Babe could never get enough attention and admiration from his fans – he thrived on their enthusiasm. It probably made him an even better, more motivated player as a result. Although he could be exuberant and somewhat cocky in personality, Babe normally didn’t take his fame or fortune for granted.
Many times gave to others who were less fortunate, most particularly to children. Children were Babe’s biggest fans, who loved and admired him unconditionally throughout his life, and Babe always loved children in return. Even as a child himself, Babe was looking out for the younger and less fortunate children at St. Mary’s. It was said that in wintertime that Ruth would run around the courtyard of St. Mary’s, rubbing and blowing on the hands of the younger kids, trying to keep them warm.
Later in life, during his baseball career and retirement, Babe always made efforts with kids and those who helped him. The stories abound. At the height of his fame, Babe hardly ever passed up a request to visit an orphanage or a sick child in the hospital. He always spent time patientaly signing baseballs for each and every youngster who waited for him before and after games, as well as in public appearances later in life. As another example, St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore suffered a major fire in the 1930′s, which caused significant damage to the main building. In response, Babe organized a fundraising drive that generated over $100,000 – a substantial amount of money in those days — for repairs and rebuilding.
Three of BRC’s contributors conveyed stories that illustrated spirit and kindness.
Mike Gibbons, Executive Director of the Babe Ruth Musuem and Birthplace, shared this perspective:
“He never ever turned a kid down for an autograph – no matter what. Towards the end, when he was in the hospital before he died, there was always a bunch of kids down on the sidewalk hoping to catch a glimpse of him or something like that. He would have these business-sized cards with nothing on them and he would sign as many of them as he could at the time and give them to his nurse and tell her to take them downstairs to the kids down on the sidewalk, or he would give her $10 and say, ‘here, go buy all the kids some ice cream cones.’”
Billy Werber, Babe’s former Yankees teammate, recounted:
“He was very generous. In Detroit, the clubhouse boy had gone out earlier to hang the uniforms up and put the locker in order for the Yankees to the play. It was cold and the game was called off and the kid had come back to the hotel and he was shaking with cold and Babe called him over – we were sitting there in circle chewing the fat – and peeled two $20 bills out of his pocket and told the kid to go out and buy himself a coat. When the kid came back we were still standing there and he comes over to give Babe $20 back, ‘Here Babe, it only cost me $20″ and Babe said, “You keep it and buy yourself something good to eat.’”
Betty Hoyt, Yankee Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt’s widow, recalled one of Waite’s stories of Babe’s generosity:
“Waite said that people were always borrowing from Babe because Babe was making a lot more money than the rest of the players. So they would borrow money from Babe and they would pay him back when they got paid, but Babe would never take interest on any of it. And sometimes Babe would get loans from the guys and he would always give them 6% interest. As soon as he got paid he’d go over to them and pay them their money back plus 6% interest but he would never take interest from them. Because he knew that he was much
better off than they all were.”