George Herman “Babe” Ruth (1895-1948)
Babe Ruth Becomes First Player To Hit 500 Home Runs
Hitting the first pitch he saw, Babe Ruth made history on August 11, 1929, becoming the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit 500 home runs.
Babe Ruth was a man of huge achievements. He began his baseball career as a left-handed pitcher, and later moved to the outfield. Babe did not achieve legendary status because of his talents in the field, though. He won America’s heart by swatting dramatic home runs and with his larger-than-life style.
By August 1929, he had racked up an unprecedented 499 home runs. Prior to his game at Cleveland’s League Park, Babe approached the field’s police chief. He told the chief he would hit his 500th home run that day and wanted to keep the ball.
True to his word, Ruth hit Willis Hudlin’s first pitch in his first at-bat high over the right field wall onto Lexington Avenue. As the game continued, the park police rushed to the street to find the lucky fan. Eventually they found young Jake Geiser and asked for the ball. When his friend suggested that Jake might want to keep the ball, the police and Cleveland team secretary offered to take him to the Yankee dugout to meet the Babe. There, Ruth offered Jake a signed ball for the one he’d hit. Jake obliged and Ruth also gave him $20.
Over the course of his career, Ruth hit 714 home runs, a record that stood until 1974, when it was broken by Hank Aaron. Barry Bonds was the only other player to hit more than Aaron. Only 26 men have hit more than 500 home runs, but Ruth has the distinction of being the first.