Happy 100th Anniversary: Babe Ruth's Major-League Debut

By: Mike Axisa
By: Mike Axisa

BOSTON (CBS) -- On this date in 1914, Babe Ruth made his major league debut as a 19-year-old pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. He held the Cleveland Naps to three runs (two earned) in seven innings to earn the win at Fenway Park. Here's the box score. Among those in the Naps' lineup were Shoeless Joe Jackson and Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie.

Ruth made two more starts and one relief appearance with the Red Sox the rest of the 1914 season, finishing with a 3.91 ERA in 23 innings. He joined the staff full-time the next year and pitched to a 2.44 ERA in 217 2/3 innings. The year after that he led the league with a 1.75 ERA in 323 2/3 innings.

The 1919 season was Ruth's last as both a regular pitcher and a member of the Red Sox. He had a 2.97 ERA in 113 1/3 innings that year in addition to hitting .322/.456/.657 (216 OPS+) with a league-best 29 home runs and 113 RBI. Only five of the other 15 teams in the league managed to hit 29 homers that season.

The Red Sox sold Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000 on Dec. 26, 1919, and the rest is history. He became, relative to the rest of the league at the time, the most dominant offensive force in baseball history, hitting .359/.489/.730 (214 OPS+) with an average of 46 home runs per season from 1920-32 before beginning his decline.

Ruth retired following the 1935 season with 714 career home runs, which was then the most in history by a mile. (Lou Gehrig was second on the all-time list with 378 homers at the time.) His hitting dominance makes it easy to overlook his pitching career -- Ruth went 94-46 with a 2.28 ERA in 1,221 1/3 career innings across 10 seasons on the mound.

It is difficult if not impossible to accurately compare players across eras, but by just about any measure, Ruth was the greatest baseball player to ever live. One hundred years ago today, he played in his very first major-league game.

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