LOS ANGELES, June 18, 2013 — Turn Back the Clock Tuesday turns the clock back to the year 1938. On this day in 1938, Babe Ruth returns to baseball, but as a coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Babe Ruth retired as a player after the 1935 season at the age of 40. He left the game as the greatest hitter baseball had ever seen. He still is considered by many to be the greatest hitter of all-time. He left the game with a career .342 average, 714 homeruns and 2,220 RBIs.
Ruth was among the first five players voted into the Hall of Fame in 1936.
Looking to capitalize on the Bambino’s popularity and his ability to sell more tickets, the Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager, Larry MacPhail, hired Babe Ruth to be their first base coach. The move was largely just for show. Ruth was given no signs or messages to relay. He did take batting practice with the team.
While with the Dodgers, Ruth never got a long with one of the players, Leo Durocher. After the 1938 season ended, Brooklyn’s manager, Burleigh Grimes retired and Durocher was hired as Grimes’ replacement. Durocher and the Dodgers would part ways with Ruth after the 1938 season.
This would be Babe Ruth’s last official job with the game of baseball. In 1943, Ruth again contacted MacPhail, now with the Yankees, to get back into baseball in some capacity, but the former slugger’s services were no longer needed.
Babe Ruth would return to Yankee Stadium one last time in 1948 to celebrate the stadium’s anniversary. “The House that Ruth built” was 25 years old.
Just over two months later on August 16, 1948, Babe Ruth died in his sleep at the age of 53.
Also on this date in baseball history…
Former major leaguer, sort of, Eddie Gaedel died on this day in 1961. Ten years earlier, Gaedel was made famous when St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck, who was known for his marketing tricks, signed him for a one day contract in 1951. What made the signing peculiar was the fact that Gaedel stood only 3’7” tall.
Eddie Gaedel wore the number 1/8 on the back of his jersey for his only plate appearance. He was walked on four straight pitches. Once on first base, the very short player’s very short career ended as he was replaced with a pinch runner.
Gaedel’s death was a sad one indeed. He was followed home from a bowling alley in Chicago. His mother found him dead the next day. Eddie Gaedel was severely beaten and also suffered a heart attack during the incident. He was 36.
Dr. Steven L. Adler of the Wells On Baseball think tank contributed to this story.
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