Play Ball, Young Fellow!

by Al Pastor

To his eternal regret, Babe never got to manage. I found this copy in the Ward collection at the Stark Center (

Play Ball, Young Fellow!

Just in time for the playoffs, the Babe offers stellar words of wisdom in getting busy with some young aspiring fellows. It’s all in the softcover pages of the wonderful Babe Ruth’s Baseball Advice  (1936). A copy was sitting on a circulation cart at The Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at the University of Texas. Babe sports his Yankee road uniform. He touches all the bases, devoting a page to fielding each position, with some additional fundamentals. How much input he had is anyone’s guess, perhaps not much. His skills at a low ebb, his playing days had come to an end. The photos are splendid. Understandably, signed copies go for impressive sums. Babe poses in various paternal instructive poses with the young men. I very much enjoyed the preamble, “General Advice,” reprinted below. How nice. Someone of Babe’s stature begins his overview of the game emphasizing those quaint old fashioned sporting virtues of decency and fair play.

Play Ball, Young Fellow!

No advice on baseball would be complete without mentioning the things which a boy owes to himself, to his team, to his opponents, and to those who handle the important and difficult work of umpiring.

Briefly, these things are:

Play hard all the time, no matter what the score may be.

  1. Follow the orders of your captain or manager, whether or not you agree with his judgment.
  2. Observe all the rules of fair play by playing cleanly.
  3. Don’t abuse the umpire, or umpires.
  4. Be a good loser, if you have to lose.

Some boys, and men as well, are good ball players when their team is out in front and everything is going well. A hit or two will make some fellows play brilliantly in the field. But often, when a player is unable to get a hit, or if his team is behind, he becomes discouraged and plays as if he doesn’t care what happens. That’s not fair to the other members of the team who are doing their best to win, and who are still hustling in spite of the score, or in spite of what may have happened in the game. No game is won or lost until the final out in the ninth inning, and there is no rule limiting

the number of runs a team may score in any inning. Don’t quit on yourself or your team. Real players never do.

[You tell ‘em, Bambino!]

Every team has a captain or a manager to direct it. One leader must map out the plan, and he usually is the one best fitted for that work. He ahs to guess in advance as to what play is the best one to try. He cannot always guess correctly, but neither could you. Work with your team leader, play as he wants you to play, and though he may be incorrect in his judgment, if you have given him your best efforts, he will not blame you. Team play is needed for success and the way to be a real help to your team is to co-operate with your fellow players.

Play cleanly all the time. Never try to cause injury to an opponent. A player who attempts such things is not worthy of playing the game.

Be a good sport when you don’t agree with the umpire’s ruling. When you are greatly interested in a close play you are likely to see it a little differently from the fellow who is doing his best to be fair to both sides. If you were satisfied to let him be the judge when the game started, you should be willing to accept his decisions until the last man is out. Remember that the umpire has a harder job than any of the players.

No game was ever won by both teams. One of them must lose. If you play hard and clean baseball, and are fair to yourself, your team, your opponents, and the umpire, you need not be downhearted over defeat. If the other team wins, be a good loser, and give it the credit you expect for your team when it wins.  -30-


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