I think “The Babe” was one of the first of the truly national baseball celebrities who was a great crowd pleaser. Branch Rickey (ex-Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers) said of Babe, Ruth, “He has created an expectation of hero worship on the part of the youth of this country, and it was a most fortunate thing that Ruth kept faith with the boyhood of America because they loved him.” I am sure there are comparisons to some of the current baseball players – but so many of today’s athletes seem to have a team of publicists promoting them. And they may not have anywhere near the character “The Babe” had. He said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
Here is Babe Ruth’s “The King of Swat” Hall of Fame speech of June 12, 1939
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I hope some day that some of the young fellows coming into the game will know how it feels to be picked in the Hall of Fame. I know the old boys back in there were just talking it over, some have been here long before my time. They got on it, I worked hard, and I got on it. And I hope that the coming generation, the young boys today, that they’ll work hard and also be on it.
And as my old friend Cy Young says, “I hope it goes another hundred years and the next hundred years will be the greatest. You know to me this is just like an anniversary myself, because twenty-five years ago yesterday I pitched my first baseball game in Boston, for the Boston Red Sox. (applause)
So it seems like an anniversary for me too, and I’m surely glad and it’s a pleasure for me to come up here and be picked also in the Hall of Fame. Thank you.”