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Come To Think Of It...Babe Ruth Was The Greatest of All-Time

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IMarch 2, 2008

Maybe you would add some other players to the debate, guys like Ted Williams, A-Rod or someone else. But for argument sake, I am limiting this discussion to four great players: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.

And, for the time being, we are going to judge Bonds’ career without prejudice, meaning no ‘roids will factor into the debate. Based on subjective and objective reasons, I say that Babe Ruth was far and away the best baseball player of all-time, hands down. No one is even close. That’s right, and here are my reasons.

First of all, many times you hear the foolish argument that Babe Ruth played in a different time, a time when there weren’t black ballplayers, so his accomplishments were watered down and shouldn’t mean as much. Well, you know what? That is insulting to white people everywhere.

Imagine if someone said that the Negro league players were no good because they didn’t play against white players? That guys like Satchel Paige don’t belong in the Hall of Fame because much of their success came in a league in which white talent wasn’t involved? That would raise an uproar in the black community, wouldn’t it?

Well, why is the argument justified when it’s turned the other way? Listen, Babe Ruth could have hit home runs against anybody, black, white, red or yellow. He was so naturally strong and gifted; there would have been nothing guys like Bob Gibson could have done to hold him down.

Next, consider the statistics. Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs.  Now I know that Aaron and Bonds hit more, and Mays came close with 660, but Ruth did it in far fewer at-bats.

Ruth had 8,399 at-bats to Bonds 9,847, Mays 10,881 and Aaron a staggering 12,364! And, his lifetime batting average was .342, with an OBP of .474.  Bonds’ career BA is .298, Mays .303 and Aaron .305. Not even close.

In other sports, like the NBA and the NFL, we often judge the greatest based on number of titles won. Well, this is an area where Babe has them all beat too. His Yankee teams were dominant; the ’27 Yankees are often considered the greatest of all time.

Bonds has never played on a championship team.

But even if all this dominance doesn’t impress you, how about the fact that Babe Ruth was a great pitcher as well? Now here is one differentiating factor that none of the other ballplayers can claim.

Ruth had an astounding career record and ERA as a starting pitcher before he devoted himself to hitting full-time. He won more World Series games as a pitcher than the other guys did as hitters. There’s little doubt that he could have gone on to a HOF career as a pitcher even if he had never picked up a bat.

And Babe was larger than life. His personality filled ballparks. His allure was astounding. In fact, to this day, kids know his name and his place in baseball history. No one could compare with the Babe when it came to selling the sport. And he was out of shape.

In his day there were no personal trainers, guys didn’t lift weights, and players couldn’t afford home gymnasiums. Imagine what Ruth could have done given the amenities available to players today?

Now, I’ll admit that Bonds and Mays were better defenders in their prime, and Aaron by all accounts was slightly better than league average as an outfielder. And they were faster and stole more bases. But when you add up the advantages in batting average, pitching capability and slugging, there was no one better than the Babe.

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