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How to Win

Babe Ruth as a Role Model

No one I know thinks of Babe Ruth as an intellectual giant. Ruth, born on this date in 1895, partied his way through life, going for all the gusto he could. He lived that way both on and off the field.

“I hit big or I miss big,” he once said. “I like to live as big as I can.”

Yet when it came time to give his Hall of Fame speech, Ruth showed a simple and profound eloquence. He began by acknowledging the game’s younger players, with the hope that they, too, would reach the Hall one day.

He mentioned his fellow Hall of Famers, and how hard they worked at their craft. He touched on the role of work in his own life, and expressed the hope that the younger players would work that hard, too.

Ruth even showed a reverence for history, by noting his own debut in the big leagues, which had come nearly 25 years to the day before his speech.

Yesterday’s post mentioned the role that New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter played in helping Giants quarterback Eli Manning ease into the pressure of New York. A few words of encouragement from his role model made all the difference to Manning, who has now led the Giants to a pair of Super Bowl wins.

Ruth, it turns out, was highly conscious of his status as a role model to many, and he took it seriously. He wasn’t always a model citizen, of course, and the press of the day gave him a  pass on many of his foibles.  Still, this speech, which I had never seen or heard of, shows me a side of Ruth to really appreciate.

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