Steroid era proves Ruth was the best

Published 2:09 am Monday, August 9, 2010

The U.S. District court will finally hear the federal perjury trial against Barry Bonds in March.

Barry Bonds did steroids? C’mon, give me a break. The next thing you’ll be telling me is that the temperatures are extremely cold at the North Pole and that Pope Benedict is Catholic. None of those three things are true, right?

The verdict in Bonds’ impending trial really doesn’t really matter to baseball’s fans. The story is just like that of players such as Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmero and Roger Clemens. We all know they cheated. Their unreal numbers are just that, unreal.

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We don’t need the government’s proof even though it would stop the players telling us how they just did it one afternoon after spending too much time in the sun.

But their stories only prove one thing. Baseball’s greatest player was Babe Ruth.

It’s okay to argue all the other players. There are some great ones out there like Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Joe DiMaggio. But watching A-Roid round the bases as the youngest player to hit 600 career home runs could only make me think of Ruth.

No HGH. No uppers. No Creatine. In fact, Ruth was the anti-steroid. He abused his body and still put up some of the greatest numbers in the game. Some still stand today.

Opposing players took Ruth out at night and bought round after round of beer to get him drunk in hopes he would have a miserable game the next day. Instead, those players struggled through the game while Ruth showed up eating five hot dogs and belting two more home runs.

Ruth is remembered as the pot-bellied slugger who had to hit home runs so he could get around the bases. Actually, Ruth broke in at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and had great speed. He was flawless in the field rarely making an error. The Yankees told him not to steal bases because they didn’t want to risk injury.

Although Ruth is third all-time with 714 home runs, most people don’t realize Ruth spent five full seasons as a pitcher to start his career. He was 2-1 in a handful of games in 1914, then followed with seasons of 18-8, 23-12, 24-13, 13-7 and 9-5.

The 9-5 record in 1919 was due to Ruth being played more and more in the outfield. He hit 29 home runs that season.

In the five previous years, Ruth hit a total of 20 home runs. Imagine if he played every day instead of pitching and average 20 home runs a year. Ruth would have had more than 800 home runs and everyone would still be chasing him.

Maybe we should see if Louie Anderson can swing a bat.


Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.