Babe Ruth Field At The Old St. Mary’s Industrial School

One would think that, given how important Babe Ruth is to the sport of baseball, more would made of the fact that the baseball field where Ruth honed his skills as a child still remains to this day a baseball field in an area just west of downtown Baltimore.

The Infield at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

Near the corner of South Canton Avenue and Route 1 just a half mile north of Interstate 95 is a ball field known as “Babe Ruth Field.”

Babe Ruth Field Scoreboard, Baltimore, Maryland

In 2007, as part of my research for Deadball, I visited the site, which at the time was still Cardinal Gibbons High School.  Formerly, the school had been the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, an orphanage and reform school run by the Catholic Church.

Dugout at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

In addition to the cinder block dugouts and the chainlink backstop, one major difference between the field that Ruth played on and the field as it exists today is the orientation of home plate, which in Ruth’s day, was located in what is now centerfield.

Center Field at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Formerly Location of Home Plate

Babe Ruth spent the majority of his formative years as a ward of the school, his parents having signed him over to the Xaverian Brothers out of desperation when he was just eight or nine years old.

Babe Ruth At St. Mary's Industrial School For Boys (Huggins & Scott Auctions image)

Brother Matthias Bouttlier, the school’s disciplinarian,  helped harness Ruth’s natural abilities.

Home Plate at Babe Ruth Field, Baltimore, Maryland

In Deadball, the protagonist, Byron Bennett, then a member of the Cardinal Gibbons varsity baseball team, thinks he sees a game being played on the old St. Mary’s configuration of the field wherein George Herman Ruth hits a home run into the crowd of students sitting beyond right field.

Left Field at Babe Ruth Field, Formerly Right Field

With Cardinal Gibbons High School now closed and the facility no longer in use, the future of Babe Ruth Field is uncertain.  Hopefully the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which owns the field, will continue to preserve the historic ballpark so future generations can stand where the Babe once stood and play ball.

14 Responses to 'Babe Ruth Field At The Old St. Mary’s Industrial School'

  1. Avatar Eddie says:

    I had wondered what became of St Mary’s about 10 years ago. It took some time, but I found an address for it, and got the location on an overhead map, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The main building, the laundry facility with the large smokestack made of brick, everything still standing. Wow! I live in California, I’m retired, and I fly to NY every few years to watch the Yankees. The last time I also went to Baltimore. I walked the grounds as if I owned the place. A team was practicing at the time, but I swear, if no one was there I would’ve been rolling around in the dirt at home plate. I did pull a loose stone from one of the buildings, though.

    • David Stinson David Stinson says:

      Hello Eddie

      St. Mary’s is one of the most important historical baseball sites in the country. It is my hope the Archdiocese of Baltimore finds a way to preserve what is there so that future generations will have a chance to roll around in the dirt at home pate. Of course, if you’re looking for home plate from the time Ruth played there, you would have to head out to what is currently center field.Thanks for sharing your story. DBS

  2. My family just went on vacation in the north east and being huge baseball fans sought out the field. In the book we had that told us where Babe’s St Mary’s school was, said there was a marker indicating the fact that it was Ruth’s former field. My seven year old and I played some catch on the field but never could find a marker. I think now based on seeing the pictures on this site that it was under the scoreboard and now is no longer there. The field looks different now in that it is much more abandoned and no longer being used. I wish I could have seen this page prior to our trip to know about home being at Center field. My son did get a tree limb that was laying there hoping the tree may have been there back in the days of Ruth. 🙂

    • David Stinson David Stinson says:

      Hello Darin

      Thanks for the post. The only marker I recall seeing referencing Babe Ruth was indeed the old scoreboard. The pictures on my author website were all taken several years ago, prior to the closing of Cardinal Gibbons High School. You are correct that the field now not as well kept. I have a companion site which, as a baseball fan, you might appreciate – deadballbaseball.com – which is a now and then site of lost ballparks, plus other places of interest, like St. Mary’s. The entry for St. Mary’s on deadballbaseball.com has more recent pictures and a more in depth look at the buildings that make up the former orphanage and the two buildings of note that date to the time of Babe Ruth. I update deadballbaseball.com on a fairly regular basis, trying to cover all the sites I have been to so far. Please check it out. You might find some lost ballparks sites you want to visit on your next vacation.

  3. Avatar StevenTorrey says:

    I lived in St. John’s School, Deep River Connecticut from 1958 to 1961–I am now 68–soon to be 69–and it’s surprising that the place hasn’t changed a bit. There was a shed in the back field when I was there and it is still there as of this date. Xavier Brothers also founded St. John’s School as an Industrial School. But St. Mary’s Orphanage had 800 residents, while St. John’s School had only 100 residents.

  4. Avatar Paul Rauser says:

    My grandad, of the same name, said he played ball against the Babe at St Mary’s
    when he was young, actually 5 years older than the Babe. He said the kids there at St Mary’s used to throw pebbles at him and his team mates when they were at bat to distract them. He also said that they knew the Babe was going to be go far in baseball because he stood out from the others. However, I never hear what teams played against St Mary’s and nobody in our family can find out, so far, what team our grandad played for at the time.
    Can anybody add to the needed info?
    Thanks,
    Paul

  5. Avatar kathy says:

    My grandfather, William Pindell and his brother, Harvey Pindell entered St Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in about 1899 to 1900 as a result of their Mother dying and their father running away. They were the oldest of five children. We’re told the two younger sisters and the youngest, a boy, ended up being raised by family members. He never spoke about his experience there, except to mention Babe Ruth being there and becoming a famous baseball player. In fact we were told Harvey, my grandfather’s brother, became Babe’s first unofficial catcher. I believer my Pop lived at the orphanage til he was out of high school when he began studying for the priesthood for about three years. He did leave and did not take his final vows. Eventually he visited NYC with a friend and while there, visited his friend’s relative in Hoboken where he met my Grandmother and, as they say, the rest is history. I would love to know more about what an orphan’s life was like living there all those years ago.

    • David Stinson David Stinson says:

      Hello Kathy

      Thank you for sharing your fascinating story about your grandfather and granduncle. Do you happen to have any photographs of William or Pindell taken at the time they would have been at St. Mary’s? If you do and are willing to share them, please let me know. I know of at least one book you might be interested in reading: http://www.amazon.com/Young-Babe-Ruth-Baseball-Xaverian/dp/0786406526. It is the memoirs of someone who attended St. Mary’s soon after Babe Ruth departed.

      DBS

      • Avatar John says:

        Hello, can you direct me to information about a friend of Babe Ruth’s who was named Elmer? I came across an old autographed photo of Ruth and Elmer sitting at Yankee Stadium. Have no idea who “roommate” Elmer could be. Thanks!

  6. Avatar John says:

    Several years ago I took my son to Baltimore and we went to the home where babe Ruth was born and were in the bedroom. We also went to the baseball field. We were being escorted by the principal at the time and the building was empty. In looking at the field it looked different from all the pictures I had seen. I asked the principal and he told me the present field was flipped. In otherwords, the old home plate i now in the original center field. We also spoke about the major fire that was there and some building destroyed. He showed me the area and re-built buildings. I noticed a stone in the flower beds next to the building and was going to take it as a keepsake. When I picked it up I found it was a portion of an old white brick which was part of the old buildings. It has the letters “nal” imprinted on it – (National Brick Co.). He told me I was welcome to take it and it is a treasured piece of memorabilia.

    • David Stinson David Stinson says:

      Hello John. Great post. Thanks very much for sharing. Do you recall what year you visited Cardinal Gibbons HS? The brick is quite a keepsake.

      The Archdiocese of Baltimore recently sold the school buildings and grounds to St. Agnes Hospital, and redevelopment of the site is underway. The structures that date back to Ruth’s days are going to be kept and re-purposed. The field where Babe played is being reoriented back to its original configuration.

      If you are willing, please email me a picture of the brick so I can post it on my site. You can reach me at huntingtonparkdbs@gmail.com.

      DBS

  7. Avatar Jane Leavy says:

    David, can you put me in touch with Kathy?

  8. Avatar Smitty says:

    Want a Over Head View of the old ball park and the stone wall that still is there? Go next door to St. Agnes Hospital across the street,..and take a elevator up to the top floor. You get a good over head view. I know both my kids were born there and I waited in the waiting room while they were being born. So I got a good look at it! Only once in a life time do such super stars shine. Ruth was one of those good ol Boys from Baltimore. And I guess Phelps is the other!….well Baltimore County! 🙂

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  1. […] Joe Kelley, Ned Hanlon, and Wilbert Robinson). Our final stop for the day was the former site of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, where a young Babe Ruth was raised as a ward of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  The historic […]