Babe Ruth was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He was a legend both on and off the field, setting many records and captivating the fans with his charisma and personality. He was also known for his unique habits and traditions, some of which were related to his performance and some of which were just for fun. One of the most curious habits that Babe Ruth had was keeping cabbage leaves under his baseball cap during hot summer games. Why did he do this? How did it help him? And what did others think of it? This article will answer these questions and provide some historical context for this unusual practice.
Heat Issues During Baseball Games
Baseball is a sport that is played outdoors, often in the summer months when the weather can be very hot and humid. This can pose a challenge for the players, who have to exert themselves physically and mentally for several hours. In the early 20th century, when Babe Ruth played, the situation was even worse. There was no air conditioning in the stadiums, and the uniforms were made of heavy wool that trapped heat and sweat. The players had to cope with dehydration, exhaustion, sunburn, and heatstroke. Many players resorted to drinking alcohol or chewing tobacco to cope with the heat, but these substances only made them more dehydrated and impaired their performance. Some players even collapsed or died from heat-related illnesses.
Babe Ruth was especially vulnerable to the heat, as he was a large man with a lot of body fat. He also played in New York, where the summers were notoriously hot and humid. He needed a way to stay cool and comfortable during the games, without compromising his skills or stamina. He found a solution in an unlikely place: the vegetable aisle.
The Unusual Habit
Babe Ruth’s unusual habit of keeping cabbage leaves under his cap was first reported by a journalist named Fred Lieb in 1924. Lieb wrote that Ruth would go to a nearby grocery store before the game and buy a head of cabbage. He would then peel off a few leaves and put them in a bucket of ice water in the clubhouse. During the game, he would periodically change the leaves under his cap, replacing the wilted ones with fresh ones from the bucket. He would also squeeze the cold water from the leaves onto his face and neck, creating a cooling effect.
Babe Ruth claimed that this method helped him stay cool and refreshed during the hot summer games. He said that the cabbage leaves acted like a natural air conditioner, lowering his body temperature and preventing heat exhaustion. He also said that the cabbage leaves had a pleasant smell and taste, unlike the sweaty wool of his cap. He believed that this habit gave him an edge over his opponents, who were suffering from the heat and fatigue.
The Science Behind the Habit
Babe Ruth’s habit of keeping cabbage leaves under his cap may seem strange, but it actually had some scientific basis. Cabbage leaves are composed of mostly water, which has a high specific heat capacity. This means that it takes a lot of energy to change the temperature of water, and water can absorb or release a lot of heat without changing its own temperature much. By putting the cabbage leaves in ice water, Babe Ruth lowered their temperature to near freezing. When he put them under his cap, the cold water transferred heat from his head to the leaves, cooling him down. The evaporation of the water from the leaves also created a cooling effect, as it required heat from his body to change from liquid to gas. This is the same principle behind sweating, which is the body’s natural way of cooling itself.
Babe Ruth was not the only person to use this method of cooling. In fact, he may have learned it from someone else. Some sources suggest that he got the idea from a teammate named Wally Schang, who was a catcher and wore a heavy mask and chest protector. Schang also used cabbage leaves under his cap to stay cool. Other sources suggest that Babe Ruth got the idea from a boxer named Jack Dempsey, who was a friend of his and used cabbage leaves under his gloves to prevent his hands from swelling. Cabbage leaves have also been used for centuries as a folk remedy for various ailments, such as inflammation, wounds, bruises, and headaches. They have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and analgesic properties, which may explain why they were effective for these purposes.
The Impact of the Habit
Babe Ruth’s habit of keeping cabbage leaves under his cap had a noticeable impact on his performance and reputation. He was able to play at a high level despite the heat, and he often hit home runs and won games for his team. He was also able to entertain the fans with his antics, as he would sometimes throw the cabbage leaves into the stands or eat them after the game. He became known as a colorful and eccentric character, who had a flair for the dramatic and a sense of humor. He was admired and loved by many, and he became a symbol of the American spirit and culture.
However, not everyone was impressed by Babe Ruth’s habit. Some of his opponents and critics thought that he was being disrespectful and unprofessional, and that he was making a mockery of the game. They also thought that he was cheating, as he was using an unfair advantage over the other players. Some even accused him of being a drug addict, as they thought that the cabbage leaves were laced with cocaine or some other stimulant. They tried to discredit him and tarnish his image, but they were unsuccessful. Babe Ruth was too popular and too talented to be brought down by his detractors.
Babe Ruth was a remarkable baseball player and a fascinating person. He had a unique habit of keeping cabbage leaves under his cap to stay cool during hot summer games. This habit helped him perform better and enjoy the game more, and it also added to his charm and personality. He was a pioneer and an innovator, who used his creativity and intelligence to overcome challenges and achieve greatness. He was also a legend and an icon, who inspired generations of fans and players with his skill and spirit. He was, and still is, the Babe.