Happy Birthday, Babe

On this day in 1895 George Herman “Babe” Ruth was born in Baltimore, Maryland. I have been out of major league baseball for almost a decade and have not followed it at all during most of that time, but when I was a baseball fanatic Ruth was one of my heroes.

I don’t know if this is still true, but I know that at one point Ruth was the only player in major league history to pitch in at least ten seasons and have a winning record in every season he pitched. Of course, in some of those seasons his record was 1-0 or 2-0 as the Yankees would have him pitch late in the season as an event to promote. Ruth’s lifetime major league record as a pitcher was 94-46. In that number of decisions a pitcher’s record has meaning. I suspect that very few pitchers with 100+ decisions have a W-L percentage better than Ruth’s (.671).

To me, he is still the greatest player in major league history. As another all-time great, Stan Musial, remarked, “Ruth has to be the greatest player because he could pitch and bat cleanup in the majors like the star of a high school team.”

The two most important “traditional” statistics for a hitter are on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG). Ruth led his league in OBP ten times and in SLG twelve times. Barry Bonds also had ten seasons in which he led in OBP, but only seven in which he led in SLG and no one has ever accused Ruth of using steroids. I don’t think alcohol and tobacco are performance-enhancing drugs.

Below is a chart (of course) showing Ruth’s homerun total compared to the other teams in his league for 1919—his last year with the Red Sox—and 1920—his first year with the Yankees. The teams are listed in the order in which they finished in the standings and NOT in homeruns.


1919 HR
Ruth 29
Chicago 25
Cleveland 25
New York 45
Detroit 23
St. Louis 31
Boston, exc. Ruth 4
Washington 24
Philadelphia 35
1920  HR
Ruth 54
Cleveland 35
Chicago 37
New York, exc. Ruth 61
St. Louis 50
Boston 22
Washington 36
Detroit 30
Philadelphia 44


Yes, in 1919 Ruth hit 29 homeruns and the rest of his team hit 4. Yes, in 1920 Ruth out-homered every team in the American League except his own.

In a very real way, baseball is being played in the idiom of Babe Ruth and has been for most of the time since his debut. Think about this: Ruth’s last game in the major leagues is closer in time to the end of the Civil War than it is to today and yet the majors are still, in essence, playing Babe Ruth Baseball.

From The Hollywood Reporter (!) a picture of the Babe:


See the source image




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Haphazard Friday

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”

– Albert Einstein


Elvis Presley died on this day in 1977. At the risk of incurring the wrath of many readers I must confess that I am not and never have been a fan of Presley. I don’t like his music and I could never get through more than five or ten minutes of any of his movies. Different strokes for different folks…Oh yeah, Presley once shot his De Tomaso Pantera after a fight with his girlfriend.

Babe Ruth died on this day in 1948. When I followed or cared about baseball I was a huge fan of Ruth and his unbelievable accomplishments. As Bill James has pointed out, Ruth’s last game in the major leagues (1935) is now closer in time to the end of the Civil War than it is to today.


Has any of you ever watched The Great British Baking Show? I think the show is actually called The Great British Bake-Off in the UK. Our local PBS station airs the show and my wonderful wife and I are hooked.

Every season the show begins with 12 bakers. In each episode the bakers have a signature challenge, a technical challenge and a show-stopper challenge. At the end of each episode one contestant is named “Star Baker” and one is eliminated. However, the final competition episode actually has three bakers.

In the episodes aired here, which are older, the judges are Paul Hollywood (yes, that’s his real name) and Mary Berry. Berry left the show three years ago when it moved from the BBC to Channel 4. The show has been produced since 2010.

Unlike American competition shows The Great British Baking Show does not feature contestants fighting with each other. The difficulty of making the items given to them provides enough tension and the tension seems more genuine. Hollywood and Berry have an unusual, but endearing on-screen chemistry.

After the competition has ended the series shows what it calls Masterclasses where Hollywood and Berry (supposedly) make some of the items that were given to the contestants to make during that season. In my opinion, these shows are even better than the competition. The banter between Hollywood and Berry is hysterical, at times.

My mother’s parents were bakers in Poland before World War II began. I began baking when I was a teenager; believe it or not, I had much more patience during that time than I do now. My mother also baked; frankly, her pastries were too dry for me, but she liked dunking her cookies. When I began baking I used less flour than she did so that my cakes or whatever would be moist. My mother would always try to sneak extra flour into my batter and issue a stern warning that my batter was too thin and that my cake would fall down in the oven. I can honestly say that never happened.


A car like this was offered for sale at the Mecum auction currently taking place in Monterey, California:


See the source image


From Bring a Trailer a picture of a 1966 Buick Riviera. The badging on the front fender reads “GS.”

While I don’t think these cars are as stylish as the first-generation Riviera (1963-65) they are certainly more handsome than most. Other than the boat-tail generation I think Rivieras were well-styled automobiles.









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