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Just Because, Here's Babe Ruth's World War I Draft Registration

Historian Michael Beschloss dug this up yesterday, and it's absolutely worth sharing—and not just because today is the anniversary of Ruth's home run record being surpassed by Hank Aaron.


As America geared up for late entry into World War I, the Selective Service Act didn't exempt anyone from registering—not even a young pitcher for the Red Sox. He listed his address (580 [or 680?] Commonwealth Ave, just a few blocks from the ballpark and now part of Boston University), his trade ("Base ball"), and his place of employment ("Fenway Park").

He also listed his birthdate, but unbeknownst to him, he had both the day and the year wrong. For most of his life Ruth believed he had been born on Feb. 7, 1894. But when he finally applied for a passport, he discovered his actual date of birth: Feb. 6, 1895. He would continue to celebrate his birthday on the seventh .

Ruth was never drafted, though in 1924 he enlisted in the New York National Guard, largely for publicity and photo ops.

It's a fortuitous day to remember Ruth, because 39 years ago today, his longstanding record of 714 home runs was broken. Hank Aaron hadn't been able to finish off the chase the year before, and endured an offseason of hate mail and death threats. He tied the record in the 1974 season-opener in Cincinnati, a series the Braves wanted Aaron to sit out for so he could achieve the record at home. (Commissioner Bowie Kuhn forced him to play in two of the three games.) But in the first game in Atlanta, in his second plate appearance, Aaron hit it into the bullpen in left-center for No. 715.


You've seen the video a million times. Today, enjoy Vin Scully's rarely-heard radio call of the moment.

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