Babe Ruth’s Uncle Killed His Father

Did you know that Babe Ruth’s dad, George Herman Ruth, Sr. was killed in a fight with his brother-in-law Benjamin Sipes? Can’t say that I remember this story either, so we looked into it after coming across the story in The Baltimore Sun.

An article published on August 26th, 1918 details the murder, which happened at the saloon kept by his father at the intersection of Eutaw and Lombard streets.

The fight between Ruth and Sipes occurred Saturday night and was the outgrowth of an argument earlier in Ruth’s saloon between Sipes and another brother-in-law, Oliver Beefelt, 624 North Mount street, who is now on bail charged with criminally assaulting and enticing from her home Emma Stopford, 16 years old, 2921 East Monument street. Ruth was taken to University Hospital, where he died early yesterday morning.

According to Sipes, who is a fireman, he went to Ruth’s place, where his sister, Mrs. Beefelt is living with Mrs. Ruth. He sked to see Mrs. Beefelt to give her some money, as she had recently returned from a sanitarium and he had learned that her husband was not providing for her. When Mrs. Beefelt saw him she began to cry and complained to him that her husband had been ill-treating her.

Sipes says he went into the bar, where he found Beefelt, and took him to task for his conduct toward his wife. There was a heated exchange of words between Beefelt and himself and then he walked across the street to the cigar store of Norval H. Lane.

The story continues, mentioning Babe’s father’s involvement in the fight.

A few moments later Ruth emerged from the side entrance of the saloon and approached him. Sipes said Ruth walked up and hit him on the cheek. He reeled and another blow felled him. While on the pavement, he says Ruth kicked him, but he managed to get up and struck Ruth.

Ruth was on the edge of the curb and, losing his balance, fell backward into the street, striking his head. Several men carried Ruth into the saloon. All efforts to restore him failed. The body was sent to the Morgue, where an autopsy will be performed by Coroner Harry K. Gorsuch, of the Western Police district.

Sipes was arrested by Round Sergeant Davis, Sergeant Glenn and Patrolman Cooney.

The dead man is survived by his wife, Mrs. Martha Ruth, one son, George (“Babe”) Rught, and a daughter, Miss Mamie Ruth.

Babe Ruth and his father at the saloon
Photo of George Sr. (right) and the Babe (center) at Ruth’s saloon. (source: Babe Ruth Museum)