Babe Ruth and the Yankees came to town in September of 1934 for one last hurrah. They were to play the Senators in a doubleheader on Saturday, September 29th, followed by a Sunday afternoon game. Already having lost the American League pennant to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees would close out the 1934 season at Griffith Stadium.
George Herman Ruth was aging and starting to perform like a mortal. Coming into the first game, he was hitting .290 (his career average was .342). Nevertheless, he was still their third hitter and was sitting on 21 home runs for the year and 707 for his career.
Babe Ruth at bat against Washington
Below is the Washington Post article from the next day, summing up the day, honoring the hero’s 22-year career.
The count is three and two on the Mighty Man of Baseball.
Tonight he will be out–out of the regular line-up for one of the few times in his 22-year career, but. nevertheless, his last.
The crowd at Griffith Stadium will rise as one and cheer him, and it will be “curtains” for the Mighty Man who has made his name synonomous [sic] with the very game he so helped to build into the massive business it is today.
It is hard to write of the final game of Babe Ruth. It always is hard to write of the passing of great men.
It is safe to say the Babe will never be a has-been. He may, years and years from now, be forgotten, but a has-been, never.
This afternoon, in the final game of the season, the Babe will make his last great stand. The Yankees and the Nats will play a sort of finishing-out-the-schedule routine. There are not many who care who wins. But there are many who care whether of not the Babe will be there–and he will. In all his glory. He may not slam a home run. He may even strike out, but still they’ll cheer him.
During the afternoon a group of Washingtonians, including Clark Griffith, president of the Nats, will present Ruth with a scroll that it is hoped will go a long way toward making he Might Man remember that he will always have friends.
All the kids in town, who can, will be there. They’ll look at the Mighty Man with eyes of envy, watch his every move, and then later in the evening go home, never to forget the day as long as they live.
In every city, town and vicinity in America the kids know who Babe Ruth is, know that he can hit the longest home ru, know that he is the greatest guy in the world. And they know why, too. He is their pal, your pal, and my pal.
Oh, the article forgot to mention that the Babe loves booze, fast women, cigars and hot dogs. I digress.
Babe Ruth signing a baseball in an undated photo
Yesterday afternoon Babe Ruth hit a home run with two of his teammates on base. As he rounded third base and trotted toward home a grin spread over his face. When he touched the plate the 5,000 fans let out a whoop, and they cheered and cheered until he doffed his cap (see the box score).
Later on, in the ninth inning (see the game’s box score), the Babe connected with one of Jack Russell’s heaves. The ball went foul into the lower stands near the right field line. It hit a kid on the arm and the kid rubbed vigorously for a few moments.
Then Russell walked the Babe. Upon reaching first base Ruth signaled for pinch-runner Hoag and then started out for the kid his foul had hit. On the way the Babe called for a baseball from an umpire. He reached the stands and looked down at the kid and the kid looked up at him. He autographed the ball and gave it to the lad and also put his autograph in the boy’s book.
The kid forgot all about his sore arm. As soon as the Babe left he got up and literally ran from the stadium, probably to exhibit his new-found treasure to his chums.
The 5,000 cheered again–not the Babe this time, but his big heart.
He did not have to go out there and do that for the kid. He did not do it for showmanship, either. He’s not that kind of a man. If he were, he would not, half an hour later in his dressing room, have halted while putting on his shoes to sign a score or more cards and baseballs for the youngsters who were waiting anxiously.
That’s why he is the Might Man of Baseball.
Yes, this guy had some serious flaws, but man … he was great to his young fans. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Chipper Jones, A-Rod … you’d never see them do this. I also suspect they ate few fewer hot dogs (except, maybe Clemens). The small crowd that was on hand for the Saturday games were able to see The Bambino’s 708th career home run, and the final of his career in a Yankee uniform. The hero of baseball would wrap up his career in Washington with those final three games.
Well … sort of. He was to retire after the 1934 season, hoping to be installed as the next manager of the New York Yankees. Things didn’t really work out that way. He landed with the Boston Braves after the Yankees negotiated a trade to unload their unhappy, aging slugger. Ruth didn’t have it in him, retiring shortly into the 1935 season with a .181 average and six home runs to finish with his then-record 714 career home runs.
New York Yankees’ Babe Ruth clouts a towering home run in this undated photo