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About the Photos

Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Bambino: 1919

Bambino: 1919

Babe Ruth in 1919. View full size. National Photo Company Collection.

 

Curse of the Bambino

Must have been just before the Curse of the Bambino, cited as a reason for the failure of the Boston Red Sox baseball team to win the World Series in the 86-year period from 1918 until 2004.

The Bambino!

The Sultan of Swat!

11 times in 13 years

In every season from 1918 to 1931, Babe Ruth hit more home runs than any other player in baseball, except for two seasons, 1922 and 1925, when he lost the homerun crown to Rogers Hornsby, who also won a Triple Crown in each of those years.

Further thoughts on the Babe

Before steroids, before "the cream" and "the clear," before the three-letter chemical enhancements that "were only for injury recovery, honest, man!" there was the Babe.

It's sometimes forgotten that George Herman Ruth, following a nominal five-month minor league career, became a major league baseball player at the age of 19. Babe was the original "natural"; he excelled at whatever position he played. Mentioned in passing is that he was a winning pitcher for the Boston Red Sox for the first six years of his career. What's sometimes forgotten is that Babe pitched a complete game for the Yankees on the last day of the 1933 season (against the Red Sox, fittingly), this as a fading, overweight, thirty-eight year old outfielder. Ruth was rightly called one of the best pitchers of his era.

But the Babe's renown will always be as a hitter. As Bill Jenkins notes in his excellent book "The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs: Recrowning Baseball's Greatest Slugger", Ruth remains "the greatest hitter who ever picked up a bat." Jenkins goes on to note that "twenty-eight years of intense research has revealed that Babe Ruth hit baseballs harder and farther than any man who ever played." Ruth's natural abilities were masked at times by his spindly legs and burgeoning weight (and large number of strikeouts), but when he emerged from the dugout for pre-game practice, "other players would stop and gaze in his direction, hoping he would take batting practice. When he did, all eyes were on him as he generated sights and sounds that never ceased to amaze his fellow professional athletes." Further, "the resounding crack of Ruth's bat against ball was like no sound produced by any other man. The sight of the ball soaring into oblivion was unlike any other vision seen on the field. If fellow pros never got tired of those events, imagine the reaction of a fan who saw Ruth just once in a lifetime."

Granted one wish to travel back in time, I'd pick almost any game in which the Babe, in his prime, knocked a ball "into oblivion."

Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

Just a thought on the Babe

Just occurred to me, that Babe Ruth has one of the most recognizable faces ever. Always easy to pick out of a crowd. And you instantly know who it is when you see a picture of him. Doubt if there are many more 20th century Americans that are so instantly recognizable.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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