Was Babe the Best Ballplayer Ever?

My mother who has just recently come to appreciate baseball told me a male co-worker said Willie Mays is the greatest ballplayer of all time. She countered with “my daughter always says Babe Ruth is”. She called me that night and asked me why Babe Ruth? “Simple,” I said. Babe Ruth spent his first five full seasons of his career as a pitcher. If he had not become a fulltime position player, he would have gone to the Hall of Fame as a pitcher. That cannot be said for any other player. But Babe couldn’t run? He had 136 triples and 123 stolen bases. By the way Mays only has 4 more career triples than Ruth. I am in no way knocking Willie Mays or any other player. I am not about that. I have the utmost respect for the game of baseball to knock anyone. Everyone has arguments for who they feel is the best. Hands down I will take Babe Ruth over any other player, pitcher or position player – no hesitation. I can’t say that about anyone else. My mom went back and told her co-worker why Babe Ruth and he didn’t have a counter argument. I believe Babe Ruth is the best player to ever breathe.

What determines who is the best ballplayer? Stats? Value? Winning? A combination? Does the best ballplayer strike the fear of god into a pitcher (excluding the likes of Koufax, Gibson, and Ryan)? On the current Yankees would you rather face A-rod or Jeter? On stats alone, you wouldn’t consider Jeter the best ballplayer on his team, let alone all of baseball. But you have to consider him as one because he is invaluable to the Yankees. As he goes, the Yanks go – he gets on base, usually the Yanks score. If the ball is hit to him, his instincts are supernatural a la the now infamous shuffle to home plate against the Athletic’s. Overblown – you could say that because if Giambi would have slid he had a good chance to be safe but results are what matters. You could also argue that if Jeter wasn’t there to pass the ball to Posada, then Giambi is safe because no one else would have been there to relay that ball. Timing, inches, instincts, luck, all of the above – these help make a great player.

 

Everyone has a favorite they like to call the best ballplayer. Who am I to judge? Who is anyone to judge? I like stats, I look at them but I never let them dictate the player as a whole. They are not the be all, end all for me. I know baseball is all about stats. I believe it is more than just stats. Take in consideration that during Mickey Mantle’s career he was injured (forget the hang overs) and his numbers are good – great even but not the best – yet so many people who’ve seen him play will say Mickey was the best. The same argument goes for Willie Mays. Who could argue either?

 

But the best – the one player when you hear the word baseball – the one player you will use to teach your kid about baseball. One player whom the whole world uses his last name as the one symbol of all greatness is Babe Ruth. Jordan is the Babe Ruth of basketball. Woods is the Babe Ruth of golf. Unitas is the Babe Ruth of football, the list never ends. Another word for greatness is Ruthian. The speech was of Ruthian quality. His three-point shot was Ruthian. Whomever you feel is the best player – everyone has qualities and feats to back up their greatness but no one else’s name is so synonymous with being the all time best at something.


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