It all started with a poem written in 1822. An Episcopal minister by the name of Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem for his three daughters called “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas”. The poem that Moore wrote is also known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. The “right jolly old elf” that Clement created for his family became the image of Santa Claus that we know today: a rotund man who cruses around on a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer and delivers presents to all of the good little kiddies. Moore’s Santa became a national hit and has been ever since. Meanwhile, a little less than 100 years later, Babe Ruth appeared as one of sport’s eternal legends.
Babe Ruth: The Santa Claus of Baseball
For nearly the next sixty years, Santa was unmarried and had a bit of an identity crisis. Then Thomas Nast came into the picture. Nast was a political cartoonist who, like the rest of the Christmas-crazy United States, enjoyed Moore’s poem. So, Thomas put pen to paper and drew to life the image that Moore had created in Nast’s mind. The first thing he did was get Santa hitched; enter Mrs. Claus. Then, he gave him a white beard and a suit fit for a guy who gives you stuff for free. The suit was, you guessed it, red and trimmed with white fur. He also gave him a place to live, the North Pole, a place to work, his workshop, and some co-workers, elves, to impose his guiding light upon. Santa was officially ready for business.
Who Is This Babe Ruth Guy?
A Man of Multitudes
Babe Ruth was a person of multitudes, just as we all are. Ruth was known to be a swiller of booze, a gormandizer, a womanizer, and was easily tempted into intemperate behavior. He also had a kind heart and was given to charitable acts. If you hadn’t heard, Babe was also a pretty good baseball player.
The Sultan of Swat was given that nickname for a reason. He has a lifetime .342 batting average and until another Sultan of Swat, Hank Aaron, came around, he held the home run record with 714. Ruth has seven World Series rings, a batting title, numerous home run titles, and even an ERA title because, yes, Babe was a pretty good pitcher, too. He only had two All-Star selections, but that is because the Mid-Summer Classic didn’t existence until 1933 and Ruth retired from baseball in 1935 after 28 games with the Boston Braves.
READ MORE: THE YEAR OF THE BABE — 1920, The Most Important Year in Baseball History?
The Santa in Ruth
Just like old St. Nick, Babe Ruth had a soft spot for children. Even going back to his days at the St. Mary’s Industrial School, where Ruth spent a good part of his youth, it is documented that Babe would blow and rub the hands of the younger students, helping them to keep warm during the cold Baltimore winters.
Once baseball stardom took hold, Ruth did not lose his charitable and caring nature. He frequently visited orphanages and hospitals, bringing smiles to the faces of children in need of some cheering up. He even organized a fundraising drive for his former school, St. Mary’s, after a fire ravaged its halls in the 1930s, generating nearly $100,000 to help with repairs.
During his famed 60 home run season in 1927, Babe Ruth helped, monetarily, establish a hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, the home of the Yankees spring training facility, for special needs children. Even after his retirement, Babe found ways to continue his giving spirit. During World War II he partnered with the Red Cross and visited many military hospitals. And this was all done at a time when it wasn’t common for star athletes to donate their time or money to charity.
Even in death, Ruth continued to give. When he passed in 1948 much of his wealth was given to the Babe Ruth Foundation, which helped impoverished children.
Like Santa Claus, the legend of Babe Ruth was built in much the same way for his desire to help children. Through others’ words their myth grew to astronomical proportions. To this day both the man in red and the man in stripes are celebrated worldwide. Ruth and St. Nick gave to those in need and spread a little cheer in a weary world. Who knows, this Christmas Eve instead of seeing eight tiny reindeer, you might spot a rosy cheeked Ruth calling his shot on your front lawn and hopefully leaving an autographed ball in your stocking.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images