The Babe and the Miraculous Medal
On August 16, 1948, the magazine Guideposts, a non-denominational inspirational magazine, received an autobiographical article written and submitted by Major League Baseball icon and American legend George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr.
In a twist of tragic irony, the same day Guideposts received the article at their office, Ruth died of cancer. The Babe— as he was affectionately called—had composed the article weeks earlier with the help of friends, and it was eventually published in Guideposts in October 1948.
In this, his final message to his adoring fans, Ruth wrote about his troubled youth, his Catholic education, his zeal for life, his faith journey, and how he was introduced to the Miraculous Medal.
Ruth ended his article by detailing his experience in 1946 of facing a difficult surgery and his own mortality*: “In December, 1946, I was in French Hospital, New York, facing a serious operation. Paul Carey, one of my oldest and closest friends, was by my bed one night.
“‘They’re going to operate in the morning, Babe,’ Paul said. ‘Don’t you think you ought to put your house in order?’
“I didn’t dodge the long, challenging look in his eyes. I knew what he meant. For the first time, I realized that death might strike me out. I nodded, and Paul got up, called in a chaplain, and I made a full confession.
“‘I’ll return in the morning and give you Holy Communion,’ the chaplain said, ‘But you don’t have to fast.’
“‘I’ll fast,’ I said. I didn’t have even a drop of water.
“As I lay in bed that evening, I thought to myself what a comforting feeling to be free from fear and worries. I now could simply turn them over to God. Later on, my wife brought in a letter from a little kid in Jersey City. ‘Dear Babe,’ he wrote, ‘Everybody in the seventh grade class is pulling and praying for you. I am enclosing a medal, which if you wear will make you better. Your pal—Mike Quinlan. P.S. I know this will be your 61st homer. You’ll hit it.’
“I asked them to pin the Miraculous Medal to my pajama coat. I’ve worn the medal constantly ever since. I’ll wear it to my grave.”