Saturdays Suds: Pubs near the Park #8 – George Herman Ruth Saloon / Ruth Cafe

9 05 2015

Next-to-last for Babe Ruth week – here’s a Saturday Suds related to the Babe.  Unlike most of the “Pubs Near the Park” posts that I’ve done, this is not a bar you could find near a MLB park or a restaurant sponsored by a former player.  These are two restaurants / saloons owned by Ruth’s father when the Babe was a kid.

Ruth's Cafe Calendar

Establishment:  Ruth Saloon / Ruth Cafe

Ballpark:  Oriole Park in Baltimore

Location:  406 West Conway St. – directly on the property which is now Camden Yards


Beers served:  Whatever was the preference for working-class folks in the Ridgely’s Delight neighborhood.

Menu (if applicable):  Not sure what Ruth’s family made for fare.  There’s actually not that much known about specifics of the saloon, and, considering Ruth is one of the most famous athletes in history, there is surprisingly little known about his childhood.

Is it baseball-themed?  Or is it just close to the ballpark?   It wasn’t at the time, but Babe Ruth spent some of the time when he wasn’t in reform school there, and the area is now center field at a Major League baseball park.

Description:  What is known is that Ruth was born to George Herman and Katie Ruth in February of 1895.  His father sold and repaired lightning rods until Babe was about 6, when he purchased property to become a saloon keeper.  The family moved above the bar in the Ridgely’s Delight neighborhood, and George, Jr. (the Babe), basically became too much trouble for his father to deal with, and his family sent him to reform school at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys.  This is where Brother Mathias famously introduced the greatest ballplayer of all-time to the game that would make him a national treasure.

George Sr. bought two more saloons in the time that his son was at reform school.  The last one he bought, in November 1905, was the bar at 406 Conway St (corners of Paca and Conway).  He owned the bar for the next 6+ years; center field at Oriole Park sits now where Babe Ruth’s dad once tended bar.  In 1990, when excavation began on Oriole Park, remains from the building were found and you could have purchased bricks from that excavation at auctions over the years.

Ruth plaque Camden Yards

The park has a plaque in the outfield commemorating this, and Ruth has a statue outside.

Babe Ruth statue CYrd  52605

Babe’s father apparently got out of the saloon business for a while, possibly due to losing his liquor license for selling booze on Sundays.  He later got back in when he bought another restaurant on Eutaw Street about 4 blocks north of his old saloon.  His new endeavor was ostensibly assisted with the help of his son, who had become a famous pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.  There’s a famous picture of Ruth with his father taken at this bar, around Christmas time a few years before George Sr. passed away.

Ruth Cafe with Father

That building is still standing, but it’s unfortunately turned into a gentleman’s club.  There are certainly some local watering holes to be found Oriole Park, but those are posts for a different day…




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