The Babe’s 1935 Goodbye, Game By Game

Babe Ruth Boston Braves 1935

Babe Ruth
Boston Braves
1935

We gave into something we’ve always wanted to do in the last 24 hours, and, at age 79, that’s quite a different bird to hatch than the kinds of mind-floaters that once sailed into appetite harbor when we were 29. Accomplishments, risks with the laws of gravity, other battles with nature, and the acquisition of  rare and hard to find automobiles no longer hold the kinds of attraction here they once did, even though a certain 1951 Oldsmobile named “Oscar” still demands some balanced focus from the part of me that connects emotional investment with physical attachment.

That being said, this particular “want-to-do” had to do with an even deeper part of my love for baseball – and, specifically, for Babe Ruth, the greatest hero investment I ever made as a kid.

Until I started fiddling around the other day in research for the column I then wrote about The Babe’s missed opportunity for retirement in the brightest spotlight ever – after the three-homer game at Forbes Field on May 25, 1935, I basically had stayed away from any previous close look at the Babe’s declining production in his fated last season for the first early games of the 1935 season.

I didn’t want to look at Babe Ruth in 1935 than I ever wanted to again see that clip of an aging Willie Mays dropping a can of corn in center field for the New York Mets. Are you with me on that?

This time I went through the box scores of each game that transpired during Ruth’s short stay with the Boston Braves at age 40 in 1935. Now I’m glad I did. This fairly total collapse was made possible by a combination of some pretty ugly traits we find in human nature, both within The Babe, and within the people who used him as a gate-booster.

Babe Ruth’s Game By Game 1935 Season

G# 1935 Pos W> = BOS W AB R H RBI 2BH 3BH HR BA
1 4/16 LF W>NY 4-2 4 2 2 3 0 0 1 .500
2/DH I 4/19 LF L> BRK 2-4 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 .571
3/DH 2 4/19 LF L>BRK 2-4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .364
4 4/20 LF W>BRK 7-1 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 .385
5 4/21 LF L>BRK 1-8 2 1 1 1 0 0 1 .400
6 4/23 RF L>@NY 5-6 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 .333
7 4/24 PH L>@NY 1-3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .316
8 4/25 DNP L>@NY 1-2 .316
9 4/26 DNP L>@BRK 4-5 .316
10 4/27 LF W>@BRK 4-2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .273
11 4/28 LF L>@BRK 3-5 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .240
12 4/29 LF W>PHI 7-5 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 .240
13 5/04 LF L>SL 0-3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .222
14 5/05 LF L>SL 0-7 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .207
15 5/06 DNP L>PGH 6-8 .207
16 5/08 DNP W>PGH 12-3 .207
17 5/09 LF L>CHI 1-5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .194
18 5/10 LF L> CHI 7-14 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 .182
19 5/12 LF L> CHI 1-4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .156
20 5/13 DNP L> CIN 1-3 .156
21 5/17 LF W>@SL 7-1 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 .180
22 5/18 LF L>@SL 2-6 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .171
23 5/19 LF L>@SL 3-7 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .156
24 5/20 LF L>@CHI 0-5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .149
25 5/21 LF W>@CHI 4-1 4 1 1 1 0 0 1 .157
26 5/23 RF L@PGH 1-7 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .146
27 5/24 RF L@PGH 6-7 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 .153
28 5/25 RF L>@PGH 11-7 4 3 4 6 0 0 3 .206
29 5/26 LF L>@CIN 3-6 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .194
30 5/27 PH L>@CIN 5-9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .194
31 5/28 LF L>@CIN 4-13 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .188
32 5/29 LF W>@PHI 8-6 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 .183
33 5/30 LF L>@PHI 6-11 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .181
TOTALS > 72 13 13 12 0 0 6 .181

40-year old Babe Ruth played in parts of 28 games during his 1935 run of 33 contests. He never played a full game. He was overweight, with dead legs, lost flexibility, and slowed risk action at the plate. In spite of an opening day home run off Carl Hubbell of the Giants in the Braves home opener – and an adrenaline aided 4-hit total for his first two hit games, Ruth quickly slipped into his much more common “O FOR WHATEVER” pattern and the practice of his removal from the lineup by substitution, both late and sometimes early in the game.

The obvious facts that explain why Babe Ruth played at all in 1935 are repulsive to fans like me: (1) The terrible Braves club used Babe to boost a gate that gave fans a chance to “rubber neck” the train wreck remnants of his once powerful ability. Only the fans in Pittsburgh on May 25th got to witness a Phoenician return of all the great man used to be. And we suppose those fans who got to see Ruth in his other three single homer games got some lesser taste of yesterday as well. (2) Babe was holding on to the hope that his short-time career as a player would lead him to the manager’s job he always hoped would happen, based upon his pre-signing discussions with the Braves. That was never going to happen. And by the time of his immortal 3-HR game in Pittsburgh, our guess is that The Babe knew the truth. Some think he continued to play rather than quit after the big moment because he didn’t want to disappoint the fans. Maybe so, but I don’t believe it. Babe wasn’t stupid. By that time, he knew he was being used. It isn’t worth further argument. He played 5 more games after the big day at Forbes Field. He went “0 for 9” and finally retired after a failed pinch hit performance in Philadelphia on May 30, 1935.

Babe Ruth’s 6 1935 HR Pitcher Victims

HR 1 off LHP Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants

HR 2 off RHP Ray Benge of the Brooklyn Dodgers

HR 3 off RHP Tex Carleton of the Chicago Cubs

HR 4 off RHP Red Lucas of the Pittsburgh Pirates

HR 5 off RHP Guy Bush of the Pittsburgh Pirates

HR 6 off RHP Guy Bush of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Stats on Babe’s Physical Limitations

They are big and gaudy. (1) Babe attempted no stolen base in 1935; (2) Of his 12 hits, 6 were homers and 7 were singles. Doubles require some running ability. And triples were out of reach.

Some Final Stat Portrayals By Table

RUTH 1935 NUMBER Key %
Games as a Brave 33
Partial Games Played of 33 28
Complete Games Played 0
Plate Appearances 92
Official At Bats 72
Hits 13
Doubles 0
Triples 0
Home Runs 6
Walks 20
Intentional Walks 0
Strikeouts 24
Runs 13
Runs Batted In 12
Total Bases 31
Batting Average .181
Slugging Average .431
On Base Percentage .359
OPS .789
OPS+ 119
Game Ending Double Plays 2
AS/SB, HBP, CI 0 all

We will always remember Babe Ruth’s 1935 season for that “kiss ’em goodbye – and kiss ’em good, far, and hard” day at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh on May 25, 1935. Now I know for sure. None of the other stuff about his difficult time as a player that season will ever matter to me. And no matter what anyone else says, I shall go on wishing that Babe Ruth had been able to do in reality what has only happened otherwise in a movie. May 25th in Pittsburgh would have been the most dramatic retirement in the history of baseball – and maybe in all fields, as well. Only the incredibly talented few get the kind of opportunity that Babe Ruth either didn’t see or refused to take. Maybe he did think the 3 homers day was more of a “I’ve still got it” sign than he did as a perfect time to leave, were it not for his commitments to play before the fans of other places too. I simply don’t believe that obligation and duty kept Ruth from seeing the truth, but who knows for certain?

1935 notwithstanding, a lot of us will die thinking that Babe Ruth was the greatest player in Baseball History.

____________________

Reference Source Credit goes to Baseball Almanac.com for making our Pecan Park Eagle tabular reconfigured presentations possible in a way we designed in the hope of providing a fresh postcard summary of Babe Ruth’s Game-By-Game, Home Run Production, and Season Offense over the course of his brief 1935 final season.

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

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3 Responses to “The Babe’s 1935 Goodbye, Game By Game”

  1. Patrick Callahan '56 Says:

    GREAT PIECE OF WORK FOR A LEAD OFF HIT!…you’re “on your way” for 2017……..Happy Birthday 2!

  2. Robert McAuliffe Says:

    It depends what you mean by the Babe was “being used”.

    As a fan of the Browns, and I assume Bill Veeck, I would assume that you are not against giving the fans a little of what they want and that it’s not *all* about what happens “between the lines”.

    Having Babe Ruth play for the Boston Braves made eminent “fan sense”: a return to the town where he started, and a tour through the National League, which had been denied the chance to see the singular individual responsible for the sport becoming the national pastime.

    It was not totally preposterous to have him in uniform. Anybody that can still hit three home runs in a “pitcher-friendly” ballpark like Forbes Field is still worth watching and having on a roster. There were to be much worse “hitter only” roster spots after the advent of the designated hitter and super-specialization (granted Babe still had to play the field).

    Also I am not sure how you know that it “never could have happened” for him to be a manager. My guess is that no one really knew whether he would be a good manager or not. But it would certainly be a risk to hire him because it would be difficult to fire him if things did not go well. So, Babe’s switching teams and leagues for a spell was a way of showcasing to the Braves and whoever else would be interested, how he jelled with a new set of players and a new set of organizational rules, plus judging whether, as a part-time player, he had the patience to sit on the bench and analyze the game .. and was found wanting in some of those areas.

    Also I think it is sometimes assumed that because Babe died in 1948 that he was already sick in 1935. Granted he was overweight in 1935 (even more overweight for him). There is every indication that he was healthy, however, until late 1946 when his cancer was diagnosed.

    PS Veeck was the king of “bringing old players back to the city where they started just to create fan interest”: Hornsby, Lanier, Junior Stephens, Mickelson, Brecheen, Marion, and Babe Martin (and it was hard to do because you didnt really have cross-league trading in those days).

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Nice commentary, Robert. All your points are well taken.

      Just one clarification, regarding “Also I am not sure how you know that it ‘never could have happened’ for him to be a manager.” I didn’t mean anywhere; I meant with the Braves. By the time he retired as an active player, it is my understanding that Ruth already knew that he was not in their near future plans as a manager. I also think that Babe was still hoping for a chance somewhere when he later took that so-called coaching job with the Dodgers. As it turned out, Brooklyn apparently hired him so the fans could watch him take batting practice as a uniformed employee of the club.

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