StMU Research Scholars

The Great Fall of The Great Bambino

The Babe, the Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout, the GREAT BAMBINO! Everyone has heard of these nicknames. They are the names given to the greatest baseball player to ever play the sport of baseball. He will always be remembered as the person who changed the way baseball will be seen with what he was able to do with a bat and a ball in his hands.

Ruth pitching the ball while with the Red Sox | Wikimedia

Babe Ruth was always looked upon as being a great player when he first started playing in the Major Leagues for the Red Sox. Everyone knew who he was because of his giant frame and body. He was a dual-threat player who was a pitcher and also a hitter of the longball. But, he did not always bat, since he was a pitcher.1 So, he decided that he wanted to bat a lot more. He began playing outfielder in order to be able to show off his power at the plate more. But, there was a huge controversy when the Red Sox traded Ruth to their rivals, the Yankees, where he would shine the most for the rest of his career.2

Ruth was an avid drinker and smoker throughout his entire life, even smoking during his games.3  A couple of years after his retirement, Ruth began to experience some fatigue and was starting to be unable to even swallow anything. Ruth went to the doctor to have himself checked, but, Ruth did not want to know what was causing him to become sick, so they never told him. It turned out that Ruth had developed throat cancer.

The Babe touching home plate after hitting a home run | Wikimedia

Ruth’s doctor told him that he would need to start treatment right away. Ruth began chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the same time.4 As Ruth was starting to get better, the government banned one of the drugs that was helping Ruth fight the cancer. Once the drug was banned, it became extremely hard for Ruth to get better. Instead of being able to go back to his normal routine, his condition worsened and he lost up to one-hundred pounds. A few months before his death, Ruth would make his last visit to Yankee Stadium. He had lost so much weight that the people in the stadium hardly recognized him. It would be extremely sad for someone so recognizable and also being the greatest player to ever, to end up not being recognized by the fans who once adored him.5

Babe Ruth noticeably lost weight months before his death | Pinterest

Babe Ruth died on August 16, 1948. A service for him was held at Yankee Stadium for people to come pay their last respects. It is estimated that around 77,000 people lined up to pay respects. Then, for his funeral, around 75,000 people waited outside of the church for him to be brought outside.6 Just like the quote in the movie The Sandlot, “Heroes get remembered, Legends never die.” Ruth’s legacy will always be known for the rest of human life.

  1. Bob Considine, The Babe Ruth Story (New York: Signet, 1992), 47.
  2. Bob Considine, The Babe Ruth Story (New York: Signet, 1992), 60.
  3. “Babe Ruth,” Biography 5, no. 12 (December 2001): 61.
  4. David P. Steensma, “George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr: baseball star and early participant in a cancer clinical trial,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings 83, no. 11 (Nov. 2008): 1262.
  5. Bob Considine, The Babe Ruth Story (New York: Signet, 1992), 128.
  6. Bob Considine, The Babe Ruth Story (New York: Signet, 1992), 186.

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58 Responses

  1. Reading this article made it much easier to learn about a professional baseball player you probably didn’t know much about. Babe Ruth is a baseball player who is well-known and is regarded as a legend, but aside from that, I don’t really know much about him. I learned some new, incredibly crucial things about him because of this article. Everybody is unique, and every person experiences things in their own way. We occasionally struggle with addictions that we are unable to overcome. Alcohol and smoking were issues for Babe Ruth. Most professional athletes have addictions, whether we are aware of them or not. I had no idea he was dealing with these issues. When doing things like that it can mess up how you play and the performance you have while playing, and that’s what it did for him.

  2. Interesting article; the article does an excellent job presenting the story of German ”Babe” Ruth. Before reading the article, I knew who Babe Ruth was and his contribution to the game. But I never knew about his problems with Alcohol and smoking. It is sad to see Ruth’s downfall but sadder that he was doing good before the drug got banned by the government. Nevertheless, people have recognized Ruth’s career, and his name is cemented in the history of Baseball.

  3. Its sad to see how someone like Babe Ruth who was seen as an icon in the sports world to die in the way that he did through cancer. Ive read some articles about Babe Ruth and his story but this one stood out in how short and effective it is in explaining his downfall. Its sad to read about how the government banned a drug that was essential for Ruth, perhaps he couldve beaten cancer if the drug was never banned.

  4. This article did a great job of telling Babe Ruth’s story. I’ve always known who he was, but never his backstory and his struggles with alcohol and smoking. I was never aware of the fact that he developed throat cancer, or how he passed in general. It saddened me to know that fans did not recognize him as his condition got worse. He definitely was a legend and adored by many, it’s sad he passed this way.

  5. Babe Ruth has always been considered one of the greatest to ever play the game of baseball. Reading this article makes it sound no different the dude was a power hitter and a pitcher that never happens in the league today. It is sad that such a great player had problems off the field like drinking and smoking. That can definitely lead to a career ending incident. However I’ve always been a fan of the man.

  6. I hate cancer. I know first hand what its like to see someone you love wither away due to the affects of cancer, its a painful process, watch and not being able to help as well as the not knowing how much time you have left with that person. That’s the worst part of cancer, its a waiting game with a tragic end. As said in the article, “Heroes get remembered, legends never die”.

  7. This is a beautiful tribute to Babe Ruth one of the greatest players and faces of baseball. I did not know that he had developed throat cancer and had died from that so this article was very informative for me and it’s amazing how people that influence society and are very well known to everyone in the nation can be so adored and for them to not recognize him I=just shows how severe his condition was in his last days.

  8. Since Babe Ruth is the most iconic baseball player of the early era, it is sad to see his true colors come out through his alcoholism and smoking habits. As a kid, I always looked up to his legacy, and my friends always tried to imitate his called shot. It is definitely a sadder ending to the Babe Ruth story than many remember.

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