(MLB) - On July 8, 1918, when Ruth was still with the Red Sox, he came to the plate in the 10th inning of a scoreless tie against Cleveland. He faced future Hall of Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski. Ruth's teammate, Amos Strunk, was on first base. Ruth crushed the ball over the right-field wall to win the game. This is now called a walk-off home run.
Ah, but in 1918 … it was ruled a triple, and the final score of the game was 1-0. The thinking then was the game ended the instant Strunk touched home plate. As umpire Hank O'Day said, "There is no way you can score a run after a game is over." This was before anyone knew that counting home runs hit in a season and in a career would become a thing. In 1918, being credited with a triple was just as good as being credited with a home run, maybe even better.
The Baseball Encyclopedia folks found 37 of these home runs that were not counted as home runs. They thought it would make sense to fix those. Major League Baseball had put together a special records committee to go over such things, and the committee agreed unanimously that, yes, this was an error worth fixing. Babe Ruth had 715 home runs!
Baseball fans went absolutely bananas. See, it was one thing to knock Anson out of the 3,000-hit club; nobody much liked him anyway. But you didn't go messing with Ruth. The newspaper columnists screamed murder -- literally in some cases. Dick Young compared giving Ruth a home run to digging up executed murderer Ruth Snyder because capital punishment had been abolished in New York State.
There's nothing better than old baseball. Baseball moving forward is only dumb and idiotic. Just look at how impossible it is for anyone to agree on simply playing the sport right now. I, for one, don't much care for it. Luckily, we have hundreds of thousands of years of baseball history to keep us entertained for the rest of time. I had no idea Babe Ruth supposedly hit 715 home runs until moments before I opened up the back end of our website to start writing about it. The reason I didn't know is because five idiots were in charge of voting whether to count a HOME RUN AS A HOME RUN with the benefit of hindsight and decided it was best to let sleeping dogs lie and keep it at 714. Fucking HUH??? Why would I even believe the 714 at this point? Babe Ruth probably hit 900 home runs. Or 87. There's no way people 100 years ago could count. Hell, people in 1969 couldn't agree that a home run was a home run, so I'm certainly not giving people 50 years earlier more credit.
But this fact alone isn't why I dipped the quill. Reminiscing about the origins of baseball is enough to earn several hearty, Dr. Hibbert-inspired chuckles out of me every single time.
We love now to glance at the records on Retrosheet or Baseball Reference or FanGraphs and think of baseball stats as this timeless and continuous thing. Look, King Kelly hit .388 in 1886, just like Rod Carew did in 1977! The game is eternal!
Yeah, except nobody knew what King Kelly hit because the game was entirely different. Six balls constituted a walk (and in 1887, for one season, walks were counted as hits). Bats could have a flat side on them. If a hitter was hit by a pitch, he stayed at the plate. Batters were actually allowed by the rules to request pitches to be thrown high or low.
I would prefer if they brought back every single one of these rules. Six balls for a walk? Make it 12. Walks stink, eliminate walks entirely. Only way you can reach base is with a hit. I don't care how many times Aroldis Chapman just hit you in the groin with 104 mph cheddar. You're gonna stand there and keep swinging until you make contact with your flat bat. I'm also not sure they have to reinstitute the request rule. Like what's stopping Bryce Harper from digging into the box and yelling to Jacob deGrom to place one up and in? It doesn't say the pitchers had to oblige. And with no walks you could be up there all day waiting for him to groove you a juicy red apple. Baseball has fallen out of favor during Big Rona and the best medicine for the future is by borrowing from the past. Steroids encouraged. Home runs are triples now. Walks? Never again. This is the equation to bring baseball back to its true glory once and for all.