In the latest instalment of Curveballs and Sliders, Herts Baseball Club’s Joe Gray takes a look at some of the greatest players in the history of Major League Baseball
The most famous baseball player of all-time must surely be George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth – one of a very small number of players whose fame has transcended the sport on an international stage.
That may have been as much for his larger than life personality off the field as his accomplishments on it. However, the latter were formidable in their own right.
The effectiveness of his batting style, which revolved around hitting home runs rather than amassing lots of shorter hits, transformed the game during the 1920s, while he wore the jersey of the New York Yankees.
In 1920, he hit a staggering 54 home runs. Besides his own Yankees, only one other team in the Majors hit more home runs than Ruth managed by himself – with all their players combined.
By the time he played his last Major League game in 1935, he had smashed many of the game’s most famous records, including – with a total of 714 – the home-run mark.
Amazingly, in the early years of his Major League career with the Boston Red Sox, Ruth was considered more a pitcher; he was very effective at that discipline too.
Another famed New York Yankees hitter whose name made its way into living rooms around the world was Joe Di Maggio.
Away from the diamond, it was his marriage to Marilyn Monroe that placed him in the global spotlight.
On the field, his incredible streak of getting at least one hit in 56 consecutive Major League games is the most cited of his many achievements.
Ruth sits at the top of many people’s lists for the best all-time players, but fellow hitters Ty Cobb (a batting and base-running machine) and Willie Mays (a wonderfully talented all-round athlete famed for his spectacular catches in the outfield) typically keep him company among the top-ranked names.
> Joe Gray is the founder and co-ordinator of Project COBB, the home of the chronicling of British Baseball. To visit the website click here
Next week, Curveballs and Sliders will look at great players from the history of Major League Baseball.