“I always swing at the ball with all my might. I hit or miss big and when I miss I know it long before the umpire calls a strike on me, for every muscle in my back, shoulders and arms is groaning, ‘You missed it.’ And believe me, it is no fun to miss a ball that hard. Once I put myself out of the game for a few days by a miss like that.”
He was a man beloved. Talkative, playful, full of energy, people said he was a big kid, the kind of person who never grew up. But, as a baseball player, he was mighty, the best of his time, maybe even the best of all-time.
Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1895. A troublemaker as a child, he skipped school, took part in fights, and when his father who owned a saloon wasn’t looking, Babe took swigs of beer. His unruly behavior led his parents to send him to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a reform school, at the age of seven.
At the school Babe found discipline, he found mentorship, and while it’s not entirely clear how he began playing the sport, he found baseball. And in baseball, he found much success. He would go on to stardom in the MLB, playing first for the Red Sox and then for many years with the Yankees, where he set many records, some of which stand today. And for the Yankees, who had never won a title before Babe joined the team, he would lead them to four World Series victories.
After twenty-two seasons, he retired in 1935. He held 56 Major League Baseball records at retirement, including most home runs in a season and most total home runs.
Amongst a number of philosophies he had for life, Babe would say, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”
Albert Einstein struggled to find a job coming out of college. Though his grades were average, he had been a disobedient student, telling jokes and cutting class. His behavior irked many of his professors, but one, in particular, wrote unacceptable references.
Albert’s struggle to find work led his father to write letters to friends asking if they could hire his son. Unfortunately, these attempts didn’t lead to a position.
Eventually, Albert was able to find a job as a patent investigator through a friend. He evaluated patents, learned about some of the latest ideas, and used any free time to work on the scientific research that piqued his curiosity. While success was difficult to come by, within a few years, the research he published while at the patent office would turn out to be some of the most important work the scientific community had ever seen.
Sources: This photograph is of Albert at his patent office desk, taken circa 1905 / Wikimedia Commons/ https://oxsci.org/einstein-at-the-patent-office/ / https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/einstein-the-nobody/
She wore pants. She went to medical school. She treated soldiers for the Confederate Army when she was a surgeon in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. Throughout her life, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker questioned norms and stood by her beliefs, even though often criticized and at times arrested for some of these decisions.
Born in Oswego, New York, in 1832, she was well educated from an early age. Her parents opened a school where Mary and her sisters could receive the same quality education as their brother. It was also the first free school in their town.
Mary became a teacher. She then used funds saved from work to pay for medical school, graduating from Syracuse Medical College in 1855, the only woman in her class. A few years later, during the Civil War, Mary tried to join the Union Army as a surgeon. Rejected because of her gender, she volunteered to serve as an unpaid civilian. Finally, in 1863, her application to practice as a surgeon was accepted. Thus, she became the first female Army surgeon.
For her work in the war, Mary received the Medal of Honor. She would remark about her time, “Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom.” After the war, Mary continued to fight for women’s rights. And to date, she is the only female Medal of Honor recipient in U.S. history.
Hiram Rhodes Revels was known for being a great orator. After a career as a minister and an educator, he entered political life with his election as alderman in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1868. A year later, he was elected to the state senate, where he grew in stature and on February 25, 1870, was selected to complete the term of one of the state’s two seats in the U.S., which had been vacant from the time of the Civil War.
But his election didn’t lead to immediate participation in the Senate. The Senate required an official to be a citizen of the U.S. for at least nine years to take office. Hiram didn’t meet that requirement as the fourteenth amendment was not ratified until 1868. After three days of debate, the Senate decided that he could take the seat. With the completed vote, Hiram became the first Black Congressman in U.S. history.
“A snapshot biography of Hiram Rhodes Revels” sources:
Portrait of Hiram Rhodes Revels taken by Mathew Brady or Levin Handy sometime between 1860 and 1875 / Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Brady-Handy Photograph Collection / Wikimedia Commons
Primus, Richard A. “The Riddle of Hiram Revels.” Harvard Law Review, vol. 119, no. 6, 2006, pp. 1680–1734. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4093530. Accessed April 29. 2021.
Thompson, Julius E. “Hiram Rhodes Revels, 1827-1901: A Reappraisal.” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 79, no. 3, 1994, pp. 297–303., www.jstor.org/stable/2717508. Accessed April 29. 2021.
Hannah Szenes once wrote, “There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”
Hannah was a playwright and a poet, and she was a Special Operations Executive paratrooper for England during World War II, one of 37 Jewish recruits from Mandate Palestine who helped rescue Hungarian Jews facing deportation to Auschwitz.
In 1944, Hannah was arrested at the Hungarian border during a mission. Taken to prison, guards tortured her for, among other information, the code to the transmitter she used for communicating with the SOE. The only information she gave them was her name. Tried for treason, she was executed by a firing squad. Hannah was 23 years old.
Three years earlier, in 1941, Hannah wrote:
so young to die.
No, no, not I,
I love the warm sunny skies,
light, song, shining eyes,
I want no war, no battle cry,
No, no, not I.”
“A snapshot biography of Hannah Szenes” sources: Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary / Hannah Senesh memorial center via Israel Free Image Collection Project / Wikimedia Commons/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Szenes