George Herman Ruth, Jr. was born in Baltimore on February 6, 1895. He was the son of German immigrants who worked long hours and had little time for child rearing. When he was seven years old they sent him to the St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reform school and orphanage, and signed custody over to the Catholic missionaries who ran the school. Ruth spent the next twelve years at that school, rarely visited by his family.
It was at the school that he learned to play baseball. Brother Mathias took young Ruth under his wing and taught him the game, coaching him in fielding, batting and even pitching. It is to be noted that while Ruth wrote with his right hand, he batted and threw left handed.
In 1914 Jack Dunn, of the Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league team, discovered Ruth and signed him to a contract. Because Ruth was only 19 at the time, Dunn had to have custody of Ruth so he could enter into the contract. The other players called him "Jack's newest babe" and that nickname stuck with him for the rest of his life.
Ruth eventually landed with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher with a winning record. He eventually moved to the outfield position and first base in order to be able to bat every day. In 1919 he was sold to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox were said to have been cursed by the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, "The Curse of the Bambino" that was not lifted until they finally won the World Series in 2004.
Babe Ruth became the first American sports celebrity and is credited with the great rise of the popularity of baseball in the 1920's. He was well known for his charity off the field but also his reckless and hedonistic behavior. Ruth set several baseball records, including the home run record of 714 which was long considered unbreakable. He is still regarded by most as the best player ever.
Babe Ruth died of cancer on August 16, 1948. His body lied in state at Yankee Stadium as the entire country mourned the loss. His boyhood home on Emory Street in Baltimore is now the Babe Ruth Museum and is located quite close to Camden Yards.