Category Archives: Babe Ruth

Anyway, I Had a Better Year Than He Did

Babe Ruth? Tom Meany? Apocryphal?

baberuth08Dear Quote Investigator: A humorous story is told about the renowned baseball slugger Babe Ruth. He was negotiating his salary during the depths of the economic depression and was told that the amount he had requested was outlandish because it exceeded the remuneration given to Herbert Hoover who was the U.S. President. Ruth replied:

What’s Hoover got to do with it? Besides, I had a better year than he did.

I have not been able to find solid support for this tale. Is this anecdote accurate?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence known to QI was published in a 1947 biography titled “Babe Ruth: The Big Moments of the Big Fellow” by Tom Meany who was a New York sportswriter with a multi-decade career. Meany provided this description. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Those writers who were closest to Ruth attempted to convince the slugger that this was no time to hold out, with millions unemployed and thousands on the point of actual starvation. How much did Babe want, anyway?

“Just what I’ve been getting for the last two seasons,” explained Ruth with what he thought was a great show of patience, “$8o,ooo.”

“$8o,ooo a year! In these times!” expostulated one of the writers. Don’t be silly, Babe. Why that’s more than Hoover gets for being president of the United States.”

“What the hell has Hoover got to do with this?” demanded the Babe. “Anyway, I had a better year than he did.”

The above citation was identified by top researchers Bill Mullins and Stephen Goranson. Librarian specialist John Van Hook of the University of Florida, Gainesville obtained scans. This entry also incorporates some of the excellent citations located by premier investigator Barry Popik. 2 Thanks to all of them

Contemporary newspaper reports indicate that Ruth negotiated a two-year salary contract that paid $80,000 in 1930 and 1931. In 1932 he obtained $75,000 for his services. Interestingly, in 1933 he was willing to accept $55,000. Thus, if the tale was true then the disagreement probably occurred circa 1932. However, the first known account was published in 1947 which was rather late.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1947, Babe Ruth: The Big Moments of the Big Fellow by Tom Meany, Chapter 10: The First Cut, Quote Page 139, Published by A. S. Barnes, New York. (Verified with scans; great thanks to John Van Hook and the University of Florida, Gainesville library system)
  2. Website: The Big Apple, Article title: “I (Babe Ruth) had a better year than he (President Hoover) did”, Date on website: June 06, 2013, Website description: Etymological dictionary with more than 10,000 entries. (Accessed barrypopik on December 22, 2014) link

You Just Can’t Beat the Person Who Never Gives Up

Babe Ruth? Apocryphal?

babe03Dear Quote Investigator: George Herman Ruth Jr. was one of the greatest baseball players in history. His famous nickname was Babe Ruth. A popular adage about perseverance and tenacity has been attributed to him. Here are three versions I have found:

(1) You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.
(2) It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.
(3) It’s hard to beat somebody when they don’t give up.

Because there are multiple versions I am beginning to wonder whether Babe Ruth actually spoke or wrote these words. It is listed in multiple books of sports quotations without any source. Would you please examine this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1940 “The Rotarian” magazine published an article titled “Bat It Out!” with the byline George Herman (‘Babe’) Ruth. “The Rotarian” was published by Rotary International, an enduring civic organization known for its Rotary Clubs. In the penultimate paragraph of the essay, Babe Ruth presented the adage for the guidance of his readers. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

One more point: A good player never stops until he’s actually out, running as hard for first base on the almost-certain-to-be-caught fly or grounder as he would if he were sprinting the 100-yard dash.

If Henry Ford hadn’t kept going in the early days despite ridicule, we would never have seen the Ford car. It’s been much the same with almost every great man you could name. He kept plugging when everybody said his chances of making first base were nil. You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 1940 July, The Rotarian, “Bat It Out!” by George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth, Start Page 12, Quote Page 14, Published by Rotary International. (Google Books Full View) link