Born George Herman Ruth, Jr. on February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, Ruth was raised by his parents, Kate Schamberger-Ruth and George Herman Ruth, Sr., in a poor waterfront neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. The Babe was one of eight children born to the couple, and one of only two that survived infancy. At the age of 7, the trouble-making Ruth became too much of a handful for his busy parents. Routinely caught wandering the dockyards, drinking, chewing tobacco, and taunting local police officers, his parents finally decided he needed more discipline than they could give him. Ruth's family sent him to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a Catholic orphanage and reformatory that became Babe's home for the next 12 years.
Viewing copies of the U.S. Census Records from 1900 and 1910 seems to really bring the Ruth family to life! You can clearly see the Ruth family below in the images of each of the actual pages recorded by census takers who visited the homes. (highlighted in yellow) Take a look at their neighbors. Perhaps you recognize a name of someone who actually lived down the street. Wouldn't they have loved to know what would be become of the young George Herman Ruth.
Babe Ruth - 1900 Census
The young Ruth is just five years old when this census was taken. Was he already a handful at that age? Just two years later he would be sent to the orphanage. Notice his father's job is listed as a "Lightning Rod Agt". He was selling lightning rods? Notice too, the family down further - "John and Mary Ruth" - George Sr.'s brother perhaps?
Babe Ruth - 1910 Census
By 1910, George Sr.'s job is listed as the familiar tavern owner. Babe Ruth was 15 years old. Interestingly, Babe is listed with his family rather than with the census counts of the orphanage (which is more typical). It is known that Babe lived "on and off" with his parents during his teenage years. Perhaps he was with them again at the time of the census. Or, perhaps he was not actually living there at the time and the census taker was merely told of him as their son.