Friday, July 8, 2011

Babe Ruth's Major League Debut

Next Monday, July 11th, will mark the 97th anniversary of Babe Ruth's debut in the Major Leagues with the Boston Red Sox. That's right, the Red Sox—not that other franchise a few hours to the south. He was primarily a starting pitcher with Boston and, of course, he picked up the victory in that first game. Hey, he was Babe Ruth! By October, he had married a Boston waitress and was to become an important cog in three World Series championships (1915, 1916, 1918). You know the rest of the story.

July 11th continued to be a big day for the Babe in Boston. On that date in 1916, he started both games of a doubleheader —although only one-third of an inning in the opener for the insufficiently warmed-up intended starter. But then the Babe pitched a complete-game win in the nightcap. He went on to pitch nine shutouts in '16—a record for lefties that stood until some guy named Guidry replicated it in 1978. His 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the Fall Classic stood until another guy from that other franchise (Whitey Ford) shattered it in 1961.

His amazing contributions to the Red Sox justify a place of honor for the Babe on Fenway's right-field facade. He wore no number here, but a simple "BABE" would suffice. Arguably the greatest baseball player of all time started it all here. We should take note of that.

(PHOTO CREDIT: SDN-059778, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society)