TSN ARCHIVES: Babe Ruth, “Bust”? (issued November 16, 1922)


Babe Ruth returned in November 1922 from a baseball trip, described in The Sporting News as a “half-hearted inning of sticks”, impressed by the relatively light presence he drew. He was overweight and his indulgence caught up to him. From his 59 home runs in 1921, Ruth fell to 39 in 22, appearing in only 110 games, the fewest since 1918 when he was with the Red Sox. Even worse, he was 2-for-17 (. 118) in what TSN called a “World Series bust,” a second straight loss to the New York Giants. “Ruth says it turned over a new leaf,” reporter Joe Villa wrote. “No bright lights, no racetrack tips, no vaudeville shows and no big meals.” it worked. He led the American League in runs, runs, and RBIs in 1923 as the Yankees played in their new stadium, finally defeating the Giants in the World Series. (Ruth would go on to enjoy the high life for most of his career.) This story first appeared in the November 16, 1922 issue of The Sporting News, under the headline “Ruth Finds That Even in Tank Towns Is ‘Bankrupt'”.


New York, NY. Nov. 13. – Babe Ruth blew up the phenomenon, and bobbed here that day, sad and wise. It seems that during the recent barnstorming tour of Ruth and his sidekick, Bob Musil, the expected crowds of country fans didn’t materialize. Although Pip and Bob came off several home runs, there was no excitement and the coin jingle was not heard.

As a result of this half-hearted trip, Ruth says he has turned over a new leaf. No bright lights, no racetrack tips, no vaudeville shows, and no big meals. He intends to spend the winter months at his new home in Massachusetts, resting in peace until Miller Huggins invites him to spring training camp.

Ruth intends to do a lot of hard work, rather than stand in front of the spotlight. He is overweight and knows it. He wants to shrink his nets before the spring so he can see the low-curve balls that MLS pitchers will surely use around his knees next year.

Ruth wouldn’t get anything like $50,000 in salary during 1923. At least that’s the prevailing opinion here, though some sages say he signed for two years last spring.

The Babe certainly didn’t earn his record salary during the last campaign. His World Series “bust” is not forgotten and it’s safe to say the Yankee Colonels are in no mood to secure another huge payoff for getting the ball out of the game next season.

Therefore, Ruth must start over. He should put himself in first-class physical shape this winter and then go into training camp eager and willing to do his best. If he falls, after what happened, the former Home Run King will no longer be a card in New Yankee Stadium and will finally disappear from sight.

Nobody ever knocks him down.

The square deal will be the Roth share. Nobody wants to be crushed or kicked out of baseball. He realizes his many mistakes and wants to fix them. By showing proper spirit, he can win back thousands of fans, and if he breaks his home run record, he’ll be king again. But bed-sick New York fans should show up. They are willing to keep the decision in Roth’s case until he has a fair chance to prove his sincerity. So when the fading Bambino picks up his big bat in his first MLS game here next April, fans will be on hand to pass the final verdict.

more: TSN Archives: Editorial – Babe Ruth in a Class of His Own (released October 6, 1927)

Ruth’s enemies, who demanded his release, finished him off. It’s the first time he’s read such stories and he doesn’t like them at all. But the Yankees can’t sell or trade the superstar if they want to because no other club in the MLS will agree to pay him the salary he demands. Moreover, I doubt there is a manager in Ban Johnson’s circle who will be interested in bringing Ruth under his control after recalling the trials and tribulations of Miller Huggins.

No, Ruth will not be expelled from here. He’d get another chance to redeem himself, and if he did, the Yankees would get back a lot of the currency that was invested in the new Bronx plant. The Colonel has had a talk with their fallen idol since he returned from his Frosty Sticks tour and it seems all is forgiven and an understanding is reached.

Miller Huggins marking the time.

Miller Huggins is at home in Cincinnati recovering from painful surgery. As far as everyone knows, he has not moved into the next year except to continue some correspondence with Clarence Mitchell, a spitball pitcher who will not be staying with the Brooklyn team. Otto Miller, who was also through the Robins, has asked Huggins for a coaching job, but has yet to hear back.

Huggins will be up and doing at the American League meeting next month. The Yankee colonel would meet him there ready to find out his plans, if he had any. It seemed certain that the silent manager would try to talk deals with several clubs, as he had plenty of material from which to make deals. Among those in the know in this area, one gets the impression that Huggins will try to get rid of her or Carl Mays, Everett Scott, Aaron Ward, and also Whitty Witt – but who wants those guys? What could Huggins get?

Someone said the other day that when Huggins got into the trade, he had the same team that the Giants were crushing late in the World Series. In other words, no one will be tempted by Hough’s suggestions, given the troubling events at Yankees camp this year. But if Huggins fails to make drastic changes to his ball team, New York fans will be found cool and apathetic.

more: Babe Ruth Homers at Yankee Stadium Opening (26 April 1923)

There must be a winner at the new Yankee Stadium, the team that will capture another American League pennant despite strong opposition in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and St. Louis. The mighty giants will retain their status and popularity at the Polo Grounds, no doubt, so on the other side of the river Harlem Huggins should provide equal magnetic attraction.

Which leaves him up to Huggins.

So the difficult task facing the dream manager can be realized. The conditions of his new content clothe him in absolute power. He could conclude any deals arising in his vault, without causing obvious discontent on the part of his employers. But how this little guy will make the New York baseball crowd think he has a bigger ball team than the one that recently humiliated the entire American League is a problem that can’t be solved at this time.

Yankee Stadium is nearing completion which is amazing. The steel and concrete walls tower high above the surrounding area. The teen diamond was laid by Phil Schenck, a capable groundskeeper, and the quarter-mile cinder track is finished. Word has already been circulating that the Army-Navy football game will be held at Yankee Stadium next fall. If this report is correct, the Yankees have dealt a physical blow to the Giants, much as West Point and Annapolis previously played their co-host at the Polo Grounds.

As a matter of fact, the Yankees and Giants were beginning to clash in other ways. They are reportedly trying to underprice each other in the competition for several important college football games and both will be entering outdoor boxing on a reduced rate basis next summer.

Independence may mean conflicts.

Once established in their new home, the Yankees would put the American League in a fully independent position. There may be conflicting games on Sunday, as the start of a great baseball war. It is an open secret that the feeling between the big corporations has become very strained, and unless someone spills the oil, there may be a break in their friendly relations.

more: Babe Ruth ends – Yankees take on Ruth, Baby Ruth Day 1947

There is no denying that the men of the American Association are bitter over the outcome of the World Series and the way the Yankees were kicked out of the polo grounds.

Among the National Leagues, there is some curiosity as to why their clubs have been arrested by the New Players Association, while the American League has not been molested. The Troublemakers, who never condone a bet, last week started threads that Ban Johnson was preparing to attack Judge Landis for the purpose of setting up old circumstances. Of course, the Yankee colonels had to be interviewed, and one was assigned to the head of the American League.

If there is any sense in competing championships against Judge Landis, it is likely that it will be shown next month. But I have a notion that the judge, in that event, will be able to hold the castle. All he has to do is shake the big stick. Put more coals in the stove. The Winter League season has opened!


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