Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Retire Ruth's #3?

Via King Kaufman and Rick Maese, I discovered that Babe Ruth's granddaughter wants major league baseball to permanently retire Ruth's jersey #3 throughout baseball. Linda Ruth Tosetti wants people to sign an online petition to encourage the commissioner to get on board with the idea:

Babe Ruth is the man who saved baseball and launched a major league revolution in hitting! Join our effort to honor the Babe by having his famous number 3 retired throughout Major League Baseball.

Give me a break.

Tosetti is referring to the fact that baseball was reeling from the 1919 Black Sox scandal at the same time that Ruth was electrifying crowds with his home runs.

But Tosetti has the timeline wrong. The public didn't hear about the World Series fix until midway through the 1920 season. By that point, Ruth was already a phenomenon. He had already been traded to the Yankees, his home runs were already being tracked in daily papers across the country, and crowds were already flocking to his games.

He didn't "save" baseball in the sense that he came on the scene when baseball needed saving and then singlehandedly revived interest in the game. He came along at just the right moment -- WWI had just ended, the Roaring 20s were just beginning -- and helped fuel a mini-boom in popularity for the game.

If baseball needed saving in the wake of the scandal, it was more likely that the new commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis,
is the one who provided it by dealing sternly with the accused.

And we're not going to retire Landis's jersey number.

So while I understand Ruth's granddaughter wanting to honor the greatest player in the history of baseball by retiring his jersey number in perpetuity, I think it's overkill. He changed baseball, but he didn't change society the way Jackie Robinson did.

And come on: isn't Ruth honored enough? Aren't the countless biographies and movies and everything else enough for Ruth's granddaughter?

1 comment:

Stratman said...

If Jackie Robinson can have his jersey retired all across baseball, then I think Ruth's should be.

In all truthfulness, I don't think anyone in any sport should have their jersey retired all across the league, unless they played with every team.