Babe Ruth Didn't Know What His Real Age Was For A Staggering Amount Of Time

Babe Ruth is one of those rare historical figures whose accomplishments are so great that at times it's hard to separate fact from fiction. It's sort of like how many people believe the story of George Washington cutting down his father's cherry tree (the 18th-century version of borrowing your parents' car without asking and then getting in an accident). According to the Mount Vernon website, this is nothing more than a myth that was introduced by one of the earliest Washington biographers, but the anecdote eventually made the leap into reality where many people accept it as fact, a shining example of the virtues of honesty and a cautionary tale about chopping down your dad's beloved cherry tree.

Ruth is the subject of numerous myths, with perhaps the most undying being his famous "called shot." During the 1932 World Series, it's alleged that Ruth pointed to the outfield fence and then proceeded to go yard in the exact spot that he had pointed to. However, according to Bleacher Report, this has been called into question, as footage of the game shows Ruth gesturing and pointing, but it was at the Chicago Cubs dugout, where players were heckling him mercilessly.

However, another Ruth myth is actually true, but it's often believed to be the result of another myth that isn't true. For a good portion of his life, Babe Ruth didn't realize that he was celebrating the wrong birthday.

Babe Ruth wasn't an orphan

It's easy to mistakenly believe that Babe Ruth didn't know his real age. The story was a byproduct of another, false Babe Ruth myth: that the Great Bambino was an orphan. It makes for a great origin story, one in which an orphan comes from almost nothing and goes on to an incredible career in the Major Leagues, but that isn't at all what happened.

According to History, George Herman Ruth — the legendary slugger's given name — attended the St. Mary's Industrial School for Orphans, Delinquent, Incorrigible and Wayward Boys. This would lead many people to assume that this would be why Ruth would be unsure of his exact age, but the truth of the matter is that Ruth wasn't an orphan at all. As a kid, Ruth was a handful, to say the least, and his frequent run-ins with delinquency and his trouble-making frustrated his parents to the point that they threw their hands up and sent him to St. Mary's when he was only 7 years old. Ruth later admitted in his autobiography that he didn't "remember being aware of the difference between right and wrong." Fortunately, Ruth discovered his baseball acumen, something that may have saved him from a vastly different future.

Babe Ruth had the wrong birthday in his mind for decades

So considering that both of Ruth's parents were around for at least some portion of his life, and that most people would consider the birth of their son worthy of committing to memory, or at least writing on a calendar or in a journal, it's shocking that Babe Ruth had his own birthday completely wrong for decades. For most of his life, Ruth believed that he was born in 1894, and celebrated his birthday on February 7. However, he eventually learned that this was incorrect.

The Sultan of Swat was on the back nine of his storied professional baseball career in 1934 when he and some other Major Leaguers were chosen to form an all-star team to tour through Japan. According to the Baseball Hall of Fame, among those included on the all-star roster were future Hall of Famers Connie Mack, Lefty Gomez, and even the Iron Horse himself, Lou Gehrig. Ahead of the trip, Ruth needed to apply for a passport, and part of that process involved providing his birth certificate. However, upon finding his, Ruth was shocked to see that the date of his birth was actually February 6, 1895.

This meant that Ruth was just one day shy of an entire year younger than he always believed he was. However, being in his 30s by the time he learned the truth, Ruth continued to celebrate his birthday on February 7, and never corrected his age, opting to use the age he always thought he was instead of dropping one year.