Myth Trivia: All-Star Games, Babe Ruth… and the KKK?

Not only was Babe Ruth's legacy highlighted by his unequaled home run hitting prowess. Early in his career, his pitching skills were just as outstanding.

Memorabilia commemorating baseball player Babe Ruth at the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Image via Wikipedia entry on Babe Ruth, CC 4.0 license)

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 12, 2017 – Baseball went from the ridiculous to the sublime in the first couple of weeks of July. That makes it seem like the ideal subject for some trivia today.

The 88th edition of baseball’s Major League All-Star game is now history with the American League winning 2-1 on a tenth inning home run by Robinson Cano.

On the very same date, 113 years ago, George Herman “Babe” Ruth made his major league debut pitching the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians. It was turning point in baseball history in many ways including arguably one of the longest and most spirited rivalries in all of sport.

Babe Ruth pitching for Boston. (Public domain image)

Ruth was born in 1895 in Baltimore. But, by the time he was seven, he was already in trouble for truancy. His family called him incorrigible, and sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys where he lived for the next twelve years.

At the age of 19, Ruth left the orphanage after signing a contract to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles. By mid-season, his contract was sold to the Red Sox, and he took the mound on July 11, 1914 to pitch his first major league game.

By the way, Ruth was given his nickname, “Babe,” by his new Boston teammates. They considered him to be just a naive kid, thanks in large part to his isolation from the streets while he was living in a Baltimore orphanage.

Not only was the Babe’s legacy later highlighted by his unequaled home run hitting prowess. Early in his career, his pitching skills were just as outstanding, a fact frequently overlooked by fans of the great “Bambino,” aka the “Sultan of Swat.”

The remarkable thing about Babe Ruth and his storied career is that his transition from pitcher to slugger would have been just as big an accomplishment today as it was then. In Ruth’s day, pitchers only batted an average of every 4th day. Today it would be more likely every 5th day, which is not add a situation for consistency by any hitter at any level. (And in the American league, pitchers don’t bat at all, replaced since 1973 by a “designated hitter.”)

During his tenure in Boston as a pitcher, the Babe won two World Series, one in 1916 and the other in 1918. During the 1918 fall classic, Ruth set a record that remains today when he pitched 29 2/3rds consecutive innings without giving up a run. He finished his career with an 89-46 record with the Red Sox. But by the time 1920 rolled around, his home became the batter’s box in Yankee Stadium rather than the mound in Fenway Park.

So prolific did Babe Ruth become as a hitter that his name has become synonymous with baseball and its history. In his first 12 seasons with the Yankees, Ruth hit more home runs by himself than the entire Red Sox line-up did in ten of those seasons.

Babe Ruth at batting practice, 2016. Photo by Frank M. Conlon, now public domain, via Wikipedia entry on Ruth.

For decades, the Babe set the standard for single season home runs (60) and career four-baggers (714). Both marks have since been broken. But despite that, very few players have ever topped more than 60 dingers in a year or hit over 600 home runs in a career.

Ruth led his pinstriped teammates to four World Series trophies, twice as many as he had in Boston. Meanwhile, during the depressing 86-year championship drought between 1918 and 2004 in Boston, Ruth’s transition from Beantown to New York and from pitcher to hitter collectively became the true-life legend known as the “Curse of the Bambino.” Babe Ruth retired in 1935 but his legend lives on today.

So much for the sublime. Now on to the ridiculous, which is a perfect example of just how ludicrous political correctness has become in this country.

On the Fourth of July, America’s birthday, apparently one woman who knows absolutely nothing about baseball became incensed while watching an Atlanta Braves game. The cause of her ire arose when fans in the bleachers began draping the letter “K” over the fence with each Braves strikeout of an opponent.

The “K” has been the symbol used by scorekeepers since the 1850s to designate a pitcher’s record during the course of a game. In fact, a forward “K” is used to denote a strikeout where the batter swings. while a backward “K” indicates he was called out “looking.”

That bit of history was lost on “Sania90” who left Donald Trump in the dust when she tweeted, “Really disappointed with this sign at the new #BravesStadium Definitely NOT ok. @Braves”

The reason behind this angry Tweet was because “Sania90” had tuned into the game just as the third strikeout went up on the second row of the bleacher fence. Sania thought she was witnessing “KKK” being brazenly displayed in the heart of the South.

The call and response TweetStorm went overwhelmingly against the naive Tweeter:

  • Jeff Donahoo: “You do realize that is the recorded number of strikeouts by the Braves pitcher, right?!”
  • Sania90: “They should figure out a different way to record it because that offensive.”
  • Jonathan Howard: “Watch enough baseball and you’ll see it in literally every MLB ballpark…”
  • Sania90: “Just because it happens everywhere doesn’t make it right.”
  • Lavender Gooms: “A strikeout has been recorded with a K since 1858. The KKK was founded in 1865. Just sayin…”
  • Sania90: “Slavery started before then. Doesn’t make it right.”

At this point Antwan V. Staley, a black man, entered the fray.

  • Antwan Staley: “I am black and this doesn’t even offend me, come on ma’am.”
  • Sania90: “You must not care about your race as much as I care about yours.”

And so we end today’s trivia with mindless political correctness run amok.

About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

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