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President Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to baseball legend Babe Ruth, with his grandson Thomas Stevens accepting, at the White House on November 16. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)GETTY
Babe Ruth, the Yankees icon who passed away in 1948, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday at a ceremony with President Trump at the White House.
Ruthled the New York Yankees to seven American League pennants and four World Series championships. He was also a huge fundraiser for World War II causes.
The Medal of Freedom is considered the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“He raised money and raised hell,” Trump said in his opening remarks Friday. “Maybe that’s why it’s taken him a long time to get this award. He should have gotten it a long time ago. I said, ‘Babe Ruth hasn’t gotten it?’ We took care of that real fast.”
“It’s wonderful that he’s finally been recognized, but what the heck took so long?” asked Tom Stevens, Ruth’s grandson.
At the ceremony, Trump went on an extended riff about the trade from Boston that brought Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
“People don’t know that. Babe Ruth was one of the best pitchers. He still has records today,” Trump said. “In 1920, he started with the New York Yankees. And I have heard for many years, what’s the worst trade in the history of sports? Babe Ruth, a 19-year-old pitcher, for $100,000, and a 35-year-old third baseman. That was not a good trade. Who was out of baseball the following season? That was not good. Of course, $100,000 is probably like $25 million today, but it was still a lousy deal.”
“He became the brand of America,” said Michael Gibbons, director emeritus and historian at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore.
“He carried this country on his back during the Great Depression,” said Jane Leavy, author of the Ruth biography “The Big Fella.”