Babe Ruth’s extraordinary journey from a Catholic reform school in Baltimore to the storied confines of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx made him the idol of a nation. The ballplayer of ballplayers, Babe was also a man who indulged in earthly pleasures, as sportswriter H.G. Salsinger noted, “He could eat more, drink more, smoke more, swear more, and enjoy himself more than any contemporary.” A legendary gourmand, Babe was fond of drinking a quart mixture of bourbon whiskey and ginger ale at breakfast, before attacking a porterhouse steak garnished with half-a-dozen fried eggs and potatoes on the side.
Perhaps no artifact of Ruthiana attests more to his culinary excesses than this desiccated hot dog, partially consumed by the Bambino during an eating binge just prior to his collapse on a train ride in April 1925. Babe reportedly gorged himself on a dozen to eighteen hot dogs before blacking out, and a week later he was at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, undergoing surgery for an intestinal abscess. New York writers termed his illness “The Bellyache Heard Round the World,” but in recent years historians have speculated that Babe actually suffered from gonorrhea and not acute indigestion.