, and Dunn saw promise in Ruth’s athletic performance. At Only 19, the law at the time stated that Ruth had to have a legal guardian sign his baseball contract in order for him to play professionally. As a result, Dunn became Ruth’s legal guardian, leading teammates to jokingly call Ruth “Dunn’s new babe.” The joke stuck, and that is how George Herman Ruth Jr, quickly earned the nickname “Babe” Ruth.
The Curse of The Great Bambino
With its titles and “the Babe,” Boston was clearly the class act of the major leagues. All that would change in 1919, however, with a single stroke of a pen. Faced with financial hardships, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee needed cash to pay off his debts he owed. He found help in the New York Yankees, which agreed in December of 1919 to buy the rights to Ruth for the then-impressive sum of $100,000.The deal came to shape both franchises in unprecedented ways. For Boston, Ruth’s departure spelled the end of the team’s winning streak. It wouldn’t be until 2004 that the club would win another World Series, a championship drought that later sports writers called “The Curse of the Bambino.”For the New York Yankees, it was a different matter. With Ruth leading the way, New York turned into a dominant force, winning four World Series titles over the next 15 seasons. Ruth, who became a full-time outfielder, was at the heart of all the success, unleashing a level of power that had never been seen before in the game.
“I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” –Babe Ruth
Changed Baseball forever
Baseball used to be played very conservatively. It was a game of chess, who would make the first mistake. This “i risk-averse style” characterized baseball for decades. This “small ball” counted on a succession of intricate moves—bunts, base-stealing and so on—that could over the course of the game supply victory.The source of change was Babe Ruth. He Redefined his success into this tradition, Ruth injected a brash new style. His innovation was the home run. The lightning strike. The ability to suddenly turn the game, to topple in one swing what the opposition had cautiously and methodically built over several innings.He was the original disruptive force.Others had hit home runs before him, but not with much frequency and rarely with even a trace of glory. The home run was seen as a mistake, a freak accident. It was even seen as a failure of sorts, since the “perfect” hit would be a line drive.Statistician Henry Chadwick, who invented the box score and batting average and other stats, argued decades before Ruth that the home run represented an infringement of the game, one that needed to be discouraged.All this changed after the [first world] war, after Ruth’s breakthrough in 1919. It was not a gradual evolution, but sudden. By the time Ruth stepped away from the game in 1935, his 714 had home runs had redefined the national pastime.
With his reputation as the King of Home Runs came the title of the King of Strikeouts. Alongside his 714 career home runs stood a legacy of 1,330 strikeouts, a number that baseball finds at that time would find appalling. He held the strikeout record and it would stand for almost three decades, until Mickey Mantle exceeded it. Since then, it has been exceeded … usually by Hall of Fame legends, not by anyone who could be considered a failure. In other words, it’s quite literally true that the batters who fail the most spectacularly also tend to be among the most spectacular successes.This isn’t because baseball players are getting worse. It’s because Ruth gave those who came after him permission to fail in bigger ways than before …and to succeed in bigger ways than before.
- Seven time world series champion-
- MVP Award winner-1923
- Inducted into the first ever Hall of Fame induction year in 1936
- 2x All Star (1933,1934)
- 7x World Series Champion (1915,1916,1918,1923,1927,1928,1932)
- 1923 Al MVP
- 12× Al Home Run Champion (1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931)
- 6× Al RBI Champion (1919, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1926, 1928)
- Al Batting Champion (1924)
1. Didn’t let distractions effect him
If there’s one thing that’s clear it’s Babe Ruth’s ability to tune out whatever distractions were around him so that he could concentrate on doing his part to help his team succeed in winning the game. He had to worry about heckling crowds who would yell racial slurs and different provocative names directed towards him.In spite of all that was going on around him and most likely within him, he never lost sight of what he needed to focus on in that moment; of what really mattered and what required his attention.
Babe had the ability to connect with the American people. It was said when he smiled he lit up a nation. His humble personality rubbed off on to the public and his charisma gave Americans hope. Kids loved him too. He loved kids and did a great amount of charity work. This broadened his fan base even more. The way he was able to relate to an everyday American and how he suddenly rose to stardom caused a strong wave of hope across America. This caused his persona to be elevated to the maximum level.
3. Emotional Intelligence
Babe used the skill of Emotional Intelligence to apply to the emotions he expressed to his teammates. He had the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions. He was known for his ability to be very calm during game situations and controlling his emotions. But when he could sense that his teammates needed someone to step up and say something bold he would take that role.
Since he was larger than life his personal life wasn’t all that private and he didn’t mind it either. Flamboyant, lavish and larger than life, he was a “legend in his own time” but seen as sometimes unpredictable because he thrived from attention. He wanted to become a manager and coach a team when he retired. His lifestyle choices affected his chances of becoming a MLB Manager and the owners of the different organizations thought it would be to risky for him to become a manager.
Question: Without Babe Ruth’s leadership and persona do you think professional baseball or even professional sports would be what they are today?
About the Author
Ricky Balles was born in Johnson City, NY on April 1st,1996. He is 18 years old and currently a freshman at Wagner College. He plays on the football team and enjoys spending time with his friends and family. He is currently undecided but hopes to decide on a major soon. He admires the way Babe Ruth took on a heroic rule during the great depression and the way he can deflect distractions. He is glad he got to research a great leader like babe Ruth and thinks he can benefit from the knowledge he obtained from making this blog.
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