George Herman “Babe" Ruth is, without a doubt, the most famous, beloved and mythical baseball player of all-time. Perhaps of all athletes, ever, only Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan have been more influential and as well-known.
The guy hit his legendary 714 home runs in 22 seasons (1914-1935), drove in over 2,200 runs and had a lifetime batting average of .342. Not only that, but he was also a star pitcher in his early days, compiling a lifetime record of 94 wins and 46 losses. Okay, let's take a look at 12 facts you may not have known about “The Sultan of Swat,” the one and only Babe Ruth.
1. He started out as a left-handed catcher.
Young George Ruth started playing baseball at St. Marys Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore. He began his career as a left-handed catcher, the rarest of all position players.
Ruth, top row center, at St. Marys Industrial School for Boys.
The school only had a catcher's mitt for a right-hander, so George would catch the ball with his left hand. If a runner on base tried to steal, he'd toss the glove aside, catch the ball in the air and throw it to second base with his left hand.
2. He became a pitcher because he ridiculed another pitcher.
Young George was sitting on the bench during one game and he watched a pitcher getting slaughtered on the mound. “Well George,” said his team coach, “If you think it's so funny, why don't you try pitching yourself?"
Although the intention was probably to embarrass George, he took the mound and pitched a great game. Thereafter, he began a career as an ace pitcher.
3. He wasn't a bad baserunner.
Although not that fast, Babe did steal over 50 bases in his first four seasons with the Yankees (1929-1923). Incredibly, he stole home 10 times in his career, which is more times than the all-time base-stealing leader, Ricky Henderson.
4. One of his favorite snacks was pickled eels and chocolate ice cream.
5. He slept in the raw and hated wearing underwear.
6. He played himself in The Pride of the Yankees (1942) a film biography of his old teammate Lou Gehrig.
Gary Cooper and Babe Ruth in The Pride of the Yankees.
Babe was so excited about the role, he went on a crash diet to lose weight and look good in the movie. He lost 47 pounds in 60 days and had to be rushed to the hospital because of the sudden weight loss.
6. While filming The Pride of the Yankees, he became so excited re-creating a world series victory scene, he punched his fist through a window and cut himself.
7. He was involved in a strange "perfect" game.
On June 23, 1917, Babe was pitching a game and walked a batter on four straight pitches. Furious at what he saw as bad calls by the umpire, he got into an argument with the ump and socked him in the nose.
After Ruth was tossed from the game, Ernie Shore came in to relieve him. The baserunner Shore inherited was caught stealing second. Then Shore proceeded to retire the next 26 batters in a row.
This "shared" no-hitter was one of the oddest ever pitched.
9. He liked to cool off with a cabbage leaf on his head.
On hot days, Babe liked to put a wet cabbage leaf under his cap while he played the outfield.
10. He liked his steaks uncooked and he loved lots of eggs for breakfast.
Babe's prodigious appetite is well-documented. He liked to eat his steaks uncooked and would eat two at a time, smothering the steaks with a whole bottle of chili sauce. He once ate four steaks at one sitting. For breakfast, he would reputedly eat 18-egg omelets.
11. He still holds the record for winning the longest complete game in world series history.
In 1916, Babe, while pitching for the Red Sox, beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-1 in a 14-inning complete game victory.
12. He is the only person to ever walk out on a movie premiere of his own life story.
On June 26, 1948, Babe and his wife, Claire, attended the premiere of The Babe Ruth Story. The movie was terrible, and Babe was very sick (he was to die less than two months later) and these two facts combined to force Babe and Claire to walk out on the premiere half way through.