On April 16, 1935 Babe Ruth returned to Boston as a member of the Braves and began his final season of professional baseball. He did so with a bang, hammering a two-run home run, knocking an RBI single and scoring a run. That was one of the few highlights of his last season as a player in Major League Baseball.
Ruth had spent the preceding 15 years shattering records as a member of the New York Yankees, but at the age of 40, his prime was long past. Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert looked for a way out following the 1934 season and offered Ruth to a number of teams under the guise of fostering the player's desire to become a manager. The Philadelphia Athletics entertained a potential deal but it fell apart when owner Connie Mack balked at having to deal with Ruth's wife, Claire.
Eventually, Ruppert found a taker in Braves owner Emil Fuchs, who believed Ruth could up his team's attendance figures. While the Braves had found some success on the field, fans hadn't been filling the stands. On February 26, 1935, the Yankees released Ruth and he signed a three-year deal with Braves. It was announced he would be named assistant to manager Bill McKechnie and could eventually take over for him.
Ruth wound up back in Boston, where he had played the first six seasons of his career as a member of the Red Sox. His return to the city was highly-anticipated. More than 22,000 fans attended his first game with the team, including five of New England's six governors. Ruth didn't disappoint in his first game, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBI and the aforementioned home run off Carl Hubbell in a 4-2 win over the New York Giants. Despite age slowing him down, Ruth even made an impressive running catch in left field.
The afterglow of the opening game quickly faded. Ruth struggled mightily with the Braves as the season continued. He wound up only playing in 28 games and hitting .181 with six home runs and 12 RBI. He announced his retirement and played his final game on May 30, but he had one last hurrah before stepping away. On May 25, Ruth went 4-for-4 with three home runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While the Braves lost 11-7, it was one final moment of greatness from the Bambino.
The season that started in such promising fashion wound up being a disaster for the Braves. The team finished 38-115 and posted an all-time National League-worst winning percentage of .248. Fuchs was insolvent at the end of the season and the National League was forced to step in and take over the franchise.
Despite his long-time wish to become a manager, it never happened for Ruth. The Brooklyn Dodgers hired him as a first base coach in 1938, but he left at the end of the season when the franchise passed him over for the vacant managerial position. The job went to Leo Durocher and the rest is history.
Ruth's fade from the game is a sad tale. But for one day in April of 1935, he was able to turn in another legendary performance.