Athletes Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Manasvi Chandra, Writer

President Trump recently awarded the presidential medal of freedom, which is considered the nation’s highest civilian honor, to former MLB player Babe Ruth, former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach, and former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page.

Ruth was born as George Herman Ruth, Jr. in 1895. He became passionate about baseball when he was sent by his parents to a boys school run by Catholic monks. Ruth was so impressive while playing that Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, came to watch him play and offered Ruth a contract at only age 19. Ruth got his famous nickname “Babe” when people referred to him as “Jack’s newest babe.” Ruth played well for the Orioles, and then transferred to the Boston Red Sox. After playing a few games for the Red Sox, he played for its minor league team as a result of a loaded roster. Although Ruth is known for his batting, he started out as a pitcher until his team realized that his batting was too good to be excluded from the lineup. Then, in 1919, he was drafted to the New York Yankees. He broke record after record and gained lots of attention for himself and for the Yankees. The Baseball Hall of Fame was established in 1936, and Ruth was one of the first to be honored there. A malignant tumor was discovered on his neck in 1946, and he died of cancer two years later, at the age of 53.

The second recipient of the medal was Staubach, who first played as quarterback at the U.S. Naval Academy. He spent four years on active duty after graduating before he turned his attention to pro football. He joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1969 at age 27 and played as the quarterback for all 11 seasons of his career. He was labeled as the MVP of Super Bowl VI and helped guide his team to victory in Super Bowl XII.

Last but not least, Page is another recipient of the presidential medal of freedom. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1967 at age 22. He earned the Rookie of the Year award that year and later helped lead the Vikings to Super Bowl appearances four times. Furthermore, he was named an All-Pro for eight consecutive seasons. The NFL named him its league MVP in 1971, becoming the first second defensive lineman to win the award. The Vikings released Page in 1978 because they felt that he had lost too much weight to be an effective defensive linebacker. However, the Chicago Bears quickly signed him on, and he spent the last years of his football career with that team. Even as a football player, Page had been thinking about a career in law. Consequently, in 1985, four years after his retirement from football, Page joined the Minnesota attorney general’s office. Since then, he has been advocating for children’s rights throughout his law career.

These athletes have truly worked hard and deserve the recognition that they have gotten.

Photo courtesy of TIME.COM, NPR.COM, and NBCDFW.COM