Story: Jack Rosin
Multimedia: Zach Maskavich
Most Baltimoreans know George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. was born right here in the city of Baltimore, but it is rather uncommon to find someone that knows his father used to own and run a saloon right where the center field of Camden Yards sits today.
George Herman Ruth, Sr. and his wife Kate Schamberger-Ruth gave birth to eight children, but only Babe and his sister Mamie survived past infancy.
“His parents owned a saloon over where Oriole Park is,” said John V. Hein, director of business development at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. “And they didn’t want to have the baby in a bar, so they came over here to her parents’ house to have the baby.”
The Babe Ruth Museum, located at 216 Emory St. in Baltimore, MD, is the site where Babe Ruth was born, but not where he was raised.
Although lightning rods and booze seems like a rather unlikely combination, the Ruth family was able to stay above water, and although their living situations never improved, they always had a place to stay and a place to eat.
George Herman Ruth Sr. owned and ran his saloon until his premature death in 1918. It was just another routine day on the job until tragedy struck.
“The bar was constantly having issues with the law…” Hein said. “He went outside to break up a fight, and he fell and hit his head on the curb.”
It was after this event that Babe Ruth decided it was time for him to turn his back on the city and all of the bad memories that came along with it. He was 23-years-old at the time of his father’s passing.
So little is known about Babe Ruth’s early years that even most history books either barely talk about it or simply skip it altogether. Nobody knew Babe Ruth was going to become the prodigy that he was, so nobody cared to document his life as a boy. But what Baltimoreans know is that he was born and raised here in their city, and they hold this fact near and dear to their hearts.