Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
Story Archives: Baseball's biggest star will never die
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|Baseball's biggest star will never die|
Babe Ruth's season record of 60 home runs and his career record of 714 stood for many years. Roger Maris hit 61 homeruns in 1961 to break the Babe's single season record and Hank Aaron followed in 1974 and broke Ruth's career home run record.
We all know of his homerun exploits, but many baseball fans are unaware of his pitching achievements with the Boston Red Sox. Three of his best years were 18-8 (2.44), 23-12 (1.75) and 24-13 (2.05). His career record was 89-46. He held the shutout record for left handers (9) that was tied by Ron Guidry in 1978. He held the record for scoreless innings in a World Series at 29 ¾ until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.
Could the Babe have been as successful a pitcher as he was a hitter? Well, we will never know the answer, but after researching his career, I think he could have been one of baseball's greatest pitchers. Without Ruth, the Red Sox demise of World Series games began. The Red Sox did not return to the World Series for another 84 years.
Ruth signed his first professional baseball contract at age 19. Because 19 was considered a minor at that time, Jack Duncan, the owner of the minor league Baltimore Orioles, became his legal guardian. The veterans on the team began to call Ruth, "Jack Duncan's newest babe." Thus, George Herman Ruth became known as Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth was the most recognizable name in the world during his tenure in baseball.
When Ruth was sold to the Yankees for $100,000, the money was used by the Red Sox owner to finance a Broadway play, "My Lady Friends." The Home Run King was birthed his first year with New York. He hit 54 home runs with a .376 batting average. The Babe changed the face of baseball forever. No wonder it took the Red Sox so long to recover from the dumbest deal ever made in any sport. It wasn't long before Babe Ruth was making more than the president of the United States. He explained this by stating that he had a better year than the president.
We all recognize him as the home run hitter; but when Babe Ruth died, he held 54 major league records. Ruth was selected in 1999 by an ESPN poll as the third greatest athlete in history behind Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. Several polls ranked him as the greatest athlete of all time.
The most fascinating find of my research was information supplied by sports author Bill Jenkinson. "If the ball was hit out of the park fair, but curved after clearing the fence and landed foul, it was not a homerun." Jenkinson wrote that if modern baseball rules would have been established and the old ball parks dimensions were in place when Ruth played that he would have been credited with hitting 104 homeruns in 1921. When Ruth retired with 714 home runs, the closest man to him was 300 home runs behind him.
Ruth averaged 45 homeruns per year, but for five seasons he was a pitcher and he did not play the entire year in several other years. Ruth also had a .342 life time batting average. When Aaron broke Ruth's 714 career home-run record, he had come to bat 3,966 more times than Ruth.
Ruth died at the age of 56, but the biggest legend in baseball will never die. One sports editor said that Ruth was like a Mount Everest in Kansas. He was that rare of an athlete.
Robert Charles Payne is an inspirational writer who lives in West Monroe. He can be contacted by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.