Hell, better hitters than them couldn’t hit me. Why should they’ve been any different?
~Jackie Mitchell, on striking out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig
This poem by Ford Frick ends with the line, “Nothing’s simpler than that!”, which is quite fitting, as this piece is pretty straightforward. This was published in Ford Frick’s memoir, Games, Asterisks, and People: Memoirs of a lucky fan.
You step up to the platter
And you gaze with flaming hate
At the poor benighted pitcher
As you dig in at the plate.
You watch him cut his fast ball loose,
Then swing your trusty bat
And you park one in the bleachers-
Nothing’s simpler than that!
On February 27, 1935, after 15 seasons with the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth‘s career with the Bronx Bombers came to an end when he was released by the team. Ruth went on to sign with the Boston Braves as Vice President, assistant manager, and active player for $20,000 and a share in the team’s profits. That April, he drew the largest Opening Day crowd in the Braves’ history and would continue to be a major crowd attraction until he retired that June.
I won’t be happy until we have every boy in America between the ages of six and sixteen wearing a glove and swinging a bat.
Babe Ruth hit the 300th home run of his career on September 8, 1925. The knock came in the seventh inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees won that game 7-4 to complete a doubleheader sweep at Fenway Park.
Let there be joy in baseball again, like in the days when Babe Ruth chased an enemy sportswriter down the streets of Boston and ended up getting drunk with him on the waterfront and came back the next day munching on hotdogs and boomed homeruns to the glory of God.
Honestly, at one time I thought Babe Ruth was a cartoon character. I really did, I mean, I wasn’t born until 1961, and I grew up in Indiana.
Babe Ruth made his first career start on the mound on March 25, 1914 for the Boston Red Sox. The 19-year-old pitcher defeated the world champion Philadelphia Athletics, 6-2, in an exhibition game played in Wilmington, North Carolina. Prior to this game, Ruth had faced 29 batters in relief, allowing just six hits, thus earning his spot in the starting rotation.
On March 16, 1932, Babe Ruth signed a deal for $75,000, a five-thousand dollar pay cut from the previous season and 25 percent of the Yankees net receipts from exhibition games. The pay cut came in large part as a result of the Great Depression. Legend has it the Bambino signed a blank contract, with the amount filled in later by Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert.
This one truly breaks my heart. I have been a Hank Aaron fan for almost as long as I have been a baseball fan. I Had A Hammer is one of the first baseball biographies I ever picked up. When I attempted to play high school basketball one year (I was terrible at it), I was assigned jersey #44. And even though it was a different sport altogether, I still felt honored to wear the same number as the great Henry Aaron.
Henry Louis Aaron was born February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama. He played a total of 23 seasons in Major League Baseball, from 1954 through 1976. Twenty-one of those seasons he played with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and two seasons were with the Milwaukee Brewers. His 755 career home runs broke the long-standing MLB record set by Babe Ruth and stood for 33 years. Aaron also hit 24 or more home runs every year from 1955 through 1973 and is one of only two players to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least fifteen times.
Aaron’s chase after Babe Ruth’s career home run record stands as a notable period during his career, and not just because he ultimately did break the record. Aaron received thousands of letters every week during the summer of 1973; and during the 1973-1974 offseason, he received death threats and a large assortment of hate mail from people who did not want to see him break Ruth’s home run mark. Fortunately, Aaron also received mounds of of public support in response to the bigotry. As his autobiography demonstrates, Aaron handled himself with a tremendous amount of dignity throughout this period of undeserved hardship.
Hank Aaron holds the record for the most All-Star selections, with twenty-five, while sharing the record for most All-Star Games played (24) with Willie Mays and Stan Musial. He was a three-time Gold Glove winner, and in 1957, he won the NL MVP Award when the Milwaukee Braves won the World Series. Aaron also holds MLB records for the most career RBIs (2,297), extra base hits (1,477), and total bases (6,856).
After his retirement, Aaron held front office roles with the Atlanta Braves, including senior vice president. Hank Aaron was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, with an astonishing 97.8% of the vote. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.
Henry Aaron died in his sleep on January 22, 2021. Rest in peace.