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May 2015

Visit https://www.census.gov/history every month for the latest Census History Home Page!

U.S. Census Bureau History: Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth
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Although Babe Ruth may be best known as a
"slugger" for the New York Yankees, his baseball
career began in 1914 as a pitcher for the
Baltimore Orioles (then a minor league team)
and the Boston Red Sox.

May 6 is the anniversary of baseball legend Babe Ruth's first Major League homerun. The 20-year old Ruth, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, hit his first "dinger" against New York Yankees pitcher Jack Warhop at the Polo Grounds in 1915. Despite Ruth's first "round tripper" and a .833 slugging percentage for the game, the Red Sox lost 4 to 3 in 13 innings.

During a Major League Baseball that spanned from July 11, 1914, to May 30, 1935, Babe Ruth hit the "long ball" 714 times. The 60 "taters" he hit during the 1927 season would not be beaten until Roger Maris hit his 61st "four-bagger" on October 1, 1961. Even today, only two players—Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron—have more career "moon shots."

  • Babe Ruth is most often associated with three Major League cities—Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; and New York, NY. Ruth was born in Baltimore on February 6, 1895, and signed his first baseball contract to play for the then minor-league Baltimore Orioles in 1914. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in July 1914, playing with the team through the 1919 season. On December 26, 1919, his contract was sold to the New York Yankees with whom he played through 1934. Traded on February 26, 1935, Ruth ended his career with the Boston Braves on June 2, 1935.
  • At the start of Ruth's career in 1914, 8 of the nation's 10 largest cities were represented by at least one Major League Baseball team. In 2010, 9 of the 10 largest cities were home to Major League teams, and the 10th city—San Jose, CA—is home to the San Jose Giants, a minor league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
  • One of the greatest legends surrounding Babe Ruth is his "called shot" during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. Some argue that Ruth was taunting players on the Chicago Cubs bench or pitcher Charlie Root. Others observers insisted that he pointed toward Wrigley Field's center field fence. The "called shot" will likely be forever debated, but it is a fact that Ruth hit Root's third pitch out of the park. The Yankees went on to win the game 7-5, and the 1932 World Series after beating the Cubs in Game 4 the following day.
  • Babe Ruth anchored the 1927 New York Yankees' "Murderers' Row," so called because of the devastating statistics posted by the first six hitters in the team's line up—Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri. The Yankees would sweep the Pittsburg Pirates in the 1927 World Series, ending the season with a record of 110-44. Although more games have been added to the baseball, only four teams have won more regular season games—the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners with 116; the 1998 Yankees with 114; and the 1954 Cleveland Indians with 111.
  • Babe Ruth ended his baseball career in 1935 playing for the Boston Braves. The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee, WI, in 1953, and Atlanta, GA, in 1966. In addition to Ruth, many baseball All-Stars have worn the Braves uniform, including: Hank Aaron, Rogers Hornsby, Phil Niekro, Warren Spahn, Casey Stengel, and Cy Young.
  • Babe Ruth's lifetime statistics included 714 home runs, 2,873 hits, 506 doubles, 2,174 runs, 2,213 RBI, a .342 batting average, a .474 on-base percentage, and a .690 slugging percentage. In 1936, Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson became the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, NY.

Babe Ruth and Red Sox team mates

Babe Ruth hit his first Major League homerun on May 6, 1915, while playing as a pitcher
for the Boston Red Sox. In this photo, taken between 1915 and 1917, Ruth (far left) sits in
front of the dugout with teammates (from left to right), Ernest G. "Ernie" Shore, George
"Rube" Foster
, and Dellos "Del" Gainer.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

This Month in Census History

On May 28, 1955, the population clock reached 165 million. At that time, California was witnessing remarkable growth—its population grew from 10,586,223 in 1950 to 15,717,204 in 1960. By the 1970 Census, it surpassed New York as the nation's most populous counting 19,971,069. California's growth encouraged the owners of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants to move their teams to the state in 1958. Today, California is home to five major league teams (in Anaheim, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco) and more than a dozen minor league affiliates.

Vice President Bush throws first pitch
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First Pitch

In 2015, the Rawlings factory in Costa Rica produced approximately 2.4 million official major league baseballs annually. Major League Baseball Rule 3.01c requires that the white cowhide baseball be rubbed with mud before each game. This mud has come from a single secret location near Palmyra, NJ, for more than 40 years.

Today, most sports equipment is produced outside the United States. Notable exceptions include the official ball used by the National Football League, manufactured at Wilson's Ada, OH, factory since 1955, and the "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat produced in Louisville, KY, since the 1890s.

Although Rawlings baseballs are currently manufactured in Costa Rica, the ball used for Vice President George Bush's first pitch at the Houston Astros game on August 28, 1988, was produced in Haiti. Rawlings moved production of baseballs from Licking, MO, to Puerto Rico in 1964, and to Haiti in 1969. Rawlings' Costa Rica facility has produced all major league baseballs since 1990.

Photo courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum


Babe Ruth signs an autograph
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Did You Know?

Major league baseball attendance was approximately 4,558,000 when Babe Ruth began his professional baseball career in 1914, and had risen to 10,129,000 by the time of his death in 1948. According to the 2012 Statistical Abstract of the United States, major league baseball attendance had grown to 74,499,000 in 2010.

Even after retiring from baseball in 1935, Babe Ruth drew crowds of admirers. During the July 7, 1937, Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC, Ruth obliged autograph-seekers eager to bring home a memento of their having met the legendary "Sultan of Swat."

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Visit https://www.census.gov/history every month for the latest Census History Home Page!

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: May 23, 2022