On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip burst from nowhere onto the international scene. His potshot at Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the streets of Sarajevo helped launch the Great War and everything else — industrial-scale slaughter, Soviet Communism, Hitler’s Third Reich — that would spring from it.
Two weeks later, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, another rookie made his debut, and he too would have a deep and lasting impact on the 20th century.
It won’t garner the attention that the centennial anniversary of Princip’s performance received. Nevertheless, it is incontrovertible that the appearance of reform-school product George Herman Ruth on a major league baseball field one hundred years ago today marked the beginning of a career that would help define our nation and shape our culture.
Babe Ruth, as everyone knows, turned out to be larger than life, a genuine sports hero, a man with outsized appetites to go with an outsized personality. His exploits both on and off the field inspired such awe that linguists added the term “Ruthian” to our lexicon.