George Herman Ruth (6 February 1895 – 16 August 1948) was an American Major League Baseball player from 1914 to 1935, named as the greatest baseball player in history in various surveys and rankings. His career record of 714 home runs stood for 39 years until surpassed by Hank Aaron with 755 home runs in 1974.
- A man who knows he's making money for other people ought to get some of the profits he brings in. Don't make any difference if it's baseball or a bank or a vaudeville show. It's business, I tell you. There ain't no sentiment to it. Forget that stuff.
- On his demand for $52,000 a year in his 1922 contract, as quoted in The Rivals : The Boston Red Sox Vs. the New York Yankees; An Inside History (2004) by Dan Shaughnessy, p. 40
- I didn't mean to hit the umpire with the dirt, but I did mean to hit that bastard in the stands.
- On his temper flaring on 25 May 1922, when he threw dirt at an umpire and chased after a heckler in the stands, as quoted in The Rivals : The Boston Red Sox Vs. the New York Yankees; An Inside History (2004) by Dan Shaughnessy, p. 41
- After all, there's only one aswer to be made to the young fellow who is asking constantly for advice as to how to hit. The answer is: "Pick out a good one and sock it!"
- Babe Ruth's Own Book of Baseball (1928)
- What the hell has Hoover got to do with it? Besides, I had a better year than he did.
- Anecdote of his response on being asked how he felt holding out for a salary higher than that of the US President, (variously reported as having been in 1929 or 1930) as quoted in Baseball: A History of America's Game (2002) by Benjamin G. Rader, p. 134
- Unsourced variants : Hey, I had a better year than he did.
Why not, I had a better year than he did.
I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.
- Yes, he's a prick, but he sure can hit. God Almighty, that man can hit!
- About Ty Cobb, a notoriously vicious player. Quoted in The Sporting News (12 July 1950); as actually published in The Sporting News, "prick" was replaced by "[censored]" — elsewhere, including Field of Screams: The Dark Underside of America's National Pastime (1994) the quote has appeared as "Ty Cobb is a prick." or sometimes "Cobb is a prick. But he sure can hit. God Almighty, that man can hit."
- To my little sick pal. I will try to knock you another homer, maybe two today.
- His note to a young fan in the hospital, as quoted in Baseball’s Greatest Quotations (1991) by Paul Dickson; sometimes misquoted: "To my sick little pal..."
- If it wasn't for baseball, I'd be in either the penitentiary or the cemetery. I have the same violent temper my father and older brother had. Both died of injuries from street fights in Baltimore, fights begun by flare-ups of their tempers.
- As quoted in Baseball as I Have Known It (1996) by Fred Lieb, p. 154
- Keed, I'll give you a little bit of advice. Don't believe anything they write about you, good or bad. Two, get the dough while the getting is good, but don't break your heart trying to get it. And don't pick up too many checks!
- Advice to Red Grange as quoted in The Wicked City: Chicago from Kenna to Capone (1998) by Curt Johnson and R. Craig Sautter, p. 159; Unsourced variant: Don't ever forget two things I'm going to tell you. One, don't believe everything that's written about you. Two, don't pick up too many checks.
- If I'd just tried for them dinky singles I could've batted around six hundred!
- As quoted in Stolen! : A History of Base Stealing (1999) by Russell Roberts, Ch. 4 "The Babe Blasts the Steal" p. 71
- I decided to pick out the greatest hitter to watch and study, and Jackson was good enough for me.
- On Shoeless Joe Jackson, as quoted in Say It Ain't So, Joe! : The True Story of Shoeless Joe Jackson (1999) by Donald Gropman
- I swing as hard as I can, and I try to swing right through the ball. In boxing, your fist usually stops when you hit a man, but its possible to hit so hard that your fist doesn't stop. I try to follow through in the same way. The harder you grip the bat, the more you can swing it through the ball, and the farther the ball will go. I swing big, with everything I've got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.
- As quoted in Go for the Gold: Thoughts on Achieving Your Personal Best (2001) by Ariel Books
- The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.
- As quoted in Great Quotes to Inspire Great Teachers (2001) by Noah BenShea, p. 39
- I'd play for half my salary if I could hit in this dump all the time.
- Shouted to the Chicago Cubs, and speaking of Wrigley Field, as quoted in Baseball, Chicago Style: A Tale of Two Teams, One City (2001) by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass, p. 76
- Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.
- As quoted in Weird Ideas That Work : 11 1/2 practices for promoting, managing, and sustaining innovation (2001) by Robert I. Sutton, p. 95
- It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.
- As quoted in The 100 Greatest Heroes : Inspiring Profiles of One Hundred Men and Women Who Changed the World (2003) by Harry Paul Jeffers
- All ballplayers should quit when it starts to feel as if all the baselines run uphill.
- As quoted in The 100 Greatest Heroes (2003) by Harry Paul Jeffers
- I'll promise to go easier on drinking and to get to bed earlier, but not for you, fifty thousand dollars, or two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars will I give up women. They're too much fun.
- As quoted in The Business of Baseball (2003) by Albert Theodore Powers, p. 61
- I copied Jackson's style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He's the guy who made me a hitter.
- On Shoeless Joe Jackson, as quoted in Joe Jackson: A Biography (2004) by Kelly Boyer Sagert
- I only have one: whenever I hit a home run I make certain to touch all four bases.
- When asked if he had any superstitions, as quoted in The Everything Kids' Baseball Book: Today's Superstars, Great Teams, Legends — and Tips on Playing (2006) by Greg Jacobs
- Unsourced variants : Just one. Whenever I hit a home run, I make certain I touch all four bases.
I have only one superstition. I touch all the bases when I hit a home run.
Farewell Address (1947)
- Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. You know how bad my voice sounds. Well, it feels just as bad. You know this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you've been a boy, and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in our national pastime.
- The only real game — I think — in the world is baseball.
- There's been so many lovely things said about me, and I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to thank everybody. Thank you.
Quotes about Ruth
- Alphabetized by author
- He was going on my show. I introduce him and this big, garrulous guy – he can’t say a word. Mute. I read his script on air and now I’m Ruth as Babe tries to compose himself, smoking and leaning against the wall. You know something? We pull it off. I sign off and Babe hasn’t made a sound.
- I can't honestly say that I appreciate the way in which he changed baseball — from a game of science to an extension of his powerful slugging — but he was the most natural and unaffected man I ever knew. No one ever loved life more. No one ever inspired more youngsters. I have reverence for his marvelous ability . I look forward to meeting him again some day.
- Ty Cobb, in My Life In Baseball : The True Record (1961), Ch. 16 : The Babe and I, p. 222
- Words fail me. When he stood up there at the bat before 50,000 persons, calling the balls and the strikes with gestures for the benefit of the Cubs in their dugout, and then with two strikes on him, pointed out where he was going to hit the next one and hit it there, I gave up. That fellow is not human.
- Bill Corum in the New York World Journal, one of two reporters who controversially declared that Ruth had "called his shot" prior to hitting a home-run in a game against the Chicago Cubs; as quoted in Baseball, Chicago Style: A Tale of Two Teams, One City (2001) by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass, Ch. 8 "Who Called What?" p. 76
- He always threw to the right base. We say that about most outfielders. Ruth always threw to the right base. DiMaggio always threw to the right base. The others maybe did, maybe didn’t. Mays most of the time threw to the right base, but Ruth always threw to the right base.
- So we went to see Babe Ruth pitch the last game of the 1933 season. The Senators had already clinched the pennant, the Giants had clinched in the other league, so this was just a nothing game. I thought maybe he’d make an appearance, pitch an inning or two or three – he pitched a complete game. He hadn’t pitched a complete game since 1930, and then he pitched a complete game. And before that he had pitched two four-inning stints for the Yankees, so he pitched four times. So he pitched a complete game, he gave up twelve hits, it was not a great pitching performance, but the Yankees won, 7-5. He didn’t strike out a soul. Years later I saw him on Broadway. I went up to him and said, “Hi, Babe.” He said, “Hi, kid.” That’s the way he treated everybody. I said, “You know, I saw you pitch your last game at the Stadium.” This was maybe eight years later or so. I said, “How come you didn’t strike out anybody?” And he said, “I wanted those other eight guys to earn their money!” And that was Ruth.
- Arnold Hano, as quoted in "Bronx Banter Interview: Arnold Hano, Part I"
- He wasn’t a baseball player. He was a worldwide celebrity, an international star, the likes of which baseball has never seen since.
- Ernie Harwell, as quoted in The 100 Greatest Heroes (2003) by Harry Paul Jeffers, p. 226
- Some twenty years ago I stopped talking about the Babe for the simple reason that I realized that those who had never seen him didn't believe me.
- Tommy Holmes, as quoted in Strawberries in the Wintertime : The Sporting World of Red Smith (1974) by Red Smith, p. 10
- Babe's interviewer interrupted to point the hole in which Babe put himself Saturday when he pointed out the spot he intended hitting his home run and asked the Great Man if he realized how ridiculous he would have appeared if he had struck out?
"I never thought of it," said the Great Man. He simply had made up his mind to hit a home run and he did.
- Tom Meany, in the New York World Telegram in his controversial report that Ruth had "called his shot" prior to hitting a home-run; as quoted in Baseball, Chicago Style: A Tale of Two Teams, One City (2001) by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass, Ch. 8 "Who Called What?" p. 76
- F. N. Abbott, "On Your Marks", in Bird (ed.), Harry L. (1959). The Palm, vol lxxix, no. 1 (February 1959). Champaign, IL: Alpha Tau Omega. p. 17.