Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig take batting practice in 1930
By Dan Holmes February 1, 2019
What did Babe Ruth look like at the plate? What sort of swing did he have?
How powerful was Lou Gehrig at the plate? What did his swing look like?
We can answer those questions through this remarkable video taken by a film crew at Ebbets Field in the spring of 1930.
(This video hosted on YouTube is titled “1931” but it actually is footage from 1930.)
A few notes:
(1) the BP pitcher is pretty bad, it looks like at least half the pitches are out of the strike zone
(2) the lefthander who is furiously warming up in the background early in the video is Frank Barnes, he’s wearing #32 and no one who played for the Yanks in 1931 wore #32, which means this is 1930, not 1931.
(3) the coach hitting fungos is Jimmy Burke, a longtime friend of manager Joe McCarthy who played for a few years in the deadball era. Burke was fired after the ’31 season but was asked back a year later, unfortunately he suffered a stroke and his long baseball career was over
(4) it’s notable how much Ruth and Gehrig move their feet in the batters’ box as compared to modern hitters. It was more common back then to adjust your swing based on where the pitch was, to make contact. Gehrig for example, takes several short steps on certain pitches adjusting the angle of his body to impact which way he wants to hit the ball. Today, of course, batters never do this.
(5) Jimmie Reese (#25) warms up on the sidelines behind Gehrig and Ruth briefly. Reese spent 77 years in baseball as a player and coach. He was still coaching in 1994 when he was 92 years old.
Dan Holmes is an author and baseball historian. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Major League Baseball. He once defeated George Brett in Texas Hold Em poker and faced Phil Niekro's knuckleball. He has two daughters and he writes regularly about baseball and many other topics.