On May 25, 1935, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Babe Ruth hits his 714th home run, a record for career home runs that would stand for almost 40 years. This was one of Ruth’s last games, and the last home run of his career. Ruth went four for four on the day, hitting three home runs and driving in six runs.
George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the first of eight children, but only he and a sister survived infancy. Ruth’s father was a saloon keeper on Baltimore’s waterfront, and the young George, known as “Gig” (pronounced with soft g’s) to his family, caused trouble from an early age. At seven, his truancy from school led his parents to declare him incorrigible, and he was sent to an orphanage, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Ruth lived there until he was 19 in 1914, when he was signed as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles.
That same summer, Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox. His teammates called him “Babe,” short for baby, for his naiveté, but his talent was already mature, and he was almost immediately recognized as the best pitcher on one of the great teams of the 1910s. He set a record between 1916 and 1918 with 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play, including a 14-inning game in 1916 in which he pitched every inning, giving up only a run in the first.
To the great dismay of Boston fans, Ruth was sold by the Red Sox to the New York Yankees before the 1920 season by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, so that Frazee could finance the musical No, No, Nanette. Ruth switched to the outfield with the Yankees, and hit more home runs than the entire Red Sox team in 10 of the next 12 seasons. “The Sultan of Swat” or “The Bambino,” as he was alternately known, was the greatest gate attraction in baseball through the 1920s until his retirement as a player in 1935. During his career with the New York Yankees, the team won four World Series and seven American League pennants. After getting rid of Ruth, the Red Sox did not win a World Series until 2004, an 85-year drought known to Red Sox fans as “the Curse of the Bambino.”
Ruth died of throat cancer on August 16, 1948. His record for career home runs was not broken until Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run on April 8, 1974, 39 years later.