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On This Date in Sports August 17, 1948

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Babe Ruth lies in state at Yankee Stadium. The slugger who helped turn the New York Yankees become the most famous team in baseball while setting new home run records died on August 16th at the age of 53 after a long battle with cancer. Over 100,000 fans would file past the Babe’s open casket to say goodbye over a two-day period at the “House Babe Ruth Built”.

There was no bigger name in baseball than Babe Ruth. The man born George Herman Ruth on February 6, 1895, in Baltimore. Ruth had troubled live and was sent to live at the St. Mary’s Reform School. There he played baseball and caught the attention of scouts in baseball. At the age of 19, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. A few months later he was sold to the Boston Red Sox.

Upon arriving in the majors, Babe Ruth established himself as one of the top pitchers in the American League, helping Boston win three World Series in four seasons as he set a record of 29 and two thirds consecutive scoreless innings in the Fall Classic. Eventually, Babe Ruth began to make people take notice of his bat, as he became the top home run hitter in baseball. This led to him becoming an outfielder.

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Prior to the 1920 season, Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees, as Red Sox Owner Harry Frazee who was looking to finance a Broadway Play. With the Yankees, the Babe became the biggest sports star in the world, as he established new home run records, highlighted by his 60 home runs in 1927. After his first three years with the Yankees, the team was able to move out of the Polo Grounds into a stadium of their own, that soon became the envy of baseball.

As he collected more home runs, The Bambino earned the name the “Sultan of Swat”. Even in his ladder years, Babe Ruth was bigger than life, as h called his shot in the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. A year later, Ruth hit the first Home Run in the history of the All-Star Game. Shortly after hitting his 700th career home run, Ruth was released by the Yankees, as he approached the age of 40 and no longer was able to run around the bases.

Babe Ruth had wanted a shot at managing the Yankees, but only received an offer to manage the Yankees top farm team, the Newark Bears. Instead of retiring, Babe Ruth signed with the Boston Braves as a player-coach and has one more great day, hitting three home runs in a game on May 25, 1935, against the Pittsburgh Pirates before retiring five days later. Ruth never got a chance to manage and only briefly returned to the game as a coach with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938.

In his final years, Babe Ruth was the game’s ultimate ambassador, as fans who grew up watching him still looked at him in awe, while children watched star struck at a man who was living legend. After his illness, the Babe made several final appearances at Yankee Stadium, and around the game of baseball. Despite receiving several experimental treatments, the Babe was unable to beat cancer and died on August 16, 1948, as fans stood vigil outside his hospital hoping for some better news. After lying in state at Yankee Stadium, Babe Ruth’s funeral was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York with 6,000 gathered in the church and 75,000 fans lined up outside in a heavy rainstorm. After the mass another 100,000 fans lined the funeral route from Manhattan to Westchester County, where Babe Ruth was laid to rest at Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.

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