Babe Ruth (1895-1948), American professional baseball player, one of the most gifted and popular players in the history of baseball. While Ruth was playing for the New York Yankees in the 1920s and 1930s, his legendary home run hitting feats dominated the national pastime. Ruth’s love for baseball, generosity, and dramatic rise from humble beginnings endeared him to fans, and he is one of the greatest sports heroes of American culture. Ruth’s pitching and hitting earned him the devotion of Boston fans, but in 1920 Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth’s contract to the Yankees to cover financial losses sustained in other business ventures. The Yankees paid more than $400,000 in cash and loans. From 1920 to 1934, Ruth played the outfield for the Yankees, headlining some of the greatest squads in the history of baseball. Beloved by the New York fans, Ruth earned several nicknames, including the Bambino (Italian for Babe) and the Sultan of Swat (for his home run hitting ability). In the Babe’s first season as a Yankee, he batted 376 and slugged 54 home runs, almost double his record-setting total of the previous year. The 54 home runs represented 4 more than any other AL team produced in total, and 35 more than his closest individual rival, George Sissler of the St. Louis Browns. As a Yankee Ruth won ten home run crowns and played in seven World Series, with the Yankees winning four of them. His home run production was unprecedented. He hit 41 in 1923, 46 in 1924, and 47 in 1926. In 1927 his 60 home runs in 154 games.
Jack Dempsey (1895-1983), American professional boxer, whose nickname, the Manassa Mauler, is derived from his birthplace and his aggressive style as a fighter. He was born William Harrison Dempsey in Manassa, Colorado. Dempsey became world heavyweight champion in 1919, when he defeated the American boxer Jess Willard. Among his many successful bouts in defense of his title were defeats of the French boxer Georges Carpentier in 1921 and the Argentine boxer Luis Angel Firpo in 1923. In 1926 Dempsey lost the title to the American boxer Gene Tunney In a rematch with Tunney in 1927, Dempsey again lost by a decision; in this famous fight, known as the Battle of the Long Count, Dempsey ignored the rule requiring a fighter to return to a neutral corner during the count after a knockdown. With Tunney knocked to the canvas and down for several seconds, the referee stopped the count until Dempsey reached a neutral corner. Ringside observers claimed these extra few seconds allowed Tunney time to recover and defeat Dempsey. After this loss Dempsey retired. He fought a career total of 69 professional fights, with 47 wins by knockout. With the exception of a lucrative exhibition tour in 1931 and 1932, he did not fight again. An enormously popular figure, Dempsey did much to make professional boxing a profitable and popular enterprise.
Caroline Gertrude Ederle (1906-2003), American swimmer, the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Born in New York City, Ederle began swimming as a young child and started competing as a teenager. From 1921 to 1925 she broke many American and world swimming records. At the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France, Ederle won a gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay and bronze medals in the 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle races. Looking for a new challenge, Ederle turned to channel swimming. After her first attempt to cross the English Channel failed in 1925, she tried again a year later and succeeded. In doing so she also established a record time for men or women. Ederle covered the 56 km (35 m) from Cap Gris-Nez, France, to Dover, England, in 14 hours 31 minutes. The previous record, set by a male swimmer, was 16 hours 23 minutes. The feat made headlines and propelled Ederle to stardom in the United States. She later performed in a vaudeville act and taught swimming to children. Ederle was elected to the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.