There are currently 44 players in the Baseball Hall of Fame who donned the pinstripes for the New York Yankees at one point or another. But none loom larger than George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. So it’s no surprise that the New York Yankees Museum, which is located in the newest iteration of Yankee Stadium and has been around since the new building opened in 2009, contains a number of artifacts on display. Among the items visitors can view are the Sultan of Swat’s 1932 home uniform, his 1927 World Series ring and a number of bats. Given that Ruth is museum curator Brian Richards’ favorite topic to discuss, he is especially fond of the hardware the Bambino used to inflict offensive damage on his team’s opponents.
“We have about four different bats of his right now. We have the bat from the very first home run hit at Yankee Stadium—Opening Day 1923. We have the bat from his 52nd out of 59 home runs in 1921, and we have a notched bat that he used in 1927 and 1928,” Richards shared. “For a little while, every time Ruth homered, he’d go back to the dugout and take out a knife and carve a little notch in the wood around the Hillerich & Bradsby center brand to mark the number of home runs he hit with that bat. This particular bat has 11 notches on it to mark 11 home runs. We also have a 45-ounce bat from 1922, which is one of my favorite pieces. It’s a whopper.”
Babe Ruth’s prowess at the plate was legendary. Currently residing at third in lifetime home runs with 714, the Baltimore native also possesses the highest all-time slugging percentage (.690), on-base plus slugging (OPS of 1.164) and adjusted on-base plus slugging (OPS+ of 206), along with stats that land him in the Top 10 of RBIs (2,213); base on balls (2,062); total bases (5,793) and batting average (.342). And while all these records are impressive, for Richards, Ruth’s larger-than-life persona enabled him to not only transform and change baseball, but set the tone for the success of the Bronx Bombers going forward and make him the curator’s choice for top, all-time Yankee.
“Babe changed the fortunes of the Yankees. If you look at the team’s first two decades in New York, from 1903 up through 1919, there were certainly good moments, but the team didn’t have much success in terms of winning. They didn’t have any pennants. We didn’t even have our own ballpark. We were tenants of the Giants and were completely at their mercy in terms of what they wanted to charge us for rent, because we just couldn’t afford land to build our own ballpark. And Ruth came in and singlehandedly changed the team’s fortunes,” Richards pointed out. “Really, as far as setting the standard for the team and bringing the team to the level of success where they are dominant, championship-winning, home run-hitting teams, that started with Ruth. He helped bring fans in and he energized the offense. You look at his RBI totals and runs scored totals—if you dropped his performance into any team today, it would help it.”
Visit www.newyork.yankees.mlb.com to find out more about the New York Yankees Museum.