A no longer vibrant, 40-year-old Babe Ruth, wearing the uniform of the Boston Braves instead of his usual Yankees attire, came to the plate at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field on May 25, 1935. His .181 batting average reflected his demise as a player–he would play in just a few more games before hanging up his spikes.
However, on that day, he somehow was rejuvenated–he blasted three home runs in the game to raise his lifetime total to 714, a total which would stand as the all-time record until 1974 when Hank Aaron eclipsed that mark. Up to that day no player had ever launched a homer so high and deep that it cleared the roof in right field, but Ruth’s final home run, one of his most dramatic, did just that. In fact, Jim O’Brien in his book Glory Years states that each of his three shots went deeper than the previous homer. The first reached the lower deck; the second one sailed into the upper deck; then came the mammoth roof-clearing belt.
For trivia lovers– his first homer that day came off Red Lucas who was yanked from the game after facing just five batters. Ruth’s other two home runs (plus a single) came at the expense of Guy Bush. Ruth departed the game in the seventh inning after his third homer, thus surrendering a shot at tying the single game record of four home runs. In all, Ruth drove in six of his team’s seven runs– his RBI total was one run driven in more than he had all season long. Despite his prodigious fireworks display, the Pirates prevailed, 11-7.
If anyone is interested in what Ruth did in his final game in the majors, let me know and I’ll dig out a story I wrote many years ago.
QUICK RUTH QUIZ (some easy, some not so easy):
- In what city was Ruth born. While he didn’t play for the team there, the ballpark in that city has a statue of him on display and the Babe Ruth Museum is a short walk from that beautiful park.
- Who was the victim of his famous Called Shot? By the way, from everything I’ve read and seen (including what is said to be the only film footage of his at bat when he supposedly predicted that he’d hit a home run) he did NOT call his shot. Bonus: in what World Series did this event (not) happen?
- T or F: Ruth once hit a home run in a ballpark in Canada.
- Within 10 points either way, what was Ruth’s lifetime batting average?
- Within two years either way, what Yankee team which featured Ruth, Gehrig, and a ton of other talented ballplayers, was known as the Murderers’ Row team?
- Within two, what was Ruth’s highest total of triples in a season?
NOTE: Click here to see footage of Ruth’s alleged Called Shot–it seems clear to me that he is pointing to the Cubs dugout and not toward the outfield. I’m told this is the only film taken of this event.
Answers: 1. Baltimore 2. Charlie Root in the 1932 World Series. 3. True, as a minor leaguer for the Providence team he hit his first home run as a professional in Toronto, many decades before that city got a big league team. That homer was, in fact, the only one he hit in the minors. 4. Ruth hit .342 for his career. 5. The 1927 Yankees, a team which swept the Pirates in the World Series. 6. Ruth banged out 16 triples one year and reached double figures in triples four times, a fact few fans realize.