June 13, 1948 was the 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium and the franchise’s first World Series title. Babe Ruth was on hand for the celebration in what would be his last appearance at the stadium. The iconic photograph from that day (above) is the most widely circulated and most well known sports images of all time, eventually winning the Pulitzer Prize.
In front of 49,641 fans, the surviving members of the 1923 team, the first to play at the stadium, were introduced. Ruth was introduced last and came out to thunderous applause. By this time, the Bambino was a shell of his former self. He had lost so much weight due to throat cancer that he had difficulty walking and had to use a bat as a cane.
The team would not only celebrate the House that Ruth Built, but the man who made it famous by retiring number 3 from service. Ruth would join his good friend Lou Gehrig’s number 4 as the only two numbers retired by the team.
The King of Crash retired as the career record holder in: home runs (714) RBIs (2214) total bases (5793) walks (2062) on-base percentage (.474) slugging percentage (.690) and on base plus slugging (1.164) as well as the single season record holder in home runs, total bases, walks and slugging. His career SLG, OPS and OPS+ remain the record to this day.
The Bombers honored their greatest player by beating the Indians 5-3 that day. The Sultan of Swat would pass away just two months later.