As his magnificent playing career was winding down, Babe Ruth was considered for the job of manager of the Detroit Tigers by owner Frank Navin.
Navin requested an interview with Ruth at the end of the 1933 season, but Ruth was away on a vacation to Hawaii and never got back to the Tigers even though he was very interested in the job.
Navin found a practical approach to the Tigers’ leadership problem by hiring Mickey Cochrane as a player-manager. Cochrane led the Tigers to their first American League pennant in 25 years in 1934 but lost the World Series in Game 7 to the wild pack of St. Louis Cardinals known as The Gas House Gang. The next season, Cochrane and the Tigers won the pennant again and went on to win the team’s first World Series championship.
The 1934 season was Ruth’s last as a New York Yankee. He played a shortened season with the Boston Braves the following year, appearing in only 28 games. He later joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as a coach.
Lucky for us Ruth was on a ship headed for the South Pacific when Navin tried to interview him. It is very doubtful that Ruth would have been able to accomplish what Cochrane did for the Tigers. Mickey was a true leader and an incredibly intense player who inspired his teammates and got the best out of them. Ruth, in contrast, was a show-boater with little discipline and was considered offensive by even those who loved him.
Hiring Babe Ruth would have unquestionably altered the history of the Detroit Tigers for the worse. Navin’s move to hire Cochrane instead is arguably the best managerial move in the team’s history.
A fictitious image of Babe Ruth donning the old English D.