Jack Dunn bought and managed the Baltimore Orioles of the International League.
He had a reputation for finding and developing young talent, selling a number of players to Major League clubs, which helped continue to fund the Orioles’ growth.
In 1914, Dunn came across a teenage pitcher at a local Baltimore high school. The kid’s name was George Herman Ruth. (Joe Swide)
George Herman Ruth was born to George Ruth and Catherine Schamberger on February 6, 1895, in his mother’s parents’ house at 216 Emory Street, in Baltimore, Maryland.
With his father working long hours in his saloon and his mother often in poor health, Little George (as he was known) spent his days unsupervised on the waterfront streets and docks, committing petty theft and vandalism.
Hanging out in his father’s bar, he stole money from the till, drained the last drops from old beer glasses, and developed a taste for chewing tobacco. He was only six years old.
Shortly after his seventh birthday, the Ruths petitioned the Baltimore courts to declare Little George “incorrigible” and sent him to live at St. Mary’s Industrial School, on the outskirts of the city.
The boy’s initial stay at St. Mary’s lasted only four weeks before his parents brought him home for the first of several attempted reconciliations; his long-term residence at St. Mary’s actually began in 1904. But it was during that first stay that George met Brother Matthias.
“He taught me to read and write and he taught me the difference between right and wrong,” Ruth said of the Canadian-born priest. “He was the father I needed and the greatest man I’ve ever known.”
Brother Matthias also spent many afternoons tossing a worn-out baseball in the air and swatting it out to the boys. Little George watched, bug-eyed.
“I had never seen anything like that in my life,” he recalled. “I think I was born as a hitter the first day I ever saw him hit a baseball.” The impressionable youngster imitated Matthias’s hitting style – gripping the bat tightly down at the knobbed end, taking a big swing at the ball – as well as his way of running with quick, tiny steps.
“Sometimes I pitched. Sometimes I caught, and frequently I played the outfield and infield. It was all the same to me. All I wanted was to play. I didn’t care much where.”
In one St. Mary’s game in 1913, Ruth, then 18 years old, caught, played third base (even though he threw left-handed), and pitched, striking out six men, and collecting a double, a triple, and a home run.
That summer, he was allowed to pitch with local amateur and semipro teams on weekends. Impressed with his performances, Jack Dunn signed Ruth to his minor-league Baltimore Orioles club the following February. (Society of American Baseball Research)
Because of Ruth’s rough background, in order for him to leave the high school and sign with the Orioles, Dunn had to become his legal guardian.
When the team took their new teenaged pitcher to spring training in North Carolina, Ruth became known as “Dunn’s baby,” which was eventually shortened to just “Babe,” and so was christened the legendary Babe Ruth. (His other nicknames included, Bambino, the Home Run King and The Sultan of Swat.)
The Babe’s Orioles tenure was brief, however, as mounting crosstown competition from the Baltimore Terrapins of the upstart Federal League put the Orioles in dire financial straits, forcing Dunn to sell his prized star to the Boston Red Sox midway through the season and ultimately move the team to Richmond, Virginia. (Joe Swide)
Ruth played for the Boston Red Sox (1914-1919), the New York Yankees (1920-1934) (Yankee Stadium opened on April 18, 1923. Ruth hit the first home run there, earning it the name “The House that Ruth Built.”) and briefly the Boston Braves (1935).
Babe Ruth retired in 1935 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. He was one of the first five players to be inducted. The Yankees retired his famous number 3.
Babe Ruth visiting the islands in October 1933 for a vacation and exhibition games in Honolulu and Hilo. “Babe Ruth, the foremost champion at baseball, and the greatest batter, constantly making homeruns in a majority of the games he is in, will play in an exhibition on this coming Sunday, October 22 at the ball field of Kamoiliili”.
“The people who are into baseball are talking about this game to be played by this baseball champ in Honolulu nei. The price [kaki] for entrance to see the game has not been announced, but it is certain that the fee will be a blow [kanono], because the expense to bring this man here to Honolulu is great, and we hear that his family will be coming to Honolulu as well.” (Alakai o Hawaii, 10/19/1933, p. 4)
“The Bambino played outfield and first base, took a turn In the pitcher’s box, knocked a home run and even struck out. Ruth’s team, an aggregation of local stars, won the exhibition by a score of 5 to 2.” (The Evening Star (DC) October 23, 1933)
He apparently, enjoyed his stay … “Babe Ruth, who came to Hawaii a fort night ago for a vacation, departed today for New York, seeking a rest.”
“His legs and arms were sunburned from a fishing trip on which his catch was about of a size to fill his coat pocket. As he boarded the Lurline for San Francisco with his wife and daughter Julia, the Bambino said:”
“‘I am going straight to New York to rest. I’ll get there two weeks from to day. I am going to sleep a week.” (The Sunday Star (DC), November 5, 1933)