The Truth About Babe Ruth's Surprising Diet

To call Babe Ruth "Bunyanesque" would exaggerate the stature of Paul Bunyan. Ruth was such a towering figure that during WWII, Japanese soldiers yelled, "To hell with Babe Ruth" when charging American troops, per ESPN. His Boston Red Sox teammate, Harry Hooper, watched him with awe, remarking, "I saw a man transformed into something pretty close to a god." By the end of his legendary run, Ruth held an insane 56 MLB records. He was the first player to hit 30, 40, 50, and 60 home runs in a season. He also held the record for most career home runs for close to 40 years (via History).

Ruth was so athletically gifted that Columbia University researchers studied him. As Popular Science describes, "Ruth the Superman" had faster-than-average eyes and ears and above-average brainpower. His neurons presumably fired faster than a speeding bullet, and if he wasn't more powerful than a locomotive, he at least hit like a freight train. But his most superpowered organ was arguably his stomach.

Harry Hooper, who likened Babe Ruth to a god, also thought the Sultan of Swat had god-awful eating habits. According to Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox, Hooper said, "Lord, he ate too much. When we were traveling, he'd stop and order half a dozen hot dogs and just as many bottles of soda pop, stuff them in one after the other, and then give a few big belches. That would hold him for a couple of hours." And that wasn't the half of it.

Babe Ruth really stepped up to the dinner plate

When Babe Ruth wasn't inhaling hot dogs, he was gobbling up cold beef. While visiting manager Jack Barry, he insisted on devouring raw hamburgers. The Boston Post reported that according to Ruth's wife, almost every day, he ate "two-and-a-half pounds of rare beef steak" with a whole bottle of chili sauce. Having an audience only egged him on, writes Marshall Smelser in The Life that Ruth Built. During a six-hour outing in New York, Ruth had two massive dinners with two gigantic snacks in between. Each dinner consisted of two porterhouse steaks, a double-order of cottage-fried potatoes, two heads of lettuce, and two apple pies a la mode. Both "snacks" were made up of four hot dogs and four bottles of Coca-Cola.

Ruth's super stomach could also be his kryptonite. As the Los Angeles Times details, authors Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo allege that he often indulged in a dozen hot dogs and a half gallon of soda as a pregame meal during his time in Boston. One day, his mouth stepped up to the plate and swung for the fences, but his stomach cried foul. He was rushed to the hospital with a severe case of indigestion.