Babe Ruth: An American Icon

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George Herman "Babe" Ruth was an American icon or symbol just as Uncle Sam was; the Babe started it all. He was the best pitcher in his day and still remains the strongest slugger in the game. Ruth had power, strength, an appetite and a desire for the game that no other player would ever have. It was "Babe Ruth, a hero of prowess who had achieved greatness by the sheer extent of his extraordinary ability" that put a smile on all the youngsters faces. No matter where he was the fans would follow; the attendance was always the greatest in his presence.

After the 1919 World Series scandal by the "Black Sox", along with the problems in the National Commission, professional baseball was reorganized and a new commissioner was appointed. In 1921 the new ball, which is also the current ball, was introduced; this new ball was tightly wound which made it much easier for more home runs and created more of an active game; this also was the year which Ruth's home runs increased from twenty-nine to fifty-nine, hitting a career total of 714. With an increase in the action of the game, the media coverage increased drastically as well, including both paper coverage and radio coverage. The idea of the home run was more of a new concept and with Ruth's improvement it became a symbol of The Babe. The idea of the home run also symbolized the creation of a strong willed nation and self-confident young men, enforcing the idea that innovations and expansion would constantly be occurring.

It was believed that by watching baseball, youngsters would learn to be better people because they would begin to imitate the professionals who became their heroes. Baseball taught quick decision making skills, competitiveness, how to sacrifice for the team, as well as how to accept authority. Hugh Fullerton, a modern student of baseball at the time, spoke of his thoughts of baseball:

Baseball to my way of thinking, is the greatest single force working for Americanization. No other game appeals so much to the foreign born youngsters and nothing, not even the schools, teaches the American spirit so quickly, or inculcates the idea of sportsmanship or fair play as thoroughly.

No matter where Babe Ruth was, be it on the diamond or of the diamond, the fans respected him, forgetting his flashy ways and brash behaviour. Ruth helped socialize and bring together all Americans, sports lovers, baseball lovers and non sports lovers alike. Fans were able to participate in Sunday baseball and it grew to become a more democratic and a larger spectator sport. Because of George Herman Ruth, baseball remains the national pastime with a strong sense of competition.

There were three rulers of the baseball diamond, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx, but only Ruth had the power in his arms. George Herman Ruth was born in Baltimore in 1894, and grew up around his father's downtown Baltimore bar. He was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, but in 1914 left school to join a minor league baseball team, much to his father's dismay. Ruth started his minor league career with the Baltimore Orioles as a pitcher in the "Golden Age of Sport". With his talent and strength he was sent to the major leagues to play with the Boston Red Sox, before the end of the season, sold by Jack Dunn (owner of the International League's Baltimore Orioles) for $2,500.

At 19 years old, the young pitcher, George Herman Ruth hit his first home run at Maple Leaf Park in Toronto, and on September 5, 1914 he hit a three-run shot on Ellis Johnson of Toronto, over the fence in right field. Billy Kelly was the only Toronto player to take a hit from Ruth throughout this game. The Monday morning after this game, Toronto's Globe and Mail featured an article on Babe Ruth stating that "this youngster is not yet old enough to vote but he can heave that old pill and the Boston Americans made no mistake when they bought him from Baltimore"....
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