Henry Ford was an American inventor who is credited with inventing the automobile assembly line. German automaker, Karl Benz, is credited with inventing the first motor vehicle in the late 1880s, but Ford was the man who made it possible for everyday citizens to own one. Before Ford came up with his assembly line process, cars were built one at a time by hand, which was a very costly and inefficient method of production. Ford's assembly line revolutionized the way cars were built, and his methods are still in use today.
In 1886, Benz patented his Motorwagen, which was a four-wheel, two-passenger, self-powered motor coach that was designed to replace the horse and carriage. These vehicles were expertly crafted, but were available to only the wealthiest people of the time. Thanks to Ford, that all changed in 1906. His Ford Motor Company, the first automobile company to use assembly line techniques to build cars. transformed the automobile from an expensive curiosity to a practical tool that could be used to transport people and goods easily and efficiently. His first mass-produced product was the Model T. It remains one of the most sold vehicles ever, and was the first to reach 15 million sales.
Ford's impact on the 20th Century cannot be overstated. At one time it was estimated that nine out of 10 vehicles on American roads were Fords. His cars spurred the American economy like no other single factor. The country's roadways were built in response to the great number of vehicles Ford and subsequent American automakers produced. Additionally, Ford's vehicles created a network of support industries such as parts, repair, and maintenance services. It also caused a revolution in how goods were transported in the country. Henry Ford was a true American icon.
Arguably the greatest Major League Baseball player of all time is George Herman Ruth. The "Babe," as he was known, is largely responsible for building the game as it exists today. The stadium where he played in New York is commonly called "The House that Ruth Built." Ruth played baseball for 22 years for the Boston Red Sox, and the New York Yankees, where he rewrote the record books. He almost single-handedly invented the home run, which is baseball's most cherished feat. Before Ruth, the home run was a novelty. It was a game of strategy, but the Babe changed all that.
Ruth was born in a rough section of Baltimore, Maryland in 1895. Much of his childhood has been lost to history. He spent a number of years at St. Mary's reformatory school after being labeled as "incorrigible." His behavior was thought to be beyond rehabilitation. When exactly he got his start in baseball is also a mystery. Some accounts offer that he was placed on St. Mary's baseball team by the coach of the time. One popular story has Ruth being sent to the school because of his natural ability to hit a baseball. The story is that Ruth broke many windows while playing baseball on the streets, and that is why he was sent to the school in the first place.
Before the 1920s, baseball was a slow game that included advancing players around the bases by strategically hitting the ball within the park. Ruth came in and was soon hitting balls out of the ballpark to the delight of the fans in attendance. The home run became an integral part of the game. Ruth earned several nicknames because of his power, including the "Bambino," and the "Sultan of Swat."
When Ruth was traded by the Red Sox to the Yankees in a very unpopular move, the Yankees won seven World Series championships in his 12 years. Ruth made headlines for his after-hours antics in New York City as well. His drinking, and womanizing are well-documented. However, Ruth was a spiritual man who lived-out his years as a devout Catholic.