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.