Babe Ruth made his big league debut 100 years ago Friday. The Times’ Chris Dufresne:
It is easy now to identify the most famous name from the baseball box score dated July 11, 1914.
However, one hundred summers ago at Boston’s Fenway Park, the annotation “Ruth” was not historically significant.
The baby-faced pitcher, only months out of reform school, must have been crippled with nerves in his major league debut.
The star power that afternoon belonged to Red Sox outfielder Tris Speaker and a Cleveland Naps lineup led by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Nap Lajoie.
Ray Chapman, the Cleveland shortstop, batting sixth, was killed six years later when he was struck by a Carl Mays fastball at New York’s Polo Grounds.
The baptism of George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Boston’s rookie lefty, was efficient but ordinary. He scattered eight hits in Boston’s 4-3 triumph, helped at the end by two shutout innings from Dutch Leonard.
Cleveland left fielder Jack Graney, the first batter Ruth ever faced, singled. Ruth, in his first major league at-bat, struck out. He was later pinch-hit for (imagine that) by Duffy Lewis, a career .284 hitter.
Nothing on that day hinted at immortality, or the notion that a century later we’d still be talking about Ruth as perhaps the most iconic figure in sports history.
Twenty-one years after his debut, on May 30, 1935, a worn-out Ruth, wearing the alien clothes of the Boston Braves, struck out in his final plate appearance at Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl.
Between those monumental bookend whiffs he whipped up quite a dust storm.
Above is a clipping from a report on a 1924 exhibition game played in Orange County. The Times called the game, played at the Brea Bowl, “probably the greatest de luxe sand lot game Southern California has ever seen.”