It was certainly as exciting an NBA playoff series as I’ve ever seen. I just got home from the Las Vegas Hilton sports book, loaded with Lakers fans just like me I might add, where I watched my home team defeat Sacramento in game seven. I’ll consider this to be a mini-dynasty if they can beat the Nets; not too many teams have ever won three NBA titles in a row.
And I won’t let anyone forget who put this team together; it was Jerry West, the best front-office mind in basketball.
One last thought; Bibby, you are a stud, just like your dad!
Story of the Week
Babe Ruth, Ronald Reagan and I were each born on February 6th. It is rather debatable as to which of us is the more famous, but there is no doubt that Ruth was the best baseball player.
The Babe’s childhood was not a happy one. He would never forget it, and he made every effort to go out of his way throughout his career for kids who couldn’t get enough of him. Kids loved him, and he loved them.
When Ruth was 19 in 1914, he was signed by the Boston Red Sox, farmed out to Providence, and brought back to Boston after winning 19 games as a star pitcher there.
He enjoyed several years as a top-flight pitcher. Because of his hitting ability, the Babe became primarily an outfielder in 1918 so he could play daily. That year, he led the American League in homers for the first of a record twelve times.
Harry Frazee, Red Sox owner and a theatrical producer deep in debt, was forced to sell Ruth’s contract to the New York Yankees that December. That would prove to be a fatal error for the Red Sox for years to come; they’ve never recovered from that mistake.
In 1919, his first year as a Yankee, he hit 54 home runs; the rest of the league hit only 315. Fans rushed to see him in his first year in New York, producing the first million-plus attendance in baseball history, and spurring the Yankees to erect Yankee Stadium in 1923 (they had been sharing the Polo Grounds with the Giants.)
Yankee Stadium rightfully became known as "The House That Ruth Built." That year, he hit .393 to lead the Yankees to their third straight pennant and first World Series. He dominated that Series, hitting three home runs and batting .368.
From 1926 to 1930, he led the league in home runs every year, and tied Lou Gehrig for the lead in 1931. Three years later, Ruth asked to manage the Yankees, and was chagrined when owner Jacob Ruppert offered him New York’s top farm club instead.
Ruth signed with the Braves, and had a final moment of glory on May 25, 1935, hitting three home runs in a game, one of them a prodigious clout over the right field roof at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. (Wouldn’t he have loved the ridiculous modern live-ball era!)
The Babe retired a few weeks later. During his 22-year career, he amassed 714 home runs, 2174 runs scored, 2873 hits, 2213 RBI’s, a .342 batting average, and a .690 slugging percentage. And don’t forget that four years of his great career were spent as a pitcher; he won 94 games in his career, and had a tremendous ERA of just 2.28.
Babe Ruth is one of the most talented and colorful athletes of all time.
Last Week’s Trivia
Who is the only player ever to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium? No, it wasn’t Mickey Mantle. No major league player has ever done it. It was Josh Gibson. He did it during a Negro League game in 1934.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who is the only player to play in every Brooklyn Dodger-New York Yankee World Series game in history? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.