George Herman “Babe” Ruth was born February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland. What many don’t know (or forget) are his connections to Nova Scotia. His fondness for the province started when he was a student at the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore. There he meet a man named Brother Matthias Boutlier, a native of Lingan. Brother Matthias, as he was known, was the man who taught Ruth how to play baseball. Ruth’s style (including his swing) was modelled after Matthias’. Matthias was Ruth’s mentor and role model during his days at St. Mary’s, which would not end until he signed with the International League’s Baltimore Orioles in 1914. Ruth’s last game would be May 30, 1935 with the Boston Braves. Had Ruth played to the end of the season, he would have been a member of the Braves when they played an exhibition game in Yarmouth.
After his playing days ended, Ruth would visit Nova Scotia frequently. Some highlights of his time in Nova Scotia are:
- There is YouTube video of Babe Ruth (possibly) playing golf at the Ashburn course in Halifax in 1932. Ruth was still with the Yankees in 1932, he must have visited after the season ended (YouTube video). Ruth also golfed at the Digby Pines resort.
- Ruth hunted in the Liverpool area in 1933. An autograph he signed during that trip was recently donated to the Queens County Museum. (CBC)
- Ruth, an avid hunter, hunted in Yarmouth County frequently. A trip in 1935 was chronicled in Outdoor Life. He was so intrigued by the Yarmouth Toller (aka Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever) he brought one back to the United States with him(Yarmouth Villages). During this 1935 trip, Ruth traveled to Halifax via the Annapolis Valley.
- Ruth also hunted in the area that is now Kejimkujik National Park. He and many other wealthy Americans hunted in this area and stayed at Keji Lodge. (Kejimkujik National Park – case study)
- In addition to golfing and hunting, Ruth was also quite the fisherman. One of his favourite fishing spots was the St. Mary’s river, north of Sherbrooke. (Atlantic Salmon Federation)
- In 1936, Ruth hit a home run during an exhibition at Westville, Pictou County. (Town of Westville)
- Ruth attended the opening of the Wanderers Grounds ballpark (which was originally a Navy rec centre) on August 1, 1942. A game between the Halifax Navy and Toronto Navy was interrupted so the Babe could give a hitting exhibition to the 5000 fans in attendance. Legend has it he hit a home run on every swing, but in actually he failed to hit a single ball out of the park. He would however, throw autographed baseballs to the crowd, following this display. (Nova Scotia Spots Hall of Fame)
Ruth would die (throat cancer) on August 16, 1948 in New York City.