Get to Know: Babe Ruth The Pitcher

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Babe Ruth the Pitcher

Today, February 6th is the 123rd birthday of the one and only, George Herman “Babe” Ruth.  The iconic symbol of baseball who revolutionized the game 100 years ago.  He is the most household name in baseball history.  It would be scary if a young player doesn’t know the name.  I once gave a pitching lesson to an 11 year old who never heard of Randy Johnson!  I digress.  Everyone who knows the legend of the Babe, is aware how he was signed as a left handed pitcher and after a few years of Dominating in the show, his unheard of offensive prowess forced him to stick to swinging the bat.  The rest is legendary to say the least. On his birthday, let’s look closer at just how good Babe Ruth The Pitcher was in just a few short years, along with some cameos later on in his career.

Babe Ruth The Pitcher
His Professional Debut

Babe Ruth the pitcher

In 1914 he was signed by the then minor league franchise Baltimore Orioles of the International League.  Due to the rival Federal League, a 3rd Major League, the local Baltimore Terrapins were taking fans away from the 1st place Orioles and forced them to sell their top players. Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox on July 4, and joined the club on July 11.  The 19 year old made his big league debut that day beating the Cleveland Naps 4-3. Ruth threw 7 IP giving up 2 earned on 8 Hits, walking none, and striking out 1.

Babe Ruth the Pitcher

He lost his next start and then was eventually sent to the Providence of the International League where he helped them win the pennant.  He returned to the Red Sox after the minor league season finished and beat his future team, the Yankees on October 2.  Ruth went the distance for the 11-5 win.  Ironically, he got his first Major League hit in this contest against the Yankees.  For the season, Ruth went 2-1 in the Bigs, and 23-8 in the minors for the 1914 season.

 

 

Babe Ruth The Pitcher
Dominating Right Away

Babe Ruth the pitcher

In 1915, Ruth broke into the starting rotation by mid season and went 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA.  His efforts helped fill the holes of an injured red sox pitching staff, thus leading them to the American League Pennant.  Although, with a healthy staff, he did not appear in the World Series as pitcher that year.

Babe Ruth the pitcher

In 1916, Ruth was 23-12 and lead the American League with a 1.75 ERA, 40 Games Started and 9 Shutouts.  That season he dueled with pitching great Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators 5 times, with Ruth winning 4 of the matchups.  Including a 13 inning 1-0 shutout.  That season, the Red Sox Returned to the World Series beating the Brooklyn Robbins in 5 games.  In Game 2, Ruth beat the Brooklyn squad 2-1 pitching all 14 innings! This feat was the beginning to a historic record.

 

Ruth kept on rolling in 1917.  He was 24-13 with a 2.01 ERA.  While completing 35 of the 38 games he started. However, the Red Sox finished second in the American League to the eventual World Champion Chicago White Sox.

 

Babe Ruth The Pitcher
His Bat Was Too Good

Babe Ruth the pitcher

In 1918, Ruth’s offensive numbers continued to grow.  To an extent of gaudiness in the deadball era and he begged to play every day.  Naturally, the team sold more tickets when the Babe got to play more often.  In the World War I shortened season, Ruth only made 19 starts while going 13-7 with a 2.22 ERA.  On the other side of the ball, he batted .300 and won his 1st homerun title with a 11.  More than half of his hits for the season were for extra bases (26 doubles, 11 triples, 11 HR).  This gave him a .555 Slugging Percentage.  

The Red Sox won the AL pennant again this season and faced off against the Chicago Cubs.  Despite getting only 5 at bats in the series, the Babe shined brightest on the mound again.  Ruth shutout the Cubs 1-0 in Game 1 and pitched into the 9th in Game 4 to earn the 3-2 win.  

 

Babe Ruth The Pitcher
Making History On the Grand Stage

Babe Ruth the pitcher

As for being mentioned earlier of the beginning of a historic feat, Ruth gave up 2 runs in the 8th inning of the Game 4.  Dating back to the 1916 world Series and his 14 inning shutout, he set the World Series Record with 29.2 scoreless innings.  His record stood until 1961, when Whitey Ford surpassed the Babe.  Ironically, the same year Roger Maris broke his single season homerun record.    Ruth claimed that he was prouder of his scoreless innings feat than any of his batting records.  

In 1919, the year known most notably for the Black Sox Scandal, Ruth made only 15 starts going 9-5 with a 2.97 ERA.  His offense was exploding as his hit a then mind boggling 29 Homeruns, drove in 113 and scored 103 runs in just 130 games.  

Babe Ruth the pitcher

It was clear where the bigger commodity was for Ruth’s career.  Following the season, Ruth was sold to the Yankees and became a full time position player.  This was the building block of the long standing rivalry. Consequently, with Ruth hitting an unfathomable 54 home runs his first season in New York and 59 the next, he is often credited with saving the sport after the black eye given to the game after the White Sox threw the World Series in 1919.  

 

 

Babe Ruth The Pitcher
Not Done Yet

Babe Ruth the pitcher

The Babe wasn’t quite done with pitching completely after 1919.  In 1920, he made a start for the Yankees getting the win.  Then in 1921, he picked up 2 more wins in as many games.  After a 9 year hiatus, in 1930, he made a start and went the distance coincidentally beating the Red Sox for the win.  Lastly in 1933, the 38 year old went the distance again against the Red Sox to get the final win of his career.  As a result, he went 5-0 in 5 games with the in the Pinstripes to keep his craft preserved. 

Babe Ruth the pitcher

 

Babe Ruth The Pitcher
The Finally Tally

Babe Ruth the pitcher

Babe Ruth’s career pitching record was 94-46 2.28 ERA. 147 Games Started, 107 CG, 17 Shutouts, allowing 7.2 Hits/9.  His average Won-Loss record over 162 games is 21-10.

If it weren’t for his phenomenal hand eye coordination, superhuman reflexes and raw strength, would the Babe have been the greatest left handed pitcher of all time?  It is hard to deny that many factors point to YES!  Nonetheless, his pitching ability added to his timeless legendary status which lives on in every young ball player. Who wouldn’t want to master both sides of the chess match of pitcher vs hitter?

 

Keep Dominating!!!

 

About the Author

Brad Kirsch Slider DominationBrad Kirsch is the Owner/Creator of Slider Domination. He is a former professional pitcher who blogs about all things Pitching. Brad has also authored the AudioBook, 7 Reasons Why YOU Should Throw a Slider. If you haven’t done so already, you can Download the AudioBook Here

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