Ninety-nine years ago today, Babe Ruth made his debut as a Major League player, stepping onto the field of Fenway Park as a Red Sox pitcher. He helped the team win the game, but that was not enough to impress the hard-nosed Red Sox: Ruth was optioned to the Providence Grays, a minor-league farm team, after one season.
The demotion was short-lived: He re-joined the Sox as a starting player in 1915 and played in two World Series with the team. But the Sox traded him to the then unsuccessful New York Yankees in 1920, and the Curse of the Bambino was born: The Red Sox would not win another World Series until 2004.
With the Yankees, Ruth achieved a record 60 home runs, a record batting average and played in seven World Series championships. Wildly popular, he was a brash, bold player, heavy at bat and a character on and off the field, earning him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame and as an American folk legend.
Babe Ruth (right) at a baseball game in Baltimore, Md., circa 1912. (Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
Babe Ruth, Ernie Shore, Rube Foster, and Del Gainer rest on the edge of their dugout during a game at Fenway Park, Boston, circa. 1915. (Corbis)
Babe Ruth smokes a pipe as he plays a piano while his wife, Helen Ruth, stands next to him, 1910s. (Keystone/FPG/Getty Images)
Babe Ruth poses outside the dugout for a photo, before a game in what looks like Griffith Stadium in Washington in 1919. (Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for a fan at League Park in Cleveland before a game in 1923. (Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
Babe Ruth takes a big swing during a batting practice session before a game in 1921 at the Polo Grounds in New York City. (Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
Babe Ruth poses with wife Helen and baby Dorothy before a game at Yankee Stadium in 1921. (Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
Babe Ruth throws his Babe Ruth candy bars to the fans sitting in the outfield in Yankee Stadium before a game in 1922. (Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
Babe Ruth shakes hands with the 29th president of the US, Warren Harding. After the handshake Babe Ruth hit a home run to help his team, the New York Yankees, win the third game of the series against the Washington Senators in 1924. (Keystone/Getty Images)
Youngsters lend an ear to Babe Ruth as he tells them stories of his life from orphanage to baseball fame, Nov. 29, 1924. (AP Photo)
Babe Ruth with the winners of the Syracuse Herald contest on Oct. 5, 1928. (Bettmann Archive/Corbis)
Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees hits his 60th home run of the season against Washington Senators pitcher Tom Zachary and sets a record that will last 70 years, Yankee Stadium, New York, Sept. 30, 1927. (B. Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Yankee baseball players, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, circa 1930. (MPI/Getty Images)
Babe Ruth slides safely past the Detroit Tigers catcher Ray Hayworth during a game at Yankee Stadium during the 1934 season. This was the last full season that Ruth played. (Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
Babe Ruth, dressed in his old New York Yankees number, #3, waves to the crowd during a reunion of Yankee All-Stars at Yankee Stadium, New York, N.Y., June 16, 1948. Ruth, suffering at the time from cancer and using a baseball bat as a cane (barely visible behind him), died two months later. (Keystone/FPG/Getty Images)