Today is April 27, and it is also Babe Ruth Day. Born George Herman Ruth Jr., on February 6, 1895, Babe Ruth is considered one of the greatest Major League Baseball (MLB) players in U.S. history. Known as “The Bambino” Babe Ruth’s legacy lives on and though he passed away on Aug. 16, 1948, continues to be one of the foremost legends in baseball history. Babe Ruth Day is a time when baseball fans pay homage to the player and remember his career and commemorate his passing.
— SI Vault (@si_vault) April 27, 2016
Babe Ruth Day has a long history and dates back to 1947, when Babe Ruth returned to Yankee Stadium to receive the honor. He had been diagnosed with cancer of the throat one year prior, and he would only visit Yankee Stadium one more time before his death at only 53-years-old. On April 27, 1947, speaking before thousands of fans, Babe Ruth delivered a speech that has been remembered as his farewell to baseball.
Here are the transcript and video from Babe Ruth’s April 27, 1947, speech.
“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’re a boy and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in your national pastime, the only real game — I think — in the world, baseball.
As a rule, some people think if you give them a football, or a baseball, or something like that — naturally they’re athletes right away.
But you can’t do that in baseball.
You’ve gotta start from way down [at] the bottom, when you’re six or seven years of age. You can’t wait until you’re fifteen or sixteen. You gotta let it grow up with you. And if you’re successful, and you try hard enough, you’re bound to come out on top — just like these boys have come to the top now.
There’s been so many lovely things said about me, and I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to thank everybody.
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) April 27, 2016
According to a New York Times report, there were 58,339 people in attendance on Babe Ruth Day at Yankee Stadium. The New York Times reported that gifts, believed to be checks, were given to honor Babe Ruth and that afterward, he signed autographs for players like Joe DiMaggio, Bucky Harris, and George McQuinn. This showed just how inspirational and influential Babe Ruth was to other players.
“The Yankees, for whom Ruth used to play, and the American League, handed envelopes to the Babe. It was believed that these contained checks for sizable sums. However, the donors were reluctant to discuss this. President Larry MacPhail of the Yankees said: ‘Anything about what we gave Ruth will have to come from him.’
The Babe’s comment was: ‘I have not opened or looked at a single thing I received.’
Now 53 years old, the one-time Sultan of Swat, who hit sixty homers in 1927 and a total of 714 since he broke into the majors with the Boston Red Sox as a left-handed pitcher in 1915, has been out of baseball as an active player since 1935. He retired that season after moving from the Yankees to the Boston Braves of the National League. He returned in 1938 for a brief term as a Dodger coach.”
In the following video, you can see footage from some of Babe Ruth’s most memorable baseball plays as well as scenes from his funeral while countless children looked on paying their last respects to their baseball hero.
Here, you can see stock footage as Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run.
Also below, you’ll find the HBO documentary Babe Ruth.
[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]