"The Bambino" and the "Sultan of Swat", George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. (February 6, 1895 August 16, 1948) is widely acknowledged as the greatest Major League Baseball player of all time. It was not only that he set almost every batting record; it was how he set them. For example, at the time of his retirement, his 714 home runs was twice the total of the hitter in second place. Further, not only did he hit for power, he hit for average as well; his .342 is #10 all-time, and he is one of only two players (the other being Ted Williams) to have both 500+ home runs and at least a .333 batting averagenote — this despite spending the first five years of his career as a pitcher.
Off the field, however, he was also known for his forays into radio and film, in most cases appearing As Himself. While hardly the most prolific actor, his baseball reputation did carry over to much of his other work.
Due to a combination of cancer and his habitually poor lifestyle (with lots of drinking and eating), he passed away in 1948 at the age of 53.
Works Babe Ruth appeared in:
- The Babe, a 1992 film starring John Goodman that takes a very Warts and All approach to him.
- Babe Comes Home, a silent baseball film.
- Headin' Home, a heavily fictionalized biopic of the man himself.
- The Pride of the Yankees
- Several film shorts, most of them silent.
- The Adventures of Babe Ruth, a fifteen minute radio show that aired three times a week from April to July of 1934.
- Baseball Quiz, an on-again, off-again radio show that ran in 1943-1944.
- Here's Babe Ruth, a show similar to Adventures that aired from April to July in 1947.
- On Lux Radio Theatre, he appeared As Himself during their "Alibi Ike" show.
Tropes associated with Babe Ruth in fiction:
- The Ace: Was far and away the best batter in baseball for most of his career, and held records that weren't broken until 30 or 40 years later. Generally when referred to in a work, it's in a list of "the best at whatever they do." And that's not even getting into his pitching.
- Acrofatic: The guy was very stocky for a sport that was filled at the time with thin, wiry men. It wasn't until late in his Yankee career that he became obese. Fictional works tend to play up his size while still emphasizing his skill and ability, resulting in this trope.
- Autobiographical Role: Playing himself in The Pride of the Yankees.
- Big Eater: Reportedly during the break between games of a 1925 double-header, Ruth was reputed to have eaten 12 hot dogs and downed 8 bottles of soda. The meal ended with him suffering indigestion so bad he had to go to the hospital, missing the second game. Other reports talk of prodigious consumption of food and beer before games, making it likely that Ruth set his longstanding records while on performance degrading substances! His first roommate with the Yankees, Ping Bodie, himself quite the trencherman, declined to even compete with him at eating, saying, "Anyone who eats three pounds of steak and a bottle of chili sauce as a starter has got me beat."
- Calling Your Shots: Ruth allegedly did this during the 1932 World Series, pointing to center field before smacking a home run over that part of the fence. The media built it up as Ruth "calling his shot", while others think he was pointing to Cubs pitcher Charlie Root or to the Cubs bench (who'd been heckling him all game); it's been a subject of debate for decades since.note Regardless of his intentions, it's constantly referenced to in fiction and media.
- Drunken Master: Some depictions of him play up his drinking and show him as always drunk or even performing better when sauced.
- Friend to All Children: He was well known to donate a lot of his free time to children at schools, hospitals, and orphanages, and donated a good amount of money to the orphanage he grew up in. His publicity ran with this.
- I Shall Taunt You: After hitting the Called Shot home run, Ruth then proceed to rub it in, waving and gesturing towards the Cubs dugout.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Rarely is he referred to by his real name, George.
- Red Baron: "The Bambino", "The Sultan of Swat", "The King of Crash".