George Herman Ruth, Jr – Early Life
Essay title: George Herman Ruth, Jr – Early Life
George Herman Ruth, Jr. was born on February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland. His parents were Kate Schamberger-Ruth and George Herman Ruth, Sr., who tended bar and eventually owned his own tavern near the Baltimore waterfront. The Ruths had a total of eight children, but only two survived past infancy: a daughter named Mamie and a son named George, Jr.–the boy who would grow up to be an American hero.
George, Jr. did not have a happy childhood. His parents worked long hours in the tavern, leaving their son to take care of himself much of the time. Eventually, when Babe was seven years old, his father took him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory and orphanage. There he signed custody over to the Xaverian brothers, Catholic missionaries who ran the school.
During his 12 years at St. Mary’s, young George rarely saw his family. They did not come to visit on holidays or on the one Sunday per month when family could visit the boys at the school. Little George was an unruly student, infamously classified as “incorrigible.” Much of this was due the young man’s inability to adapt to the regimented and structured environment or St. Mary’s.
Estrangement from his parents led George, Jr. to find a father figure in Brother Matthias, the Prefect of Discipline at St. Mary’s school. Brother Mathias would have a very positive influence on George’s life, despite his reputation for unruliness. Brother Matthias, a very large, muscular man, became an inspiration to George in baseball as well as in other aspects of his life. The time spent with Brother Matthias not only helped hone George’s swing, but the guidance and encouragement gave him much needed support that would translate into George’s unfettering love of children in later years.
Jack’s Newest Babe
George’s talent was apparent at an early age. During his years at St. Mary’s, he continued to play a variety of positions on the school baseball teams. He played catcher most often during those years, until he started pitching around the age of 15. His pitching prowess was immediately noticeable, and he alternated at both catcher and pitcher on St. Mary’s varsity team.
When George was 19, Jack Dunn, owner and manager of the Baltimore Orioles (a Boston Red Sox minor league team at the time), recognized the young man’s talent and signed him to a contract. Jack was widely known as one of the best scouts in baseball. When the other players saw the strapping young Ruth, they referred to him as “Jack’s newest babe.” George Herman Ruth, Jr. was known as the “Babe” ever since.
After only five months with the Baltimore Orioles, The Boston Red Sox purchased Babe’s contract, and he became a Major Leaguer at the tender age of 19. He pitched and played outfield for the Red Sox for the next six years. Ruth made an immediate impact both on and off the field. Stories of his off-the-field eating and drinking escapades have become as legendary as his baseball accomplishments.