I ask because, 100 years after he first began playing major league baseball and 80 years after he retired, George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth is better known than ever.
That’s due, in part, to a significant new museum wing being opened at Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, this June.
But, Ruth’s name remains top-of-mind because whenever other the monikers of other all-timers (from Joe D. and Willie to Henry and Ty), come up in conversation, Ruth’s accomplishments always dwarf those of his fellow Hall of Famers.
Why? I’ll allow HOF member and current vice chairman of the Hall’s board, Joe Morgan, to explain: ‘Babe Ruth is the best of all-time. But, it’s not just because of the home runs. It’s also because he was one of the best pitchers EVER. People always forget that. When you hit the way he did and pitch the way he did, that makes you the best player of all time in my opinion.’ I agree.
Consider these facts about Ruth’s pitching accomplishments:
- He amassed a pitching record of 94-46 in the big leagues. His 2.28 ERA is the 17th lowest in baseball history.
- In 1916, he pitched nine complete game shutouts, a record that stood until Ron Guidry tied it in 1978
- He set a World Series record that remains unrivalled to this day by tossing all 14-innings in a 2-1 victory over Brooklyn.
- Ruth pitched, and won, the first and fourth games of the 1918 World Series against the Cubs.
- Last, but not least, Ruth tossed 29.2 consecutive scoreless World Series innings, a record that stood until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.
Who else but Ruth can lay claim to being the best pitcher in baseball in one era and the best hitter in another?
When one compares Ruth with legends of other sports, they, too, pale in comparison: aside from Bo Jackson, who briefly played at an all-star level in both pro football and pro baseball, I cannot think of another such dominant athlete (save Jim Thorpe).
It’s nice to know the Babe’s fame (if not fortune) lives on, especially in an era when sports and entertainment ‘stars’ routinely pound their chests and strut their stuff during their nanosecond of fame.
In fact, I’d be willing to wager a bet I won’t be around to collect: in 200 years, more people will remember Babe Ruth than Rihanna, Daft Punk and Katy Perry combined.
And, as Ruth did when he ‘called’ a home run in the 1932 World Series (again against the hapless Cubs), I guarantee it.
Now. Who wants to argue the case?