On this day in 1915, a 20-year-old Babe Ruth embarked on his journey to becoming one of the most notorious home run hitters of all time in Upper Manhattan, New York City.
Then a member of the Boston Red Sox, Ruth was slated to make his third pitching start and fourth overall appearances of the 1915 campaign against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds. The Sox were 7-6 on the morning of that Thursday afternoon contest, while the Yankees had gotten off to a 10-5 start.
At that point in time, Ruth had yet to become a full-time player. In other words, all of his at-bats with Boston to that point had either come as a pitcher or pinch-hitter. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the wisest decision.
Anyway, Ruth got the starting nod from manager Bill Carrigan and opposed Yankees right-hander Jack Warhop on that faithful Thursday in front of 5,000 or so fans at the Polo Grounds.
Having tossed two scoreless innings to start things out, Ruth came to the plate for his first at-bat of the day against Warhop, who had also worked the first two innings without giving up a run, in the top half of the third.
Per The Boston Globe, “Ruth, who impressed the onlookers as being a hitter of the first rank, swatted a low ball into the upper tier of the right-field grandstand and trotted about the bases to slow music.”
The Babe’s first career home run gave his side an early one-run advantage in what would eventually turn out to be a 4-3 loss in 13 innings.
Ruth finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate with that one homer. Pitching wise, the left-hander’s final line looked like this:
12.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 3 Ks. In total, Ruth faced 50 hitters and presumably finished the two-hour-and-35-minute contest with a very high pitch count.
The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, the King of Crash. Whatever you want to call him, Ruth would go on to mash 713 more home runs over the course of an illustrious 22-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Boston Braves.
Exactly three years after hitting his first big league home run, Ruth made his first career start at first base and batted out of the six-hole in another game against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds, marking the first time he had appeared in a game at a position outside of pitcher or pinch-hitter.