Babe & Philly Phacts

Babe Ruth played his last game on Memorial Day in 1935. It was against the Phillies.

Yes, a little-known fact…Baker Bowl was the site of two significant moments in Babe’s career. Extremely difficult to believe considering “The Bambino” spent only one year in the National League during his 22 years as a major leaguer.

As a 20-year-old on the Boston Red Sox, Ruth made his first World Series appearance in Game 1, October 8, 1915, at Baker Bowl. He grounded to first base as a pinch hitter in the top of the ninth. Ruth was 18–8 as a pitcher that season, his second in the majors, but didn’t pitch in the Series against the Phillies.

Fast forward to 1935 when Ruth played his last game. Batting third in the Boston Braves lineup and playing left field, Ruth again grounded to the first baseman in the first inning of the first game. Ruth exited after that at-bat, ending a Hall of Fame career. Phillies won both games before a crowd of 18,000.

“Babe Ruth’s failure to play more than one inning was the only disappointment the crowd was forced to bear. The Big Bambino limped out to left field to start the first game, batted once and then retired to the clubhouse and pet his creaking joints,” wrote Stan Baumgartner in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Oddly, Baumgartner witnessed Ruth’s first World Series at-bat as a member of the Phillies.

Ruth’s first appearance at Baker Bowl since the 1915 Series took place the day before. “It was Babe Ruth Day — and the big fellow proved he is far from being an also ran,” Baumgartner wrote. “Ruth went to bat four times, walked twice, fanned twice and made two fine running catches of fly balls. As the game was about to start, Ruth was called to home plate and presented with a huge floral piece shaped as a baseball by his local admirers.”

Shibe Park and the Philadelphia Athletics saw a lot more of Ruth. In 347 career games against the A’s, Ruth hit 108 home runs while batting .352. At Shibe Park, a .357 average and 68 homers. He was hitless in three regular-season at-bats against the Phillies in Baker Bowl.

Before becoming baseball’s home run king, Ruth was a left-handed pitcher, 1914–2l; 1930; 1933. 94–46 record and 2.28 ERA. Against the A’s, 14–5, including 5–3 at Shibe Park.

Home Run Nuggets
#1: May 6, 1915, at the Yankees off Jack Warhop.

#400: September 2, 1927, off Rube Walberg of the A’s; at Shibe Park. It marked the first time 400 home runs had been reached . . . Walberg yielded the most (17) among 216 pitchers.

#695: June 3, 1934, off Sugar Cain; last home run in Philadelphia.

#715: Actually, last three (713–714–715) came in one game, May 25, 1935, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, five days before his last game. Final two were off Gary Bush.

Phillies outfielder Gavvy Cravath was baseball’s all-time home run leader when his playing career ended in 1920 (119). Reign was short-lived as Babe passed him the following June. Cravath’s 24 homers for the pennant-winning Phillies in 1915 was a major league single-season record until broken by Babe Ruth (29) also in 1919.

Larry Shenk offers insight into the past, present-day and future of his beloved Phillies.