Babe Ruth Takes A Bath

March 5th, 2012

Babe Ruth was a frequent visitor to Hot Springs from his rookie season with the Boston Red Sox to his glory years with the New York Yankees. Many ballplayers enjoyed the “boiling baths” while visiting the Spa City but none made the process more interesting, and entertaining, than the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth.

As described by John Kieran in The New York Times on February 16, 1927, it was quite a process:

Clad in a magnificent bathrobe of the dimensions of an ordinary circus tent, the Babe would saunter into the bathing pavilion late in the afternoon. His private attendant would immerse him in a tub of water so hot that Ruth would protest violently and volubly. His protests were stilled by the simple process of making him drink a glass of hot water every time he opened his mouth. He was boiled inside and out.

After the attendant had kneaded the muscles of the submerged hero more hot water was turned into the tub and the Babe resigned himself to being scalded.

That wasn’t the end by any means. The agony had just begun.

At a given signal several hardy helpers would rush in, pull Ruth out of the tub and rush him under what looked to be a shower with a bath curtain. This curtain was looped around the home run hitter, leaving only his head exposed. Then the steam was turned on.

When the Ruthian countenance had turned a delicious lobster pink Joe Bush would stroll up, poke a finger under the curtain and announce: “I don’t think he is quite done. I’ll give that steam valve another turn.”

Finally the steam would be turned off, and Ruth, more dead than alive, would be wrapped in acres of linen and laid on a warm slab to perspire as much as possible. At the end of a half hour the wrappings were taken off and Ruth was shoved under a cold shower.

A visit to the scales on the way out might show that the Babe had lost eight pounds.

“Well I know where to find them again,” was the usual Ruthian remark as the victim strolled off to the supper table.