Archive for Babe Ruth

Happy birthday, Kid

Posted in Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2020 by macmystery

The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams (Baseball Hall of Fame)


Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived, would have been 102 years old today.

Williams, not just figuratively, but statistically, as well, is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest hitter in Major League Baseball history.

If you love baseball, it’s really hard not to love Ted Williams.

He is the all-time leader in on-base percentage (.482), second all-time in slugging percentage (.634) and second in OPS (1.116), the combination of those aforementioned two numbers, which essentially paints a picture of how productive a hitter is.

The leader in both categories in which Williams is second? Babe Ruth, often considered the game’s greatest player. But Williams, unlike Ruth, played his career in the live-ball era and played the majority of his career after integration, meaning all of the best players could finally make the major leagues. (More on this topic later.)

He is the last major leaguer to hit higher than .400 in a full season – .406 in 1941.

He won the Triple Crown in 1942 (.356, 36 HRs, 137 RBIs) – the last season before he joined the Marines as an aviator for World War II. And he won the Triple Crown in 1947 (.343, 32, 114), his second season back from WWII.

As a 2nd Lt., Williams was an F4U Corsair flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola. He was in Pearl Harbor awaiting transport to a unit in the Pacific when Japan surrendered in 1945. He missed three full seasons in his prime (1943-45) for the war.

When the Korean War happened, Williams was called up from the reserves and assigned to VMF-311, Marine Air Group 33 in Phang, South Korea.

For much of the war, he was future astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn’s wing man. Glenn called Williams the best pilot he had ever seen. Glenn’s wife said he was the most profane man she’d ever met.

Williams earned the Naval Air Medal when his plane was hit across enemy lines and he guided it back safely, despite the plane eventually catching fire after a crash landing.

He finished his military career with two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars. And he never complained about his time in the prime of his career lost to the service.

Using Williams’ averages during those periods in his career, in almost five full seasons, military service cost him 864 hits, 155 home runs and 582 RBIs. Adding those numbers to his career totals, Williams would have amassed more than 3,500 hits, good for fifth all-time behind just Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial; 671 home runs, behind just Barry Bonds, Aaron, Ruth and Alex Rodriguez; and more than 2,400 RBIs, easily eclipsing Aaron as the all-time leader.

And it’s fair to say Williams could have done even more damage. He retired as a 41-year-old after a 1960 season that saw him hit .311 with 29 home runs and 72 RBIs. An all-star, he posted an OPS of 1.096. For reference, that OPS would have been second in the major leagues last season by .004.

In his retirement, Williams was an avid and talented fisherman, owning several records during his lifetime. He is a member of the International Fishing Hall of Fame, making him one of just four athletes to reach the Hall of Fame in multiple sports joining Jim Brown (football, lacrosse), Cumberland Posey (baseball, basketball) and Cal Hubbard (baseball, football).

Politically, Williams was once described as even “to the right of Attila The Hun,” except when it came to civil rights. Possibly the best thing Williams did off the baseball field during peacetime was to use his acceptance speech upon induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966 to advocate for the inclusion of Negro League players who had been denied the opportunity to play in the major leagues and were not eligible for the Hall.

“I hope that some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way could be added as a symbol of the great Negro players that are not here only because they were not given the chance.”



Farewell, lady of the Bronx

Posted in History, Sports with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2008 by macmystery

Eighty-five years is a good life by almost any standard.

When you’ve seen the action Yankee Stadium has, it can’t be described as any thing but great.

The New York Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 Sunday night, Sept. 21, 2008 in the final major league game in The House That Ruth Built. The Stadium, as New Yorkers (I’m not one) and the Yankees players refer to it, was opened nearly 85 years before – April 18, 1923. Babe Ruth homered that day and the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 4-1 to open their run for the first of their ridiculous 26 World Series crowns.

Julia Ruth Stevens, the 92-year-old daughter of the Babe was present Sunday. There was a 65-minute pregame ceremony. Virtually every great living Yankee, and many not living, was honored. Longtime public-address announcer Bob Sheppard, sometimes referred to as the voice of God, made a taped appearance. Derek Jeter was removed with two outs in the ninth, getting the ovation he deserved as the Stadium’s all-time hits leader, and Mariano Rivera was on the mound for the final out – the way it should be.

In 85 seasons, the Yankees went 4,135-2,430-17 at the Stadium. The Yankees took part in 37 World Series at the Stadium, winning 26.

The stadium got a facelift in the mid 1970s, and while it wasn’t nearly the same as the old Stadium, the new Yankee Stadium still had that “something.”

When the Yankees announced Sunday’s attendance, the number they gave was 151,959,005 – the total number of fans who passed through the turnstiles in the Stadium’s 85 seasons. I’m proud to say, though I’ve been to New York City but three times in my life, I accounted for two of those 151,959,005.

My first trip came in 1997. I’ll never forget it. My girlfriend at the time made sure I got to go, and I’m forever grateful.

I’ve heard my dad talk about my grandfather’s wish to see the Indianapolis 500 once in his lifetime. That was Yankee Stadium for me.

We sat near the back on the first base side, and the Yankees lost to the Blue Jays. I visited the monuments and took a ton of pictures (though, I’ve managed to post none here). Although I can’t recall if anyone noticed, I’m certain I cried.

The trip home after the game was as interesting as the game. We followed the subway directions my girlfriend’s sister had provided to get to the Stadium, and it all went smoothly. But she didn’t know that one of the trains we needed to take home, by her directions, didn’t run on the weekends. So as we sat in the station after a night game in the Bronx, waiting for a train that would never come, the crowds disappeared, and soon we were alone with a small crowd people that I’ll just call unruly. Eventually, someone gave us the correct directions, but for a few minutes, we were a little concerned.

I’ve since returned for another game, a couple of years ago on a baseball trip with three friends I love, yet see far too little. But the first time is the trip I remember best. And I can always say I was there.

I’m sure the new Stadium will be amazing. But it just won’t be the old Stadium, even the remodeled one.

I’ve been to a lot of major league baseball parks (27) and seen games in a lot better places to see a game, particularly Fenway Park in Boston. But even as great as it is, it won’t be as big a deal when it hosts its last game. The history just isn’t there.

Farewell, Yankee Stadium.

A little irony

The stadium opened in 1923 with a game against the Boston Red Sox. That was appropriate since it was the Red Sox that sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees and effectively allowed the two American League clubs to swap their fortunes.

But the Yankees have a history with Baltimore, whose Orioles were the final team to visit the Stadium on Sunday night. First, Babe Ruth, the star who got his stadium, was a Baltimore native. Secondly, the New York Highlanders, as the Yankees were known until 1913, were originally the Baltimore Orioles, before moving to New York in 1903. The Orioles’ name didn’t again surface until the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954.