The time Babe Ruth played chicken with a concrete wall

archives of Michael Beschloss

Library of Congress

On July 5, 1924, the Yankees found themselves in Washington’s Griffith Stadium for a doubleheader against the Senators.  In the fourth inning of game one, the Senators’ Joe Judge lined a ball just into the seats down the right-field line.  In pursuit of the line drive, Yankees right fielder Babe Ruth slammed right into the concrete wall and was knocked completely unconscious.  The New York Times described the event as follows:

The Babe ran into the pavilion parapet with the full force of his body, and dropped unconscious to the grass. Uniformed policeman ran to his assistance and kept back the crowd that seemed disposed to leave the chairs and get a close-up of the injured warrior. Several photographers happened to be on the spot and they snapped the Babe as Trainer Doc Woods ran up with the water bucket and the little black bag of first aid preparations.

At first it was thought that Ruth had been knocked out by a blow from the concrete on his chin, but it was sooon discovered that he had been knocked out by a jolt in the solar plexus. His left leg was also hurt at the hip.

In spite of the collision, once revived, Ruth refused to come out of the game.  He finished the game 3-for-3, and even went on to play the second game of the doubleheader.  According to the Washington Post:

The Bambino was knocked unconsciuos [sic] for about five minutes and badly bruised his left hip, but gamely insisted on sticking in that game and also in the second.

Talk about nerves of steel!  Any player knocked unconscious for five minutes today would be given no choice in the matter — he’d be carried off the field on a stretcher.

7 Comments on “The time Babe Ruth played chicken with a concrete wall”

  1. Bill says:

    Didn’t they write a song about that incident?….”I fought the wall and the…wall won…I fought the wall and the….wall won.”

  2. Steve Myers says:

    Hard to figure why there are more career ending concussions and injuries in general these days or maybe they get more attention so it seems like there are more?

    • I think the attention does have a lot to do with it. I also wonder if athletes were just tougher back then. Life in general was a lot less comfortable, so perhaps it was natural to expect pain with sports, unlike today when we have trainers and supplements and training facilities…

      • Steve Myers says:

        Cow manure theory states that players back in the day worked winter jobs to pay bills. They shoveled cow manure on the family farm and what not and as a result strengthened peripheral muscles.

        • That makes sense. Makes me think of Jim Braddock (Cinderella Man) and the benefits of working on the docks for his boxing.

          • Steve Myers says:

            I haven’t seen the movie, but will now. Thanks. I grew up watching Rocky run those Philly steps and punching meat hanging from hooks in his brother in laws butchery. Maybe similar training techniques 40 years apart?

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