A Brief History
On September 30, 1927, the greatest slugger of all time in Baseball History on the greatest team of all time in Baseball History hit his record breaking 60th home run of the season, a record that would stand until broken by Roger Maris of the same New York Yankees in 1961.
George Herman Ruth is arguably the best baseball player of all time, exceptional as a pitcher but probably the greatest hitter ever. His frequency of home runs (a homer every 11.76 at bats) for a career was the all-time best until Mark McGwire (a homer every 10.61 at bats), but then, McGwire is tainted by having admitted to steroid use. Look at Ruth’s numbers: 714 home runs, 2174 runs, 2873 hits, lifetime .342 batting average (know any other big time homer hitters with an average like that?), 2214 RBI’s, and a career slugging percentage of .690 (Ted Williams is next with a .633 slugging percentage.) Compare that to modern sluggers Barry Bonds (#5 on the list) at .607, Mark McGwire (#7 on the list) at .588, and Manny Ramirez (#8 on the list) at .585. Wow!
Incredible as it may seem, Ruth was also a premier left handed pitcher, winning 94 games and losing 46 for a career .671 winning percentage. Ruth’s career ERA was even more incredible, at a low 2.28! (That’s over 1221.1 innings pitched over 163 games, not a one year fluke.) How does a modern great pitcher like Roger Clemens compare? A lifetime .658 winning percentage and a 3.12 ERA, incredibly good indeed, but Ruth compares rather well, demonstrating what we mean about just how good a pitcher he was. In the 1918 World Series, Ruth pitched 29 2/3 scoreless innings, a record that stood until broken by fellow Yankee White Ford in 1961.
The thought of anyone today batting .342 and still regularly leading the league in home runs is fairly unrealistic, but having that same player be one of the best pitchers in baseball as well? Downright fantasy. And to think, Ruth often gorged on hot dogs and beer during games!
Yes, McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 and Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001, but these guys (Sammy Sosa included) were juiced on steroids, as well as playing in 162 game seasons instead of 154 game seasons that Ruth played. At least Maris was not on steroids, but he only had the one big homer producing year.
Babe Ruth is our nominee for the greatest baseball player of all time. Question for students (and subscribers): Who would you nominate as your pick for the best player ever? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Leavy, Jane. The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created. Harper, 2018.