Search Content

Search form

Explore the World of Cigars
Cigar Culture

Babe Ruth & Cigars

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

In the 1920’s, the Roaring Twenties, no one was more famous in America than George Herman Ruth, Jr., better known as Babe Ruth. Ruth was a legendary baseball player, best known for his exploits with the New York Yankees and for hitting 60 home runs in a season well before the so-called “live-ball era.” Here, we recount and celebrate (somewhat) Ruth’s other great talent: Ruth was the greatest baseball player who smoked cigars. Lots of them.

Babe Ruth’s Favorite Cigar

While the name of Ruth’s favorite cigar is not precisely known, Ruth liked to smoke large cigars. After his retirement, in 1935, Ruth endorsed White Owl cigars. It’s unlikely, though, that these mild smokes were the favorite of the Sultan of Swat. He was known to favor large, strong, Cuban cigars. He would smoke four or five an evening, usually “a long 60-cent cigar” remembered teammate Waite Hoyt. Ruth took trips to Cuba for exhibition games and would bring back larger Cuban cigars. The tale is told that he was upset about his trade from the Red Sox to the Yankees because he was fond of a cigar made in Boston named after him. Ruth had a small investment in the company. Ruth was sent to the Yankees after the 1919 season.

Babe Ruth Smoked Many Cigars

By some accounts, Ruth smoked some 20 or more cigars a day. At about 60 cents a cigar, $20 each in today’s dollar, that routine would cost around $400 a day today.

Early Cigar Education

Ruth not only smoked cigars, but he also knew how to roll them, having learned the craft (and how to make shirts) at an early age in reform school in Baltimore. Ruth, it’s told, would occasionally carry a cigar to the plate to take his turn at bat. What’s clear is that he smoked whenever he could and that was pretty much always.

Excess... In Everything

"Ruth was Rabelais," opined the late baseball writer Roger Kahn. (Rabelais was a 15th century French writer of bawdy, grotesque tales.) "Somebody who wanted to drink up all the ale in New York and not let a cocktail waitress pass by untouched. He was a huge, excessive, barely believable fellow. That's the first thing. And then there were the home runs. Not just the numbers of them, but the distance. When he was with the Red Sox, he hit one in spring training in an exhibition game at the Tampa fairgrounds. He hit it out of the racetrack, into a farmer's field, and it stopped in a furrow. Several New York writers got a surveyor's glass and said it had traveled 630 feet. While that distance taxes credulity, [one writer] said he didn't know how far it traveled, but when it came down it was covered in ice."

Ruth, a famously large man, obviously had large appetites. He could scarf down about 12 hot dogs at a time, washing them down with beer. One anecdote, perhaps, explains more about Ruth’s excesses and love of cigars. He often smoked while engaging in other pursuits.

“A teammate named Larry Gardner,” wrote Bill Bryson in his book One Summer: America 1927, “recalled walking into a room and finding Ruth on the floor having sex with a prostitute. He was smoking a cigar and eating peanuts and this woman was working on him.”

Another teammate and former roommate, pitcher Eddie Shore, told the story of Ruth’s prodigiousness. Ruth, Shore said, had smuggled a prostitute into his hotel room during a road trip. Shore had trouble falling asleep, kept awake by “romantic noises,” but he finally fell asleep as the sun was rising. When Shore awakened, he noticed the woman had left. Ruth was still asleep. Shore also saw “four or five cigar butts next to the bed.” He asked Ruth about that. The Bambino reportedly grinned and explained, “Oh, I like a cigar every time I’m finished.”

Related Posts

Cigar Culture
Baseball & Cigar Smoking History

A cigar will last a long time and a baseball game even longer these days, but a great cigar fills the gaps that occur in the game.

Cigar 101
How Many Cigars Should You Smoke a Day?

While there’s not one simple number to throw out, we can easily help you gauge a good frequency based on a few factors...

Cigar Culture
Famous Athletes Who Smoke Cigars

We’ve laid out a handful of the all-stars whose passion for premium cigars is on par with their desire to win...