So the “agonizing wait” is over. Barry (The Asterisk) Bonds has finally hit another ball outta the park, matching George Herman (The Babe) Ruth’s years-long record of 714 homers. The Asterisk still has a way to go to reach -and pass- the all-time home run leader Henry (The Hammer) Aaron who holds the record of 755 home runs after surpassing the Babe with no. 715 in 1974.
Is it fair to compare players from such different eras, who played under such varied circumstances as these players?
The Babe spent the first years of his career as a pitcher, and his appearances at the plate were limited by the reduced number of games a pitcher would play. Once he started playing in the outfield, his at-the-plate numbers increased. The Babe had limited access to physical conditioning (unless you count the Budweiser arm curls) and the equipment in use at the time was a little less advanced than today’s gear. Still, Ruth was able to produce some great numbers as a pitcher and even better numbers as a batter.
The Hammer spent the first years of his career in the Negro Leagues and then battled racism when he moved to the majors. That’s quite an obstacle to face, day in, day out. The people who are screaming FOR him inside the ballpark would cross the street (or make him cross the street) to avoid him outside the park. The conditioning, equipment, and pay increased pretty steadily during The Hammer’s hammerin’ years. Hank kept hitting the homers while at the same time earning several Gold Gloves for his fielding skills. Another all-around great member of the Hall of Fame.
The Asterisk may not make it into Cooperstown. Not without a ticket. The Asterisk is the product of advanced equipment, rules changes, monetary rewards (when he signed with his current team, the Giants, he was the highest paid player ever in
That’s why I like Cape League Baseball. I like to watch players who play for the love of the game. And room and board. Some of them will go on to make the big bucks when they reach The Show, but most will end up with respectable careers as coaches, teachers, salesmen. With stories to tell their sons and grandsons about the summer they played against the next guy to break the home run record.
Oh, yeah. One other thing. I wonder if The Asterisk will slide over to the
But that’s what big business has done to professional sports. That and the high cost of being a fan. How many regular folks do you know who can pay hundreds of dollars to bring their average family of four to a professional sports game? A couple of hundred for decent tickets, another fifty bucks for parking, then add in food, the $8 beers and $4 sodas, and a souvenir apiece for the little ones…sounds more like a mortgage payment than a night at the park. It used to be the rest of us could catch the game on TV. Then came ESPN and we had to pay to watch. Now it costs hundreds of dollars to get a full season of your favorite sport on a cable network. At least the parking is free and the snacks are cheaper.
Ah, but there I go digressing again. Somebody stop me.
Click here for a timeline of Babe Ruth’s career. Priceless