A century ago in spring training, a rawboned Orioles rookie stepped to the plate, swung from the heels and hit a fastball deep to right field. The ball landed in a rut in a cornfield, more than 400 feet from home plate.
In Fayetteville, N.C., a historic marker notes the spot where George Herman Ruth, 19, hit his first professional home run in his first outing as an Oriole in 1914. He wasn't yet The Babe — teammates would pin that nickname on him within the month — but he surely was Baltimore's own.
That Ruth began his career with his hometown team surprises many, sports historian Mark Millikin said.
"People talk about Ruth with the Boston Red Sox and New...