Babe Ruth Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

Baseball legend George Herman “Babe” Ruth will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United State’s highest civilian honor, today Friday, November 16. A White House press release listed Ruth among seven American icons who will be honored. His career spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. He was with the Yankees for 15 seasons, leading them to seven American League championships and four World Series Titles.

The first baseball player to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom was Morris “Moe” Berg, in 1945, from President Harry S. Truman. Berg was honored because of his service with the Office of Strategic Service (OSS) in the war after his Major League Baseball career was over. To learn more about other baseball players awarded the medal click here:

Babe Ruth and Morris “Moe” Berg traveled together to Japan in 1934 on an
American All-Star Baseball tour. Fascinating details about the trip and their
friendship will be featured in Aviva Kempner’s upcoming full-length
documentary about Moe Berg. Robert Fitts, author of Banzai Babe Ruth,
Vernona Gomez, daughter of Lefty Gomez and author of Lefty, An American Odyssey, and Julia Ruth Stevens, daughter of Babe Ruth, are all featured in the film. Home movies from Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Gomez featuring the Japan trip will also be included.

Julia Ruth Stevens and her family shared a statement about the award. They write, “One lesser known aspect of Babe’s life of which we are most proud are his efforts off the field, especially with children. Throughout his life, Babe visited thousands of children in hospitals and orphanages, often at considerable inconvenience. He regularly could be found standing outside the stadium for hours after baseball games, signing autographs. He paid hospital bills for people he barely knew. He supported over 100 charities and foundations over the course of his life. The family statement continues, “Of German descent himself, Babe publicly spoke out against the German persecution of Jews in the years leading up to the American entry into WWII and participated in numerous charitable events that raised funds for the war effort.”

Ruth is also known for using his famous name by participating in the German-American protest against the Holocaust, and helping to attract public attention to the Jews’ plight. Timing is everything, both on the baseball field and beyond, and the timing of Ruth’s protest was crucial: Precisely at the moment when U.S. officials were hoping to brush the Jewish refugee problem aside, Babe Ruth helped keep it front and center. During the last week of December 1942, the “Christmas Declaration by men and women of German ancestry,” appeared as a full-page ad in the New York Times and nine other major daily newspapers.

“We Americans of German descent raise our voices in denunciation of the Hitler policy of cold-blooded extermination of the Jews of Europe and against the barbarities committed by the Nazis against all other innocent peoples under their sway,” the declaration began. “These horrors…are in particular, a challenge to those who, like ourselves are descendants of the Germany that once stood in the foremost ranks of civilization.” The ad went on to “utterly repudiate every thought and deed of Hitler and his Nazis,” and urged the people of Germany “to overthrow a regime which is in the infamy of Germany history.” Read more about it here:

Ruth’s family says that “Everyone was equal in the Babe’s eyes – rich or poor, white or black. Living in a time when segregation was a common fact of life, he called many African Americans friends, including Joe Louis and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. He regularly barnstormed during the offseason against Negro League teams and promoted the concept of integrated baseball well ahead of its time. Sadly, it was this open-mindedness, his advocacy for player’s rights, and his general outspokenness, that likely prevented him from fulfilling his other lifelong dream – to manage a Major League Team.”

We at Ciesla, salute Babe Ruth for being a true American Hero and are excited to see him recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his many contributions to American culture.

Leave a Reply