Babe Ruth Injected Sheep’s Testicles and Shilled for Tobacco

Babe Ruth in action, 1931, at Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland. Photo from Robert F. Kniesche/Kniesche Collection/Maryland Historical Society.

Excerpt from “Welcome to the Terrordome”
by Dave Zirin

“Scientists have attempted to use testosterone to build muscle going back more than 1,000 years, but the modern era of steroids starts in 1889 when prominent French scientist Charles Edouard Brown-Sequard tried to figure out how to increase the strength and mass of workers in the service of the industrial revolution. Brown-Sequard began to inject himself with a liquid extract derived from the testosterone of dogs and guinea pigs. He claimed that the injections “increased [his] physical strength and intellectual energy, relieved [his] constipation and even lengthened the arc of [his] urine.”

“…As the sporting industry exploded in the 1920s, athletic trainers and their charges immediately saw the possibilities of using his research. Even the Big Bambino himself, Babe Ruth, injected himself with extract from a sheep’s , hoping for increased power at the plate (and in the bedroom). He attempted this only once, and it made him incredibly ill; the Yankees covered the story by telling the press that the Babe just had one of his famous bellyaches. Even though the Yankees tend to celebrate all things Babe Ruth, they have never, to my knowledge, had “Sheep Testicles Day” at the stadium.”

Listen to an interview with writer Dave Zirin and read an excerpt from his book — “Sports and Politics Collide in ‘Terrordome’” at NPR.org.

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“Babe Ruth & Tobacco, 1920s-1940s”

By Jack Doyle (The Pop History Dig, 9/25/2010)

This advertisement of Babe Ruth and his wife Claire, singing the praises of White Owl Cigars, appeared in the ‘L.A.Times” newspaper, Dec 1938, and likely other publications as well.

Shown at right is a 1938 Los Angeles Times newspaper ad for White Owl cigars. Featured in this ad is the venerable New York Yankee baseball slugger of the 1920s, Babe Ruth, along with his wife, Claire. This famous pair is making a joint pitch for White Owl cigars. No, Claire didn’t smoke them, but she’s lending her approval in this ad in another way. More on that in a moment.

Babe Ruth by this time was retired from active play, having made his last pro- fessional appearance with the Boston Braves in May 1935. His celebrity, how- ever, was still very much intact, and remained so for a number of years beyond his playing days. His image and endorse- ment were sought by numerous interests, many wanting him to pitch their products directly.

In this ad, the central message from White Owl cigars is printed in bold just beneath the photo of the happy couple: “Mr and Mrs. Babe Ruth both agree on this Vintage Cigar.” The ad also uses the “Happily Married” tagline above the main photo, inferring that White Owl Cigars somehow contribute to marital bliss.

Continue reading “Babe Ruth & Tobacco, 1920s-1940s” and other Babe Ruth stories at The Pop History Dig.

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3 Responses to Babe Ruth Injected Sheep’s Testicles and Shilled for Tobacco

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