02 Jun

the babe chronicles

On this date in 1935, Babe Ruth announced his retirement at age 40. He was the game’s preeminent slugger at the time — “the Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, the King of Crash” — with 714 home runs, a record that would stand for 39 years. By weird coincidence, a collection of Mississippi natives have significant links to Ruth’s big league career. To wit: When Ruth debuted as a 19-year-old pitcher for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 11, 1914, the opposing starter was Pleasant Grove native Willie Mitchell of the Cleveland Naps. Mitchell struck out Ruth in his first at-bat, but Ruth won the game and Mitchell took the loss. After the 1919 season, his first as a full-time hitter, Ruth was famously traded by Boston to the New York Yankees, where he became the right fielder in 2020, displacing Batesville native Sammy Vick at that position. The two reportedly became fast friends, but Vick’s playing time decreased dramatically and he was traded after the season. In the 1932 World Series, when Ruth gestured and then smacked his legendary “Called Shot” home run at Wrigley Field, he was responding to abuse from the Chicago Cubs dugout, where Aberdeen native Guy Bush was among the most vocal bench jockeys. Three years later, on May 25, 1935, an aging Ruth, playing for the Boston Braves, hit the last three home runs of his career. Nos. 713 and 714, both massive clouts at Forbes Field, came against Bush, then pitching for Pittsburgh. Five days later, Ruth played his final game. At the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, in his lone at-bat in the top of the first inning, he was retired on a ground ball by Jackson native Jim Bivin, pitching in his one and only big league season. Ruth was then replaced in left field by Ludlow native Hal Lee, who would go on to bang out three hits that day. Ruth was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936.

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