George Herman Ruth Jr. was born on February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. He was the son of George Herman Ruth, Sr. and Kate (Schamberger) Ruth.
Ruth had a difficult childhood. Both his parents, George Herman Ruth, Sr., and Kate (Shamberger) Ruth, came from working-class, ethnic (German) families. Ruth, Sr. owned and operated a saloon in a tough neighborhood on the Baltimore waterfront. Living in rooms above the saloon, the Ruths had eight children, but only George, Jr., the firstborn, and a younger sister survived to adulthood. Since neither his busy father nor his sickly mother had much time for the youngster, George roamed the streets, engaged in petty thievery, chewed tobacco, sometimes got drunk, repeatedly skipped school, and had several run-ins with the law.