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Friday, July 11, 2014

100 years ago today-- Babe Ruth's first game

Because its Friday, a lovely summer weekend is approaching and yes even we need a bit of a respite from reporting truthfully how bad things are in the greater and every-day economy..

Well we're going to focus on a more light hearted topic

Today, July 11, 1914, Babe Ruth made his Major League Baseball debut at the age of 19 playing for the Boston Red Sox, starting his career not as a big bopper of homers but as a starting pitcher.

The game was a 4-3 victory for the 'Sawx' over the Cleveland Naps (Named for their manager, Hall of Famer Napoleon Lajoie and later to become the Indians)
The Babe turned out to be a pretty good baseball player for the Sox and ultimately the Yankees  going 94-46 as a pitcher with ERA of 2.28 and more famously as a slugger hitting 714 HR with a career batting average of .342 among other notable accomplishments.

Yep, the Babe was pretty good..

Even so far to say the 2nd best baseball player to ever lace up a pair of spikes with the Greatest being of course being 'Mr Spikes Up to the Opponent's Legs' himself..

The Georgia Peach.. Ty Cobb

A lifetime batting average of .367 including 12 batting titles, hitting over .400 on three separate occasions while getting 4,189 hits, stealing 897 bases and setting 90 records during his career, some still not broken today and selected First to the Hall of Fame, will catapault one to First on a MLB greatness list..
But its funny how people remember Ty Cobb as some kind of monster while Babe Ruth is looked upon as this cheery fat man with a fun loving disposition, when its not the case..

And we don't pretend to hide our dislike of the Babe because the man was nothing like how he was and is depicted today by those with selective agendas..

In his second professional start in 1914, Ruth was pulled after the fourth inning and wouldn’t pitch again for more than a month.  His teammates grew to dislike his crude manner, wild eating habits, and lackadaisical playing style.

Ruth would ultimately be sent back down to the minors for the rest of the 1914 until the final week of the season then traded to New York before the 1920 season as much because he was so disliked in the Sox dugout as any financial reasons by ownership
People love talking about what a fighter Cobb was yet forget to mention the time back in 1917 Ruth threw his fist at an umpire and knocked him down.

It was June 23, 1917, Babe Ruth was on the mound for the Sox at Fenway Park against the Washington Senators.  He threw four straight balls and walked the first batter.

Ruth thought the second and the fourth pitch were both strikes, so he charged the umpire Clarence “Brick” Owens and reportedly yelled at him, “If you’d go to bed at night, you shit, you could keep your eyes open long enough in the daytime to see when a ball goes over the plate!”

Owens didn’t take too kindly to this and told Ruth that if he didn’t shut up and get back to the mound, he’d be thrown out of the game.
Ruth then yelled at him, “Throw me out and I’ll punch ya right in the jaw!”  Owens did so and the Babe kept his word knocking him down..

Ruth was fined $100 (about $1600 today), given a 10 game suspension, and forced to give a public apology which of course was insincere.

Lovers of the Bambino also forget another terrible incident with an umpire, this one on May 25, 1922.

Ruth was called out at second, trying to stretch a single into a double. Being ever the classless pig, Ruth popped up and threw dirt at the umpire’s face.
If that was not enough, when he got back to the dugout, he took umbrage with a fan heckling him about it and ran into the stands to attack him, but the fan managed to outrun the now rotund professional outfielder.

Despite attempting to attack a fan and throwing dirt at an umpire, Ruth was not suspended this time, just given a $200 fine (about $2600 today) and his captaincy of the Yankees was taken away.

And another example of the true Babe Ruth in display occurred on June 19, 1922, when Ruth was thrown out of a game by umpire Bill Dineen.

The next day, with plenty of time to have cooled off, you might think Ruth would have let the incident go.

Instead, during batting practice, Ruth approached Dineen and told him, “If you ever put me out of a game again, I’ll fix you so you never umpire again, even if they put me out of baseball for life!”

This time the prick didn't throw any punches, but the severity of the threat, and the fact that it was premeditated, resulted in Ruth getting suspended five games.

That's a microcosm of the true Babe Ruth..

If one wants to say Ty Cobb was a disturbed man possessed with demons, so was the Babe
But since we need our heroes to be perfect and wearing the proverbial white hat, the focus on the Babe was always his love of food and music and women, and that 'called shot' while little Billy or Jimmy or whoever was lying ill in a hospital..

Heroes are often created fantasies; completely contrived..

And so an inaccurate legend was born and still lives today..

Of course one can only wonder..

If Cobb played for a New York based team and the Babe played for Detroit, would the biased NYC based media of the day have still exalted Ruth the "Tiger" over Cobb the "Yankee"?
Um.. Doubt it..

To finish with a quote..

"The Babe was a great ballplayer, sure, but (Ty) Cobb was even greater. Babe (Ruth) could knock your brains out, but (Ty) Cobb would drive you crazy." - Hall of Famer Tris Speaker