What was the importance of Babe Ruth both as a player on the field and a hero off the field? Why were the 1961 Roger Maris and the 1974 Henry Aaron breaking Ruth's record so controversial?
Chris asked: What is the importance of Babe Ruth both as a player on the field and a hero off the field? Why were the 61 Roger Maris and the 74 Henry Aaron breaking Ruth's record so controversial?
Rick answered: Chris, thank you for your question.
On the field Babe Ruth was a tremendous pitcher, as well as a prolific hitter. He had the ability to fill the stadium, a true money maker for the ownership.
The Yankees built a new Yankee Stadium soon after acquiring Ruth. That stadium was labeled, "the stadium that Ruth built".
Off the field it was his charity and love of kids. Kids loved Babe Ruth and he loved them.
The controversy surrounding Roger Maris' breaking of the record was that Ruth had established his in a 154 game schedule, Maris in a 162. Many felt the 8 game differential to be an unfair advantage for Maris.
With Henry Aaron, it was racially motivated. Aaron came 1 home run short the year before he broke the record, and had said when asked about breaking it the next year, said his biggest concern was surviving the off season, citing the number of death threats he had received if he were to break the record.
The controversy was not officially settled until 1991, when then Commissioner Fay Vincent declared it official.
Yours in baseball,