Date of birth: 6 February 1895
Primary position: Pitcher
Elected to Red Sox Hall of Fame: 1995
Elected to Red Sox Hall of Fame: 1936
There may only be a handful of people left on Earth that doesn’t know that, after the conclusion of the 1919 season, Babe Ruth was shipped from Boston to New York in one of the most famous trades ever made in the history of sports. “The Bambino” went on to become one of the most prominent and prolific figures in baseball as well as the symbol of Red Sox failure until Boston finally won a championship in 2004, nearly 85 years after he switch his allegiance.
What many people may not realize is that “The Sultan of Swat” began his career as a pitcher for the minor-league Baltimore Orioles before he was sold to Boston. During his six years with the Red Sox, in which the team won three World Series championships, Ruth developed into one of the game’s best pitchers; between 1915 and 1918, Ruth won 78 games and posted an ERA of 2.05. He also managed a streak of 29 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play, appearing in three games and posting a 3-0 record with a minuscule 0.87 ERA.
Yet, despite winning a career-high 24 games in 1917, Boston could not ignore his abilities at the plate, especially after batting .325 in 123 at-bats that same season; that number trailed only future Hall of Fame brethren Ty Cobb, George Sisler, and Tris Speaker. Besides starting 34 more games in 1918 and 1919, he began to play more in the outfield, making 59 appearances there in 1918 and 111 appearances in 1919; with that shift also came the anticipated increase in production at the plate. In his last season with Boston, he batted .322 and drove in 114 home runs while leading the American League in home runs with a then-Major League record of 29.
Fifteen years later, “The Babe” returned to Boston to play not with the Red Sox but with the cross-town National League Braves. His skills long diminished, Ruth played in just 28 games and, in his last ever game, hit three home runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field. A year later, Ruth was elected on the very first ballot to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was part of the first class of players enshrined in Cooperstown.
Career Pitching Statistics through 2017 Season
Awards and Recognition with Boston
ERA Leader, 1916
Home Run Champion, 1918
Home Run Champion, 1919
RBI Champion, 1919
Memorable Moments for Babe Ruth
- 9 July 1914 - The Red Sox purchase pitchers Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore along with catcher Ben Egan for the Baltimore Orioles of the International League.
- 11 July 1914 - Babe Ruth makes his major league debut and earns a no-decision, allowing three runs on eight hits in an eventual 4-3 win for Boston over Cleveland at Fenway Park.
- 6 May 1915 - The "Babe" hits his first major league home run in a 4-3 loss for Boston to New York at the Polo Grounds.
- 21 July 1915 - Playing in St. Louis, Babe Ruth hits a single, two doubles, and what is described as a "mammoth" home run while pitching a complete game in a 4-2 win for the Red Sox over the Browns. The home run leaves Sportsman's Park, lands on the sidewalk across the street, and shatters the window of an automobile dealership.
- 1 June 1916 - In a match-up between two of the first five players elected to baseball's Hall of Fame, Babe Ruth and the Red Sox beat Walter Johnson and the Senators, 1-0.
- 15 August 1916 - Another duel between Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson at Fenway Park ends in a 1-0 win for Boston in 13 innings. Ruth nearly ends the game in the 12th with a long drive, but Washington center fielder Clyde Milan makes the catch as he leans into the bleachers.
- 23 June 1917 - Ernie Shore takes over for Babe Ruth after the starting pitcher is ejected following an argument with the umpire over walking the first batter. After the runner was caught stealing, Shore retired the next 26 batters as Boston wins 4-0.
- 6 May 1918 - Manager Ed Barrow positions Babe Ruth at first base, the first time the pitcher had been used as a position player in a regular season game. Boston proceeds to lose 10-3 to New York. Four days later, the Babe appears in the outfield for the first time as a right fielder.
- 8 July 1918 - Though Babe Ruth ends a 10-inning affair against the Indians at Fenway Park, he is only credited with a triple due to the scoring rules of the time. Red Sox center fielder Amos Strunk had reached first base earlier in the inning and the contest ends when he crossed the plate.
- 20 May 1919 - Babe Ruth hits a grand slam against the St. Louis Browns in a game in which he also earns the win as the pitcher; he is one of only four Red Sox pitchers to have emptied the bases with a home run.
- 23 August 1919 - Babe Ruth hits his fourth grand slam of the season, a Red Sox record to this day, but Boston loses 8-4 to Detroit at Navin Field.
- 20 September 1919 - In what would be his last appearance at Fenway Park, Babe Ruth ties a single-season record for home runs with his 27th in the opener of a doubleheader, a 4-3 Red Sox victory over the White Sox.
- 27 September 1919 - Babe Ruth sets a then-major league record with his 29th round-tripper of the season in the first game of a doubleheader, but Boston loses both ends of the twin bill to Washington.
- 5 January 1920 - Harry Frazee ships Babe Ruth to the Yankees in exchange for $125,000 and a $300,000 loan, with Fenway Park used as collateral.