Babe Ruth: 'Less than a god but more than a man'

By Eric Sandler

[Scene from 'The Sandlot']

: I was gonna put the ball back.

Squints: But it was signed by Babe Ruth!

Smalls: Yeah, you keep telling me that! Who is she?

Ham Porter: WHAT? WHAT?

Kenny: The sultan of swat!

Bertram: The king of crash!

Timmy: The colossus of clout!

Tommy: The colossus of clout!



Smalls: Oh my god! You mean that's the same guy?

All: YES!

Benny Rodriguez: Smalls, Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player that ever lived. People say he was less than a god but more than a man. You know, like Hercules or something. That ball you just aced to The Beast is worth, well, more than your whole life.

New York's  Babe Ruth
New York's Babe Ruth

On August 11, 1929 -- 85 years ago today -- George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. became the first baseball player to hit 500 career home runs when he hit the first ball pitched by Willis Hudlin that night on his first at-bat while playing at League Park (formerly Dunn Field) in Cleveland Ohio.

On that day, he must have felt more "god" than "man," and in fact to this day, there have only been 25 other professional baseball players to reach the feat he pioneered.

The newspapers also told of another story the next day: "Babe Ruth Hits 500th Homer; Ball Is Found." As the story goes, the "Sultan of Swat" approached League Park's chief of police, H. Clay Folger, before the game explaining that he would be hitting his 500th home run that night and wanted the ball as a souvenir. As it turned out, the Babe would end up paying $20 to buy back the ball from a wide-eyed fan [read the full story here]. But that was just the type of guy he was -- a legend for the fans, not just the history books.

"Known for devouring the most hot dogs to drinking the most beers to bedding the most women, he possessed an insatiable appetite for life," explained Larry Schwartz, and that's what people loved in equal proportions to every home run he smashed out of the park.

His name was transformed into a definition of the accomplishments he became a legend for -- Ruthian feats. And as such, we remember the Babe today for the Ruthian batting accomplishment that launched an exclusive club few others have joined over the years. Here's to Number 500.

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