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Base-Ball: How to Become a Player (1888) by John Montgomery Ward

Library of Congress: Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide "was perhaps the premier publication of its day for the game of baseball. It featured editorials from baseball writers on the state of the game, statistics, photographs, and analysis of the previous season for all the Major League teams and for many of the so-called minor leagues across the nation."

The New York Times, December 10, 1916 p. S3:


Red Sox Twirler Gave Fewest Earned Runs
in American Circuit.

    Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox led the American League pitchers last season, according to the official averages, which were made public by President Ban Johnson yesterday. The pitchers are rated on the same basis as National League twirlers, not on the games won and lost, but on the number of earned runs per game.

    Ruth allowed only 1.75 runs per game and he took part in forty-four games. Eddie Cicotte of Chicago was second, allowing 1.78 runs per game. Walter Johnson of Washington was third. He allowed 1.89 runs per game.

    Davenport of St. Louis was the hardest worked pitcher, taking part in fifty-nine games. Reb Russell of Chicago was next, with fifty-six, and Bob Shawkey of the Yankees pitched in fifty-three games.

    Walter Johnson, however, pitched the greatest number of innings, 371. He also led the league in strikeouts, with 228 to his credit.

    Myers of the Athletics was the most liberal of the twirlers, and gave 168 bases on balls. Joe Bush of the Athletics was the wildest, with fifteen wild heaves. Dauss of Detroit did the most damage to his opponents by hitting sixteen players.

    Nick Cullop led the Yankee pitchers, permitting 2.05 earned runs per game. He stood ninth among the league pitchers. Shawkey was eleventh, and he took part in more games than any other of Donovan's boxmen. Mogridge was rated twelfth on the list.

The New York Times, July 21, 1918 p. 24:


Ruth Headed for Extra-Base Record Which May Stand for Years to Come.

    He scoffs when he hits a single, merely lifts his eyebrows at a double, begins to take a little interest in life when he hits a triple, and only begins to have a good time when he slams out a home run. That's George Babe Ruth, the caveman of baseball, who is whaling his way to fame this season with the Boston Red Sox.
    Ruth swings his deadly bat just like the men of the stone age waved their mighty clubs. He hits the ball harder than any player who ever wore a uniform, so the old fellows say, who used to firmly believe than no man could ever pound the ball as hard as Ed Delehanty.

    There is a world of strength in Babe Ruth's arms and shoulders. His eye is sharp and clear, and he hits any kind of pitching. Right-handed flingers and left-handers look alike to him. He fairly murders speed, and can everlastingly flatten a slow ball. The only batting weakness Babe Ruth has is a base on balls.

    Ruth's record of 11 home runs, 20 two-base hits, and 9 three base hits, is remarkable because he has been playing regularly only a limited time. Ruth has made 65 hits up to Saturday morning in 59 games for a total of 71 extra bases, which is far and away better than Burns, Cobb, Baker, and Milan, who have been playing regularly all season, and whose hits now number over the century mark. Baker has made 108 hits for 38 extra bases, and George Burns has mede 107 hits for 41 extra bases. Cobb, with 105 hits, has only 35 extra bases to his credit. Cobb has made 10 triples, 12 doubles, and 1 home run.

    Ruth recently hung up a batting record for a week which probably never has been approached in baseball or ever will be. It was during the series in Boston against Cleveland and Chicago. From July 4 to July 12, inclusive, Ruth took part in seven games, and was at bat twenty-three times. He got six runs and eleven hits, four of which were two-baggers and five three-baggers. His batting average for the week was .478, in that group of hits he had only two singles.

    If Ruth is permitted to play out the season as a regular in the outfield or at first base with the Red Sox, he could undoubtedly establish a new home run record. The American League record was made by Socks Sebold with the Athletics in 1902. Cactus Cravath of the Phillies made twenty-four in 1915. John Freeman, when with the Washington National League club in 1899, made twenty-five home runs.
    Babe's favorite home run range is at the Polo Grounds, and during each series Ruth has made one or more home runs. It is his ambition to make a home run on every park in the American League circuit this season. As an extra base slugger, Ruth ranks far ahead of any batsman in the game, with a grand average for extra base hits of .694.

    Babe's recent break with Manager Barrow of the Red Sox was over his desire to be in the game every day. The Boston manager wanted Ruth to stick to his pitching staff, and serve at the bat in other games only as a pinch hitter.
    Ruth has been wearing a leather strap on his wrist and refusing to pitch, claiming that his arm was weak. As a matter of fact he doesn't want to pitch, but wants to be in the game every day. Batting is his favorite pastime.

    Ruth is the first major leaguer who, during his pitching career, has been able to get into double figures with home runs. A few of the home run sluggers were pitchers at some time or another during their baseball careers, but they were outfielders during their slugging days. Among these were Buck Freeman, Charley Hickman, Jessee Burkett, and others.

    While Ruth generally has been looked upon as a right field hitter, he suddenly shifted his tactics during the recent series with the champion White Sox in Boston, and, by changing his stance at the bat a little, jammed several extra base hits to left field.

    The Boston slugger has all the outfielders in the American League worried, for they know that when he comes to bat he is sure to kill the ball in some direction or other. Ruth swings with terrific force. He digs his left toe deep into the dirt in the batter's box, and swings so hard that when he misses the ball he is carried around in a complete circle by the force of his wallop.

The New York Times, January 6, 1920 p. 16:


Highest Purchase Price in Baseball History Paid for Game's Greatest Slugger.
Miller Huggins Is Now in California to Sign Home-Run King at Large Salary.
Acquisition of Noted Batsman Gives New York Club the Hard-Hitting Outfielder Long Desired.

    Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox, baseball's super-slugger, was purchased by the Yankess yesterday for the largest cash sum ever paid for a player. The New York Club paid Harry Frazen of Boston $125,000 for the sensational batsman who last season caused such a furore in the national game by batting out twenty-nine home runs, a new record in long-distance clouting.
    Colonel Ruppert, President of the Yanks, said that he had taken over Ruth's Boston contract, which has two years more to run. This contract calls for a salary of $10,000 a year. Ruth recently announced that he would refuse to play for $10,000 next season, although the Boston Club has received no request for a raise in salary.

    Manager Miller Huggins is now in Los Angeles negotiating with Ruth. It is believed that the Yankee manager will offer him a new contract which will be satisfactory to the Colossus of the bat.

    President Ruppert said yesterday that Ruth would probably play right field for the Yankees. He played left field for the Red Sox last season, and had the highest fielding average among the outfielders, making only two errors during the season.
    While he is on the Pacific coast Manager Huggins will also endeavor to sign Duffy Lewis, who will be one of Ruth's companions in the outfield at the Polo Grounds next season.

Home Run Record in Danger.

    The acquisition of Ruth strengthens the Yankee club in its weakest department. With the added hitting power of Ruth, Rob Shawkey, one of the Yankee pitchers, said yesterday the New York club should be a pennant winner next season.
    For several seasons the Yankees have been experimenting with outfielders, but never have been able to land a consistent hitter. The short right field wall at the Polo Grounds should prove an easy target for Ruth next season, and, playing seventy-seven games at home, it would not be surprising if Ruth surpassed his home-run record of twenty-nine circuit clouts next Summer.

    Ruth was such a sensation last season that he supplanted the great Ty Cobb as baseball's greatest attraction, and in obtaining the services of Ruth for next season the New York club made a ten-strike which will be received with the greatest enthusiasm by Manhattan baseball fans.
    Ruth's crowning batting accomplishment came at the Polo Grounds last Fall when he hammered one of the longest hits ever seen in Harlem over the right field grandstand for his twenty-eighth home run, smashing the homer record of twenty-seven, made by Ed Williamson way back in 1884.
    The more modern home-run record, up to last season, had been held by Buck Freeman, who made twenty-five home runs when a member of the Washington club in 1899. The next best home-run hitter of modern times is Gavvy Cravath, now manager of the Phillies, who made twenty-four home runs a few seasons ago.

    Ruth's home-run drives were distributed all over the circuit, and he is the one player known to the game who hit a home run on every park on the circuit in the same season.

Specializes in Long Hits.

    Ruth's batting feats last season will stand for many years to come, unless he betters the record himself with the aid of the short right field under Coogan's Bluff. The record he made last season was a masterpiece of slugging. He went up to the bat 432 times in 130 games and produced 139 hits. Of these hits, 75 were for extra bases. Not only did he make 29 home runs, but he also made 34 two-baggers and 12 three-baggers. Ruth's batting average for extra-base hits was .657, a mark which will probably not be approached for many years to come.
    Ruth scored the greatest number of runs in the American League last season, crossing the plate 103 times. Cobb scored only 97 runs last year. Ruth was so dangerous that the American League pitchers were generous with their passes and the superlative hitter walked 101 times, many of those passes being intentional.
    Ruth also struck out more than any other batsman in the league, fanning 58 times. He also made three sacrifice hits, and he stole seven bases.

    Ruth is a native of Baltimore and is just 26 years old, just in his prime as a baseball player. He was discovered by Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore club, while playing with the baseball team of Mount St. Joseph's, a school which Ruth attended in that city, in 1913.
    In 1914 Ruth played with the Baltimore team, and up to that time little attention had been paid to his hitting. It was as a pitcher that he attracted attention in Baltimore.

    Boston bought Ruth along with Ernie Shore and some other players in 1914. The price paid for Ruth is said to have been $2,700.

Holds World's Series Record.

    Ruth was a big success in the major league from the start. In 1916, when the Red Sox won the pennant, he led the American League pitchers in effectiveness, and in the World's Series of 1916 and 1918, Ruth hung up a new World's Series pitching record for shut out innings. He pitches twenty-eight consecutive scoreless innings, which beat the record of twenty-seven scoreless innings made in the World's Series games by Christy Mathewson of the Giants.
    For the past few seasons Ruth's ambition has been to play regularly. While he was doing only pitching duty with Boston he was a sensational pinch hitter, and when he played regularly in the outfield last season he blossomed forth as the most sensational batsman the game has ever known.

    He was also a great success as a fielder, and last season he made only two errors and had 230 putouts. He also had twenty-six assists, more than any outfielder in the American League. This was because of his phenomenal throwing arm. His fielding average last season was .992.
    Ruth didn't do much pitching last season. He pitched thirteen games, and won eight and lost five.

    Manager Huggins is expected back in New York at the end of next week with Ruth's contract in his inside pocket. It is believed that the New York club will not try to hold Ruth to the Boston contract, which he has decided is unsatisfactory.
    The new contract which the Yankees have offered Ruth is said to be almost double the Boston figure of $10,000 a year...

The Perfect Hitter.

    Ruth's principle of hitting is much the same as the principle of the golfer. He comes back slowly, keeps his eye on the ball and follows through. His very position at the bat is intimidating to the pitcher. He places his feet in perfect position. He simply cannot step away from the pitch if he wants to. He can step only one way--in.
    The weight of Ruth's body when he bats is on the left leg. The forward leg is bent slightly at the knee. As he stands facing the pitcher more of his hips and back are seen by the pitcher than his chest or side.

    When he starts to swing his back is half turned toward the pitcher. He goes back as far as he can reach, never for an instant taking his eye off the ball as it leaves the pitcher's hand.
    The greatest power in his terrific swing comes when the bat is directly in front of his body, just half way in the swing. He hits the ball with terrific impact, and there is no player in the game whose swing is such a masterpiece of batting technique.