Tuesday marked the anniversary of the death of The King. Yes, Elvis Presley did die on Aug. 16, but that was in 1977. I’m talking about the baseball king, Babe Ruth –– the “Sultan of Swat,” the “Colossus of Clout,” the “Great Bambino.”
Tuesday marked the anniversary of the death of The King.
Yes, Elvis Presley did die on Aug. 16, but that was in 1977. I’m talking about the baseball king, Babe Ruth –– the “Sultan of Swat,” the “Colossus of Clout,” the “Great Bambino.”
Even though he’s been dead for 63 years now, George Herman Ruth still stands today as this symbolic god of America’s game. If there is one player that defines baseball as far as legacy, heroism and amazement to this day, it’s none other than the man who was labeled as “incorrigible” in boyhood and grew up to become an all-American hero.
I think what makes Babe Ruth so great is his legacy. Even in death, he still lives in baseball history and in the stories of our grandfathers that continue on to younger generations.
Just about everybody has something to say about Babe Ruth. Anyone you talk to knows who “The Babe” is and has something to say about him.
Babe Ruth actually is the reason why I became so infatuated with baseball history.
I was in the second grade when John Goodman portrayed Babe Ruth in “The Babe” movie, and I can just remember being so impressed.
“Who is this man?” I thought to myself at the prime age of 8.
My dad explained to me how Babe Ruth was the greatest player there ever was, and before I knew it, I was getting books from the library and reading up on everything that had to do with baseball’s hitting king.
If it was a book on baseball, I got it. If Babe Ruth’s name so much as appeared once in the publication, I read it. I just couldn’t get enough.
Of course, the domino effect had me reading books about other players and other eras of baseball, which also made me become a huge baseball nerd, knowing just about as much as possible. But hey, baseball is like America: The history is endless and always interesting. So if it’s safe to say you can never know too much about your country, then you can never know too much about baseball.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that Babe Ruth was really a big kid. After being released from that Baltimore boys’ home at 19, he only had 34 years to live after, and he did so to the fullest extent. But he did so in interesting fashion.
Sure, he did some things that would make folks with a strong Christian and/or conservative lifestyle cringe, but he was a nice man. He realized he was popular and didn’t forget the little people along the way. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for a kid, and when it came to generosity, The Babe was at the front of the line.
Growing up, there was an older man who lived up the street from us named Joe. He was the head of the Red Caps at St. Louis’ Union Station back in the days when it was still in operation as a train station. Duties were pretty basic: help with luggage and get the attention of a cab. Pretty simple stuff.
Whenever the Yankees came into town to play the St. Louis Browns –– and most likely to play the Cardinals in Ruth’s later days as a coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers –– Joe would be there to help the Bambino with his luggage and get him a cab.
The job was fairly routine after doing it for years, but when popular baseball teams came into St. Louis, the Red Caps were sure to get a good tip, especially from the great Babe Ruth.
Just like everyone else, Babe Ruth was treated with the same friendly courtesies. The old story goes that Ruth always came into town with a different woman. She would make her way into the cab first, and as Babe slipped into the cab, he’d slip Joe $20. Doesn’t really sound like much today, but back in the days when Ruth was still playing and coaching, $20 was a ton of money.
I’m so glad I have these stories to pass along. Not only is it great to tell them, but it’s just as great to have them.
Babe Ruth’s records will be broken, and the people who got to see him play will pass on, but his legacy will live forever –– the way he played the game, the affect he has on American history and his sincere personality.
It’s been 63 long years since the world lost The Babe as a human being. But as baseball continues to be the great American game, Babe Ruth continues to live.