Numbers tell a story, the saying goes. And the story they told on Labor Day 2014 — again — is what a remarkable baseball player Babe Ruth was.
I didn’t say hitter. I said, baseball player.
Baseball aficionados — and this seems to be a fading category — know that George Herman Ruth originally was a pitcher, and a very good one, with the Boston Red Sox, before the historic transaction that sent him to the New York Yankees in time for the 1920 season. And everyone knows about his home runs.
Well, on Monday, consider:
- Adam Dunn homered in his first game with his new team. Only a few players with at least 450 career homers have done that. One was Ruth, who did it for the Boston Braves in 1935, his final season.
- Cole Hamels and three Philadelphia relievers teamed up Monday to throw a no-hitter at the Atlanta Braves. An announcer noted during the telecast that Ruth was a part of the first combined no-hitter ever, for Boston in 1917. Technically, Ruth was ejected after walking the first batter, according to an ESPN account. However, it should be noted that Ruth won 24 games that season, so the point is made about his pitching accomplishments. And, Ruth still is tied for most career shutouts in a season (nine) by a left-hander.
Of course, Ruth’s career total of 714 home runs now ranks third all-time, behind the controversial Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron. But think how many homers Ruth would have had had he been an everyday player his whole career (he broke in in 1914).
Then again, think how many pitching accomplishments Ruth would have racked up had he remained on the mound. They don’t make ’em like THAT any more.
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