Babe Ruth warms up before a start at the Polo Grounds in New York.
Several weeks back, WFAN’s Mike Francesca claimed that Babe Ruth did not have a pitching history with the Yankees.
Au contraire Sports Doctor, Ruth appeared in five games with the Yankees and won them all, despite a 5.52 ERA.
Babe Ruth was and still is the greatest player in baseball history — only the Bambino excelled as both an everyday player and a pitcher. Fans can recite many of his batting exploits — his 714 home runs, still third on the all-time list, 60 home runs in 1927, his two three home run games in the World Series, his called shot against the Cubs in the 1932 World Series, a .342 lifetime average. Need we go on.
Almost forgotten amongst the distractions of the Babe’s home runs and his gigantic personality is the fact that he was a tremendous left-hand pitcher, the best in the American League between 1915 and 1919, before the Red Sox made him a regular outfielder. Ruth won 23 games for a championship Boston team in 1916 and another 24 in 1917. He threw a record 29 2/3 successive scoreless innings in World Series play, a record finally eclipsed by Yankee southpaw Whitey Ford in 1961.
The Babe was a regular in the Red Sox rotation for four years. In 1919 he fashioned a 9-5 record, but became a full-time outfielder that year and led the American League with 29 home runs and 114 RBIs. The following year he was sold to the Yankees.
Ruth wound up his career with a 94-46 record, 17 shutouts and 2.28 ERA. Ironically enough, the man noted for home runs surrendered a grand total of just 10 in 163 appearances.
Oh, back to those Yankee wins. Ruth won his first game for the Yanks in 1920, his first year with the team. And 13 years later he won his final game to extend his New York record to 5-0.
Five for The Babe
Here’s a look at those five Yankee Ruthian victories:
June 1, 1920: Facing the Washington Senators at the Polo Grounds, Ruth left with a 12-2 lead after failing to retire a batter in the fifth. Ruth was relieved by Hank Thormahlen, but got the win, according to the rules of the day, as the Yankees won 14-7.
June 13, 1921: Ruth started and pitched five innings, giving up four runs in a 13-8 Yankee win. The Bambino also homered twice in three at bats and knocked in three runs to help his own cause.
October 1, 1921: Later that year, again at the Polo Grounds, Ruth came on in relief in the eighth inning with the Yankees leading the Philadelphia Athletics 6-0. Babe immediately allowed the A’s tie the score with six runs, then pitched three scoreless innings and earned the victory when the Yanks scored in the 11th inning to win 7-6. Although he didn’t hit any homers, Ruth did steal his 16th base of the season.
September 28, 1930: Nearly nine years later, Ruth, now 35, started against the Red Sox at Boston’s Braves Field on the final day of the season. And the Bambino pitched a complete game, allowing three runs on 11 hits in the Yankees 9-3 win.
October 1, 1933: Staked to a 6-0 lead in his last major league start, this one at Yankee Stadium in the final game of the year, Ruth went the distance and held on for a 6-5 win against the Red Sox. The Sultan of Swat also battled a solo home run in his final mound appearance.