After a storied career spent primarily with the New York Yankees, famed slugger Babe Ruth made his coaching debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 19, 1938. He was hired by Dodgers executive vice president Larry MacPhail to coach first base and hopefully light a spark for the team.
The Dodgers were a subpar 22-31 when Ruth signed his contract on June 18 of that year, and were struggling to draw fans in a competitive market that included the Yankees and Giants. Ruth had largely remained out of the public spotlight upon retiring after the 1935 season.
He had visions of becoming manager of the Yankees but was passed over as player-manager in favor of Joe McCarthy ahead of the 1931 season. Ruth made his coaching debut with a doubleheader but his overall time with the Dodgers was largely unassuming.
Anecdotes detail Ruth’s interest in relaying signs as non-existent. He was ejected from an August game due to arguing a call with a first-base umpire.
Ruth’s arrival did improve attendance but the team’s play largely remained the same. They went 47-49 after he joined the coaching staff and finished 11 games below .500. Brooklyn went 16-13 in July, which was just one of two winning months that season.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 28, 2014
Off the field there was the infamous scuffle between Ruth and team captain Leo Durocher who was being groomed to replace Burleigh Grimes as manager. Tension between the two dated back to their time as teammates on the Yankees.
Their dispute while with the Dodgers is believed to have stemmed from Ruth calling a hit-and-run with Durocher at the plate. Although Durocher delivered a game-winning hit, he was upset with Ruth’s call in extra innings.
When Durocher was named manager of the Dodgers ahead of the 1939 season, he predictably did not include Ruth on his coaching staff. Although Ruth’s time with the Dodgers was short-lived, the club remembered it by releasing a bobblehead in his honor during the 2014 season.