In 1949, a year after the baseball icon's death, Past National Commander James O'Neil presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Babe Ruth's widow, Claire, saying, "In a land where every man has an even chance to make good, success stories have become a rule. Certainly, the big fellow who started out as a tyke in a Baltimore orphanage wrote one of the brightest."

Inning after inning, game after game, George Herman Ruth became a household name starting in 1914 - first with the Boston Red Sox, then 14 years with the New York Yankees, and ending in 1935 with the Boston Braves.

The lefty who hit with a customized Louisville Slugger had 714 home runs to his credit, a record that stood for 39 years before it was broken by Hank Aaron in 1974. The Yankees retired Ruth's No. 3 jersey in 1948, just two months before his death in New York at 53.

At The American Legion's convention the following year, Ruth's contribution to the nation's youth was praised from the dais: "The kids loved Babe Ruth," O'Neil said. "They looked to him for encouragement and example, and he never let them down. In the final accounting, I think that will be numbered the greatest record of them all.

"When his health had failed and time was short, he became a consultant to American Legion Junior Baseball. His finale came where he wanted it: working with kids who meant so much to him, and to whom he meant nearly everything."

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