We received this email from one of our readers, CharlieVascellaro
Yankee Stadium may be “the house that Ruth built,” but the little row house at 216 Emory Street is the house that built Ruth and Baltimore is where his life was formed. Oriole Park at Camden Yards was built on a site where the Babe’s father owned one of a handful of saloons that he operated in the city. The babe lived on Emory Street only briefly it was actually the home of his mother’s parents. It was a hardscrabble existence for the Ruths Babe’s father George worked around the clock running bar rooms in a tough inner harbor neighborhood that bore no resemblance to the tourist trap it is today. His mother Kate suffered through a series of illnesses and infirmities. Kate gave birth to seven children but only two survived past infancy (can you imagine if Babe had been of the fatalities?). She died when Babe was 17 years old. In his early years Babe practically raised himself. He was a rambunctious youth who ran wild on the city’s mean streets. Unable to care for Babe in a fitting manor his parents enrolled him at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys (more recently known as Cardinal Gibbons on Wilkens Avenue) when he was 7 years old. St. Mary’s was a way station for boys where strict brothers of the Catholic Congregation of St. Francis Xavier groomed and prepared them for manhood. Barely a mile from his home Babe saw little of his parents over the next 12 years and was still housed in the school at the time of his mother’s death. At St. Mary’s Babe had the good fortune to come under the guidance of Brother Gilbert and Brother Mathias who coached the school’s baseball teams. Baseball provided Ruth with focus and peace for the first time in his life and gave him a sorely needed channel for his excess energy. He learned the game quickly, excelling as both a pitcher and s hitter, and it wasn’t long before he developed a reputation that extended beyond the walls of St. Mary’s. Ruth was discovered in 1914 by Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore Orioles of the International League which was almost considered a third major league and stepping stone for future manor leaguers. Eventually, Ruth simply played himself out of the league. His talent could not escape the notice of major league raiders and he was eventually sold to the Boston Red Sox where his legend began to take form. You might be familiar with the rest of the story: Ruth’s streak of 29 and 2/3 scoreless innings pitched in the 1916 and 1918 World Series for the Red Sox, his eventual sale to the Yankees in 1920, his first single-season home record of 54 in that same year, his eclipsing of the all-time record of 136 in the following year and his ultimate total of 714 which stood for 39 years until it was surpassed by Hank Aaon in 1974. Baltimore was not a major league city when the Babe left town and doesn’t hold the fame he achieved elsewhere against him. Baltimore is simply proud to claim him as a native son and proud of its part in his development. Babe’s place in history extends beyond his affiliation with two of the Orioles American League rivals. On the plaque below his statue it does not list the teams he played for it simply reads “Babe Ruth Baltimorean.”
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