Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Babe

In all the hoopla over Barry Bonds and the home run record, it's worth remembering that no modern player comes close to Babe Ruth in terms of overall dominance of the game. In his prime years, Babe Ruth hit more home runs all by himself than any other team in baseball. In 1927, the Red Sox and Senators combined didn't hit as many home runs as Ruth did -- and neither of those teams finished last in the league in home runs. To have that kind of impact today, a player would have to hit 200 home runs a season.

Had he remained a pitcher, Ruth probably could have made the Hall of Fame on that alone. As it was, he set a World Series pitching record that lasted for decades.

And then there was the Ruth charisma: rags to riches, a boy in a man's body, abounding in excess, full of life and charm, the American dream in a pot-bellied package. He was one of a kind, and no number of asterisks will ever change that.


Jay Stevens said...

Well put. My only beef with the post, tho, is that the Babe never played in a league with African Americans. That means he skipped out on facing some of the country's best pitching, not to mention other possible rivals to his HR titles.

If even, say, 1/5 of the era's pitchers were replaced by higher-quality African American pitchers, that might mean a significant difference in Ruth's career stats...maybe...

KIrk Dooley said...

My guess is that had the DH been around in his day, the Babe might've won 400 games (since he would've batted for the other pitchers on the days he wasn't on the mound).

When Ruth hung 'em up (Number 714 was the only batted ball to leave Pittsburgh's Forbes Field by going over the right-field stands), the closest man to him was Lou Gehrig -- who had just over 400 homers at the time.

Records that will never be broken:

Cy Young's 511 wins
DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak
Rogers Hornsby's .424 batting average in 1924
Ty Cobb's .357 career batting average (most players would settle for one season at that average)

Also remember that Bonds has about 75 more dingers to go to catch Sadahru Oh...