Babe Ruth returned in November 1922 from a baseball barnstorming trip, described in The Sporting News as a “frosty tour of the sticks,” chastened by the relatively light attendance he drew. He was overweight and his indulgences had caught up with him. From a career-high 59 home runs in 1921, Ruth had slipped to 39 in ’22, appearing in only 110 games, fewest since 1918 when he was with the Red Sox. Worse, he was 2-for-17 (.118) in what TSN called his “World Series ‘bust,’” a second consecutive loss to the New York Giants. “Ruth says that he has turned over a new leaf,” correspondent Joe Vila wrote. “No bright lights, no race track tips, no vaudeville acts and no big meals.” It worked. He led the American League in home runs, runs, RBIs in 1923 as the Yankees, playing in their brand new stadium, finally defeated the Giants in the World Series. (Ruth would continue to enjoy the high life for most of his career.) This story first appeared in the Nov. 16, 1922, issue of The Sporting News, under the headline, “Ruth Finds That Even in the Tank Towns He’s a ‘Bust’”.
NEW YORK, N. Y., Nov. 13. — Babe Ruth, exploded phenomenon, bobbed up here the other day, sad and wise. It appears that during the recent barn storming tour of Ruth and his side partner, Bob Meusel, the expected crowds of rural fans didn’t materialize. Although Babe and Bob knocked out many home runs there was no excitement and the jingle of the coin wasn’t heard.
As a result of this frosty trip, Ruth says that he has turned over a new leaf. No bright lights, no race track tips, no vaudeville acts and no big meals. He intends to spend the winter months at his new home in Massachusetts, resting peacefully until Miller Huggins calls him to the spring training camp.
Ruth intends to do a lot of hard work, instead of posing before the footlights. He is over-weight and knows it. He wants to reduce his bay window before spring so that he can see the low curve balls that American League pitchers surely will serve around his knees next year.
Ruth will not draw anything like $50,000 in salary during 1923. At least that is the prevalent opinion here, although some of the wise men say that he signed for two years last spring.
The Babe certainly didn’t earn his record breaking salary during the recent campaign. His World’s Series “bust” hasn’t been forgotten and it is safe to say that the Yankee Colonels are not in the mood to guarantee another huge bonus for knocking the ball out of the lot next season.
Ruth, therefore, must begin all over again. He must put himself in first class physical condition this winter and then go to the training camp eager and willing to give his best efforts. If he falls down, after what has happened, the former Home Run King will not be a card at the New Yankee stadium and will finally disappear from public view.
Nobody Knocking Him At All.
A square deal will be Ruth’s lot. Nobody wants to crush him or drive him out of baseball. He realizes his many mistakes and wants to make amends. By showing the proper spirit he can win back thousands of admirers and if he breaks his home run record he will be a king again. But New York fans, tired of the bunk, must be shown. They are willing to reserve decision in Ruth’s case until he has had fair chance to prove his sincerity. So when the faded Bambino picks up his big bat in the first American League game here next April, the fans will be on hand to render the final verdict.
Enemies of Ruth who have clamored for his release have nettled him. It is the first time he ever has read such stories and he doesn’t like them at all. But the Yankees couldn’t sell or trade the once brilliant star if they wanted to for there isn’t another club in the American League that would agree to pay him the salary ho demands. Furthermore, I doubt if there’s a manager in Ban Johnson’s circuit who would care to have Ruth under his control after recalling the trials and tribulations of Miller Huggins.
No, Ruth will not be sent away from here. He will receive another chance to redeem himself and if he does the Yankees will get back a lot of the coin that has been invested in the new Bronx plant. The Colonels have had a talk with their fallen idol since his return from the frosty tour of the sticks and apparently all has been forgiven and an understanding reached.
Miller Huggins Marking Time.
Miller Huggins is at his home in Cincinnati recovering from a painful operation. As far as anyone knows, he hasn’t made a move for next year except to carry on some correspondence with Clarence Mitchell, the southpaw spitball pitcher who will not remain with the Brooklyn team. Otto Miller, also through with the Robins, has asked Huggins for a coaching job, but so far has received no reply.
Huggins will be up and doing at the American League meeting next month. The Yankee Colonels will meet him there prepared to learn his plans, if he has any. It looks like a sure thing that the mute manager will try to talk trades with several clubs, for he has plenty of material with which to effect deals. Among the know-alls in this vicinity the impression prevails that Huggins will try to get rid or Carl Mays, Everett Scott and Aaron Ward, also Whitey Witt — but who wants these men? What can Huggins get for them?
Somebody said the other day that when Huggins got through trading he’d have identically the same team that was crushed by the Giants in the late World’s Series. In other words, nobody would be tempted by Hug’s propositions, in view of the troublesome incidents in the Yankees camp this year. But if Huggins fails to make radical changes in his ball team, New York fans will be found cool and indifferent.
MORE: Babe Ruth homers in Yankee Stadium opening (April 26, 1923)
There must be winner at the new Yankee Stadium, a team that will capture another American League pennant despite the strengthened opposition in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and St. Louis. The all-powerful Giants will maintain their prestige and popularity at the Polo Grounds, no doubt, so that on the other side of the Harlem River Huggins must provide an attraction of equal magnetism.
Which Puts It Up to Huggins.
It may be realized, therefore, the difficult task that confronts the mite manager. The terms of his new content clothe him with absolute authority. He can make any deals that originate in his bean, without incurring visible displeasure on the part of his employers. But how the little fellow is going to make the New York baseball public believe that he has a greater ball team than the one that recently humiliated the entire American League is a problem that cannot be solved at this time.
The Yankee Stadium is nearing completion and it is a wonder. The steel and concrete walls tower high above the surrounding territory. The diamond has teen laid out by Phil Schenck, the capable ground keeper, and a quarter-mile cinder path has been completed. Already the word is passed around that the Army-Navy football game will be played in the Yankee Stadium next fall. If this report is true, the Yankees have dealt the Giants a body blow, inasmuch as West Point and Annapolis formerly played their gridiron engagement at the Polo Grounds.
As a matter of fact, the Yankees and Giants are beginning to clash in other ways. They are said to be trying to underbid each other in competition for several important college football games and both will enter the outdoor boxing game on a cut rate basis next summer.
Independence May Mean Conflicts.
Once established in their new home, the Yankees will put the American League in a thoroughly independent position. There may be conflicting Sunday games, as the beginning of a great baseball war. It’s an open secret that feeling between the majors has become quite strained and, unless somebody pours the oil, a break in their friendly relations may occur.
It cannot be denied that the American League men are bitter over the result of the World’s Series and the way the Yankees were driven out of the Polo Grounds.
Among National Leaguers, there is some curiosity as to the reason why their clubs have been rounded up by the new players' union, while the American League has not been molested. Trouble makers, who never overlook a bet, started a yarn last week that Ban Johnson was preparing to attack Judge Landis for the purpose of establishing old conditions. Of course, the Yankee Colonels had to be interviewed, and one of them was made to pan the American League’s head.
If there is any feeling in the rival leagues against Judge Landis it is bound to be shown next month. But I have an idea that the Judge, in that event, will bo able to hold the fort. All he has to do is shake the big stick. Put some more coal in the stove. The Winter League season has opened!