On July 11, 1914, the Great Bambino, George Herman Ruth, made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox at the young age of 19. Born February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, Babe was the son of a saloon keeper. At seven, his constant truancy from school led to his parents declaring him “incorrigible,” and he was sent to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, an orphanage in town.
Ruth lived at St. Mary’s until he was signed by the Baltimore Orioles as a pitcher, The History Channel notes. “That same summer, Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox. His teammates called him ‘Babe’ for his naiveté, but his talent was already maturing. In his debut game against the Indians, the 19-year-old Ruth gave up just five hits over the first six innings. In the seventh, the Indians managed two runs on three singles and a sacrifice and Ruth was relieved. His hitting prowess, however, was not on display that first night—he went 0 for 2 at the plate.”
Although he was taken out of the game, Joe Schuster has explained that the debut was a success for Ruth. “Dutch Leonard who was having the best year of his career (he would lead the league with a microscopic 0.96 ERA while going 19-5). He set down the last six Naps in order, striking out four, picking up his first save on the season, and giving Ruth his first major-league victory. Ruth’s final line: seven innings, eight hits, three runs (two earned), no walks, and one strikeout. Despite his faltering in the seventh and although noting that he could improve, the Globe praised him: ‘(He) proved a natural ballplayer and went through his act like a veteran of many wars. He has a natural delivery, fine control and a curve ball that bothers the batsmen.’”
The next start did not go as well, though. “Five days later, Schuster continues, “Ruth got his second start, this time against Detroit. He lasted three innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits and a walk, striking out one, and taking the loss. After he spent the next month on the bench without getting into a game, Boston sent him to the minors on August 18.”
He didn’t stay there for long. The years that followed saw The Babe become great as both a pitcher and at the plate. “When the Red Sox made the World Series in 1916 and 1918, The History Channel continued, “Ruth starred, setting a record with 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play. His career record as a pitcher for the Red Sox was 89-46.
To the great dismay of Boston fans, Ruth’s contract was sold to the New York Yankees before the 1920 season by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, so that Frazee could finance the musical No, No, Nanette.”
After what is considered one of the worst trades in sports history, Ruth would later switch to the outfield with the Yanks, where he’d hit more home runs than the entire Red Sox team in 10 of the next 12 seasons.