From the archive: ‘Is Babe Ruth hurting game?’

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I was enthralled when I came across this piece, an interview with a prominent baseball researcher of the 1920s suggesting Babe Ruth’s home runs were hurting baseball. Jacob Pomrenke of the Society for American Baseball Research told me after I first shared this piece a few weeks ago on Twitter that such stories were common in Babe Ruth’s era as he became the game’s first great slugger.

I suppose it’s human nature to come up with inane rationalizations to justify resisting change, and perhaps no player in baseball history changed the game as much as the Sultan of Swat. There were probably some growing pains for lots of people interested in baseball while Ruth was forever reshaping play. All the same, pieces like the one above seem wonderfully arcane nearly a century on. Historians seem to have long since settled on the narrative that Ruth saved fan interest in baseball, practically on his own, following the Black Sox Scandal. It’s a little surreal coming across pieces that run counter to this. But that’s part of the fun of historical research.

An added bonus, as Jacob pointed out to me: This story ran in the Boston Post, no doubt eager to bash Ruth, barely a year removed at the time from his sale to New York. Geographically, it’s the same press corps that hounded Ted Williams much of his career so I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised.

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