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Just The Sports: The Truth About Ruth

Just The Sports

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Truth About Ruth

Yesterday, Barry Bonds hit his 714th career home run, tying him with Babe Ruth for second place on the career home run list and unleasing yet another wave of Ruth-is-the-greatest-human-to-ever-live talk. However, Dayn Perry cautions fans against becoming overly sentimental about Ruth and hopefully prevent these fans from Oedipus'ing their eyes when Ruth's name is pushed down another spot on the home run list. Again. For those of you whose eyes glaze over after reading more than two hundred words straight, here are a few nuggets Perry provides in his article.

Among other things, Ruth spent his career in a park that catered to left-handed hitters and inflated his home run totals, his friendship with journalists kept many of his foibles out of the papers, the journalists of Ruth's era were not greatly interested in discovering the truth anyway, he was an alcoholic, his infidelities were more than just a casual pasttime, and he was grossly out of shape for much of his career.

Oh, and for all of you who think Ruth's love for baseball superceded all else, here is an anecdote (not in article) surrounding the real circumstances behind Ruth's trade from the Red Sox to the Yankees. Ruth signed a three year-contract in 1918 for $10,000. After his 1919 season where he posted an OPS+ 119 percent higher than league average, Ruth threatened to hold out if his salary was not increased to $20,000 (T.O. anyone?). This threat came in the face of middling park attendance for the Red Sox franchise so the decision was made by then-owner Harry Frazee to trade Ruth away. However, the decision to trade Ruth had more to do with his personality and the fact the Red Sox were tired of his behavior and his lack of self-discipline than his greed.

What a great guy to worship.


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