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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNAVAL EN LA HABANA, 1941

The Babe in Uniform: 1924

The Babe in Uniform: 1924

I have been "wondering" [wandering?] through the National Photo Collection at the LOC (looking for an idea for my next project) and came across this one... The Babe and General Geroge Pershing ... Also, a thought on National Photo ... I have GOT to get a hold of a Washington DC social register ... or some great source of scoiety new from the early 1900s ... my gosh ... there are interesting photos in the collection, the bulk of which really seem to be the "who's who" of that era.

Dale

Babe's uniform

You can clearly see the difference in the quality of material between an officer's uniform and an enlisted man's. The Babe's tunic looks like it was made from an old blanket. And there's an interesting set of wrinkles in the left shoulder that suggest the uniform was pulled from a pile in which it was all squished up, maybe only minutes before the picture was taken. But for a guy who probably hadn't been (and probably never did go) to basic training, he whips a pretty military lookling salute on the General.
You can call it a stunt, but this probably helped recruitment significantly. Just another reason to idolize the greatest ball player ever. And if anyone says his home run record was topped, what's the record for combined hime runs and pitching victories? Has to be the Bambino. He was, for 5 years, the best left handed pitcher in the game, and had a career won lost record of 94 wins and 46 losses, and a career ERA of 2.28. Pretty impressive stats.

The Babe

How many of the self centered millionaire professional athletes of today would even consider enlisting in the Reserves today ?Don't hold your breath.

Babe Ruth Becomes National Guardsman

NEW YORK. May 20, 1924. — Babe Ruth, star slugger of the Yankees, is a soldier now — a buck private. He joined the National Guard of New York today, enlisting with the 104th field artillery for three years. He was sworn in as he stood atop a gun carriage in Times Square. Police reserves had to be called to handle the crowds. The Babe's enlistment was in response to a National Guard membership drive.

Ruth 1924

Did I miss the date in the title, or was that added later? [Added later after I looked it up. - Dave]

Lesson here is don't speculate; cruise the info highway for real data.

Ruth had a full day if this picture was taken on the 28th since the Yankees split a double header that day with the Senators. (First in War, First in Peace, and Last in the American League.)

Anyone want to bet that Ruth's National Guard career was largely spent in publicity stunts like this?

Army Short of Uniforms to Fit Private Ruth

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1924 (Associated Press.) — Private Babe Ruth, recently acquired rookie of the New York National Guard, came to Washington today to report to his commander-in-chief, General Pershing. Anxious to appear in uniform, the Babe hustled around New York to find one big enough to fit him. He had no luck, so when the Yankees came to Washington he went to see the quartermaster-general about it. At 9 a.m. he was waiting to be outfitted from the stock extra large uniform sizes in preparation for his formal appearance at General Pershing's office.

Ruth in National Guard

Unfortunately, I can't get into the archive without a subscription, but I can get this much of a Washington Post article from 1924:

The Washington Post
May 29, 1924

Babe Ruth's batting average in artillery nomenclature is woefully weak. Recently he was recruited into a unit of the New York National Guard, and called at the State, War and Navy building yesterday afternoon to pay his respects to Gen. Pershing.

Babe Ruth and General Pershing

If it was 1924 he had already been a Yankee for 4 years. Unless the Babe was in the National Guard (which I doubt), it had to be a publicity stunt or some thing like it. The question is what part Pershing played in it.

[Babe Ruth was indeed in the National Guard. - Dave]

Pershing/Ruth photo date?

Hard to figure the date of this photo. Pershing was in France from 1917-1919 at least. Did Ruth make a trip to France? Doesn't seem likely that he would have gone between '17 and '18 seasons, he was a damn fine pitcher but not the phenom that you would have seen later. Maybe he went post 1918 season when he had set the hr record at 11. More likely though is a photograph in 1919 after Pershing returned, assuming they were still raising War Bonds there would be a reason for Ruth to be in Uniform. His record after the 1919 season was at the level that might cause you to pose this type of photo. Post 1919, Pershing was still in the Army as Chief of Staff in Washington but I can't see a reason for Ruth to be in a uniform in 1920 on wards.

Therefore I will guess that this is a 1919 photo in Washington which makes Ruth still a Red Sox.

[The date is May 28, 1924 - Dave.]

 
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