MLB Short On Remembering Contributions Of The Babe
George Herman "Babe" Ruth was Major League Baseball's first superstar.
Granted. There were several impressive records collected this past season. In April, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera smacked his 3,000th hit. Last month, Cardinals' Albert Pujols slugged his 700th home run. And early this month, New York Yankees' Aaron Judge hit his 62nd round-tripper of the season to become the American League single-season home run champion.
Whereas Ruth held the AL single-season record of 60 home runs in 1927 for 34 seasons, until Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961, his importance throughout Judge's race for the record seemed uninteresting to many in the media.
Perhaps now is the time to have the discussion of MLB retiring Ruth's uniform number 3.
Way back in April 1997, at Shea Stadium then MLB Commissioner Bud Selig declared that number 42 was being permanently retired by the game. Robinson, the late Brooklyn Dodger who broke MLB's color barrier, is the only player in the game's history to have his number retired across all teams.
Well, there certainly is a case to be made for Ruth to be the second player to have his number retired by all clubs.
With all the talk of Los Angeles Angels star pitcher and hitter Shohei Ohtani being a dominating two-way threat never before seen, baseball fans may be in need of a history lesson. Granted, it has been a few years since the Babe dominated the game, but dominated he did. From 1914-1935, 22 big league seasons (15 with the Yankees), Ruth was THE star attraction of the game. And that 1927 season where he clubbed 60 home runs, the Baltimore native tallied 164 RBIs.
When he played in his last game as a Boston Brave in 1935, Ruth totaled 714 home runs.
For the beginning of his career, Ruth played during what historians label the "dead-ball ear." Scores were low due to a lack of home runs hit. Balls were scuffed due to over use, the spitball was legal to throw until the 1934 season when the last of the pitcher's grandfathered in who could legally throw it retired.
Ruth brought excitement to the game to a level where there's a consensus that he saved the game.
It's fair to say, wherever you go, at home or abroad, the name Babe Ruth is remembered. He is the eternal goodwill ambassador for baseball.
Throughout Judge's chase for 62, the attention allotted he and Maris was worthy and applauded by the baseball community.
But, I wonder. Throughout the chase for 62, MLB had members of the Maris family with Judge's parents at the stadiums the Yankees were playing in. Why wasn't a member of the Ruth family also included in the circle of baseball importance?
Linda Ruth Tosetti, the Babe's granddaughter lives in nearby Connecticut. The Yankees surely know this. But, she wasn't asked to join the excitement. Shouldn't a lineage to the Babe been pictured with the Maris and Judge family members?
" I never have met the Maris family," says the Babe's granddaughter. " No one (from MLB) reached out to me."
During a recent telephone call with Ruth-Tosetti, she checked her phone messages, to see if any members of the media wanted to speak with her. A local New York newspaper is the lone request.
It's Ruth-Tosett's opinion that the Yankees have no interest in pushing for the Babe's number 3 to be retired like Robinson's 42.
Ruth-Tosetti is very protective of his grandfather's legacy. Born six years after her grandfather passed, Ruth-Tosetti's mother Dorothy Ruth-Pirone is the only biological daughter of the Babe.
" I would love to see Aaron, and shake his hand. Records are made to be broken. That's what the Babe always said," explains Ruth-Tosetti. " I would want to tell him what he did for baseball was good."
Ruth-Tosetti keeps a busy schedule making visits to libraries and speaking to various organizations about he famous grandfather. Prior to COVID, her visits was more in person. Today, it's Zoom, Skype, podcasts, Ruth-Tosetti remains busy as she wants to be.
Then, there's a book she is working on. Collecting memories on the Babe from all walks of society, to go along with photos collected and handed down through her family, is another project that keeps the 67-year-old Ruth-Tosetti busy.
Memories of her times around Yankees family members are plentiful. A Thanksgiving spent with the Mantle (the late Hall of Fame Yankee Mickey Mantle) boys and their mother Merlyn, also joined by the late Yankees Billy Martin's sons, is a cherished time by Ruth-Tosetti. Hank Steinbrenner, the late son of Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner (who passed in 2010) was a favorite of hers.
" He (Hank Steinbrenner) was the one guy who had hart, believe it or not."
It shouldn't be so easy , regardless of the level of media noise, for as an important legendary figure like Babe Ruth to be lost in the conversation, especially in baseball.
Aaron Judge had a phenomenal MVP-like season. MLB just needs to send out the memo, who the first "Sultan of Swat" was.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.