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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sun-Sentinel: Berardino: Standards of the day hindered Babe Ruth

Noted baseball historian Bill Jenkinson estimates that Babe Ruth would have hit 1,150 HR’s in today’s game…unless he faced Tom Gordon last night, which would have bumped him up a notch!

Thanks to the miracle of microfiche, not to mention thousands of hours spent at the Library of Congress and the Cooperstown stacks, Jenkinson was able to track down multiple newspaper accounts of all but perhaps 100 of Ruth’s nearly 8,400 major league at-bats.

...Those accounts enabled Jenkinson to plot the distance and relative trajectory of nearly every ball Ruth ever hit. Then he took that information and cross-referenced it against the average dimensions of a Bonds-era park: 330 feet down the lines, 375 feet to the power alleys and 405 feet to straightaway center.

“Many times what was just an out for Ruth,” Jenkinson says, “would have been over the fence by 60 feet in today’s ballpark.”

Repoz Posted: May 10, 2006 at 11:15 AM | 540 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, hall of fame, yankees

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   1. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:00 PM (#2012469)
What a load of carp. What about home runs gained from smaller dimentioned parks? Did he take thos away? Not that I see. He played 22 games a year in Sprotsmans park and League park, with notoriously short RF fences. Does he debit Ruth for every 310' HR hit in Cleveland?

Second, there was the long-forgotten rule that required home runs in Ruth's day not just to leave the field inside the foul pole, but to land in the bleachers "fair" as well. This hurt Ruth more than the typical power hitter, Jenkinson says, because his shots typically traveled much farther and often curved into "foul" territory.

"That cost him at least 50 home runs," Jenkinson says. "I'm amazed more people don't talk about this."


OK, that's harsh, but it's just a foul ball and he's still batting. It's reasonable to assume he hit a few HR in those AB's after the fair/foul shot.



Here's another nugget: Bonds has hit 35 homers of 450-plus feet, all but three since Opening Day 2000. And those three, Jenkinson says, all were wind-aided according to government data.

Ruth? He hit at least 245 balls of 450 feet or more, by Jenkinson's count.


First of all, how many of those 245 balls hit by Ruth were HR? He doesn't say, but the clear impression he wants to leave is few or none. How many of those were wind-aided?

Anyway, does this guy realize what he's saying? Ruth made 4195 non-strikeou batting outs in his career. The author is then implying that over 10% of his batting outs would have been HRs. That's...amazing to say the least. And highly unlikely. What was Ruth's FB/GB ratio? Probably huge, but one presumes he hit some groundballs. Is 70/30 reasonable? If it was 70/30, that would mean that 15% of his flyball outs becomes a HR.

I'd like to see the study.
   2. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:04 PM (#2012470)
Forget the Bonds comparison for a minute, and forget all the other era comparisons as well (segregation, etc.)---this is one impressive piece of research. And it shows you that many salient "facts" often go well beyond the sort of facts that you can obtain in a fifteen second glance at an encylopedia or on baseball_reference.com. I am definitely looking forward to getting this book.
   3. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:12 PM (#2012473)
Miserlou, if you read the article, you can see that from the trajectory of the balls he actually hit, Ruth gained about three homers a year from playing three home years in the Polo Grounds.

You can also see that in the case of Sportsman's Park and League Park, the only home runs that Ruth would have gained would have been those which traveled less than 330 or 375 ft., depending on which park of the park the ball was hit. How many of those era-enhanced home runs do you really think there were?
   4. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:14 PM (#2012474)
Then he took that information and cross-referenced it against the average dimensions of a Bonds-era park: 330 feet down the lines
Funnily enough, ballparks.com tells me that during the days of Ruth, Yankee Stadium was 280ft down the left field line and 295ft down the right field line. I wonder if Jenkinson deducted any or all of the 297ft homers that Ruth hit at home. Something tells me he probably didn't.
   5. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:19 PM (#2012475)
What the shortened fences giveth, the slider taketh away. If he'd had to swing defensively more, he wouldn't have hit the ball so far so often.
   6. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:23 PM (#2012477)
What the shortened fences giveth, the <strike>slider</strike>inclusion of non-caucasians taketh away.

Fixed that for ya'.
   7. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:26 PM (#2012481)
Of course, the other issue is this : given that todays technology still can't generate trustworthy estimated distances for home runs, and given how likely it is for sports writers to exaggerate Ruth's prowess for dramatic effect, exactly how much trust should we put into a 1923 newspaper article describing a 470' shot by the Bambino.

My answer : about as much trust as we put in the Fox Sports radar gun.
   8. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:29 PM (#2012483)
Funnily enough, ballparks.com tells me that during the days of Ruth, Yankee Stadium was 280ft down the left field line and 295ft down the right field line. I wonder if Jenkinson deducted any or all of the 297ft homers that Ruth hit at home. Something tells me he probably didn't.

Something tells me that by the time this article gets through getting nitpicked here, the consensus will be that Babe Ruth was a figment of Fred Lieb's imagination, and that most of his home runs were the products of Ed Barrow's cryptically adjusted fences, illegal alcohol, and golf balls implanted in his bat. The BTF-adjusted Babe Ruth lifetime total will likely wind up at about 378.
   9. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:30 PM (#2012486)
You can also see that in the case of Sportsman's Park and League Park, the only home runs that Ruth would have gained would have been those which traveled less than 330 or 375 ft., depending on which park of the park the ball was hit. How many of those era-enhanced home runs do you really think there were?

I don't know. As many as there were 390-410 foot outs?

The author claims that Ruth didn't get much advantage from Yankee Stadium's short RF porch because he hit most of his HR to center or Right-Center. Then he claims he lost 50 HR's to fair-fould calls. Well which is is? I doubt his CF HR's were curving foul.
   10. jmac66 Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:34 PM (#2012490)
Yankee Stadium was 280ft down the left field line

welllll, yes but...


it angled VERY sharply back from the foul pole--almost straight back parallel to the foul line to the absurdly deep left feld dimensions

the only way you could take advantage of the "short left field foul pole" at Yankee was to be a left-handed batter with a nice fade, or a right hander with a vicious duck-hook
   11. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:34 PM (#2012491)
Of course, the other issue is this : given that todays technology still can't generate trustworthy estimated distances for home runs, and given how likely it is for sports writers to exaggerate Ruth's prowess for dramatic effect, exactly how much trust should we put into a 1923 newspaper article describing a 470' shot by the Bambino.

Yes, it was all part of a vast conspiracy, aided and abetted (and never outed) by every writer, player, and fan of Ruth's generation. They were all just pre-emptively tying to deny Roger Maris and the steroid boys their days in the Sun.
   12. bunyon Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:40 PM (#2012495)
What was Ruth's FB/GB ratio?

It's funny. With the paucity of video from Ruth's career, I just realized I have never seen Ruth groundout. Or popup. All I've seen are mammoth shots followed by that funny running style.


Andy, you make a decent point, but it looks to me like the nitpicks make a lot of good points, too (the best, I think, is GWO's #7 - the research does not have video, photos, or landing points, it has a reporter's recall, not the worst information, but not the best either). Do you disagree with those points? I think it is enough to say that while there are a lot of factors that would have cut Ruth's HR total, there are other factors that would have increased it. While it's fun to come up with numbers like 1150 and 378, there is no way in hell anyone knows. My guess is in today's environment, Ruth hits between 650-750 HR.
   13. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:41 PM (#2012497)
Ruth probably lost a few homers to the whole "154 game season" thing too
   14. bunyon Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:45 PM (#2012498)
BTW, is that fact about a ball having to land fair true? I've never heard it. If it is true, then I would bump up Ruth's total a bit.

When did they change it?
   15. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 12:53 PM (#2012505)
BTW, is that fact about a ball having to land fair true? I've never heard it. If it is true, then I would bump up Ruth's total a bit.

When did they change it?


It's true, of course, and it was changed in 1931, at which point the umpire was to determine whether the ball passed over the fence in fair or foul territory, which is the rule today.
   16. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:03 PM (#2012513)
Andy, you make a decent point, but it looks to me like the nitpicks make a lot of good points, too (the best, I think, is GWO's #7 - the research does not have video, photos, or landing points, it has a reporter's recall, not the worst information, but not the best either). Do you disagree with those points? I think it is enough to say that while there are a lot of factors that would have cut Ruth's HR total, there are other factors that would have increased it. While it's fun to come up with numbers like 1150 and 378, there is no way in hell anyone knows. My guess is in today's environment, Ruth hits between 650-750 HR.

My sense is that the nitpickers are mostly nitpicking around the edges of the article, and the mere fact that the author has dug into all those papers gives him a fair amount of credibility in my book, whether or not you agree with his final estimate of Ruth's adjusted total.

As to "my guess" as to Ruth's adjusted total, if you throw in all the factors (today's ballpark dimensions, today's salary incentives, today's training methods, today's talent pool, etc.), I'd be surprised if it didn't wind up somewhere at the high end of the same range that you mention, as opposed to the author's guesstimate. But the reason for this lower guess on my part has much, much more to do with today's radically improved talent pool than it does with trying to hypothesize that Ruth's tape measure home runs weren't really hit all that far. But this is what I alluded to in the first sentence of my first post in this thread.
   17. bunyon Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:05 PM (#2012516)
BTW, is that fact about a ball having to land fair true? I've never heard it. If it is true, then I would bump up Ruth's total a bit.

When did they change it?

It's true, of course, and it was changed in 1931, at which point the umpire was to determine whether the ball passed over the fence in fair or foul territory, which is the rule today.


Good lord. To think that people are always pointing out the difference in the modern sacrifice fly rule vs. the old and you never hear this one. Wow. Yeah, so of course that cost Ruth some HR. I still don't buy 1150.

(BTW, I wasn't trying to say the guy made that up. I just hadn't heard of it and it seems like something people would talk about).
   18. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:09 PM (#2012519)
My guess is in today's environment, Ruth hits between 650-750 HR.
Mine too. If I had to narrow that band, I'd guess somewhere between 713 and 715.
   19. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:11 PM (#2012524)
When did they change it?

It's true, of course, and it was changed in 1931, at which point the umpire was to determine whether the ball passed over the fence in fair or foul territory, which is the rule today.

Good lord. To think that people are always pointing out the difference in the modern sacrifice fly rule vs. the old and you never hear this one. Wow. Yeah, so of course that cost Ruth some HR. I still don't buy 1150.
Of course, the 1931 season was also the first season in which a ball that bounced over a fence became an automatic double rather than a 4-bagger.
   20. bunyon Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:11 PM (#2012525)
But the reason for this lower guess on my part has much, much more to do with today's radically improved talent pool than it does with trying to hypothesize that Ruth's tape measure home runs weren't really hit all that far. But this is what I alluded to in the first sentence of my first post in this thread.

Yeah, that was my thinking, too.


As for the fair/foul thing, it reminds me that the closest I ever came to getting kicked out of a game was a HS game in which I hit a great ball right down the line. It was clearly fair going over the fence (the opposing coach and players admitted this) but landed well foul about 100 feet past the fence (300' fence, an aluminum bat and a nice windy OK day, ha!). The ump called it foul because, he said, it landed foul. I had been running so didn't see it well. I asked him if it went over the fence fair and he said yes, but it landed foul. I went apes##t. My coach went apes##t. The opposing pitcher started to tell the ump what the rule was (he was a friend and teammate from Legion ball) before he remembered where he was and what team he was on.

Anyway, my point, to get to it, is that the ump was at least 70. This was in the late 80s, so maybe he was having flashbacks to childhood. I still can't believe he didn't run any of us. We were way out of line for a HS game.
   21. Dizzypaco Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:15 PM (#2012530)
Personally, I think those newspaper accounts providing distance for those homeruns are similar to those "estimates" of how many people show up at a large public gathering - a rough estimate, and usually exaggerated.
   22. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:22 PM (#2012536)
My sense is that the nitpickers are mostly nitpicking around the edges of the article
Even if the author is right, and Ruth was robbed of 400+ homers by playing in big parks, what sense does it make to "correct" for that era effect; and ignore the myriad other differences?

And what would one hope to achieve by such a thing, except boost the basically silly idea that ballplayers of the past were heroic Bunyonesque characters next to whom present players are athletic and moral pygmies?
   23. Repoz Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:24 PM (#2012538)
Personally, I think those newspaper accounts providing distance for those homeruns are similar to those "estimates" of how many people show up at a large public gathering - a rough estimate, and usually exaggerated.

Leigh Montville was on Mike y Mad Dog pumping his new Babe Ruth book...and said that back in the day when NY had a dozen or so papers...they would all try to out do each other with embellishing glee on Ruth's taters.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:31 PM (#2012548)
Bunyon,

That umpire's mental lock you describe reminds me a bit of an "argument" I had with a local baseball expert (who really is an expert, though this story might suggest otherwise) who insisted that if the first batter of a game hits a foul popup, which is dropped for an error, and that after that the pitcher retires both the batter and the next 26 batters, it is not a perfect game. For some odd reason he has it fixed in his mind that a "perfect" game by definition allows for no errors, even errors that don't allow anyone to reach base. Go figure.
   25. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:45 PM (#2012554)
My sense is that the nitpickers are mostly nitpicking around the edges of the article

Even if the author is right, and Ruth was robbed of 400+ homers by playing in big parks,

Thanks for at least finally admitting the possibility that the author may be onto something. I guess that's progress of sorts.

what sense does it make to "correct" for that era effect; and ignore the myriad other differences?

Possibly for the same reason that people do this all the time, in thousands of baseball arguments, and because the point he's making, unlike most of the other ones which are always cited about era differences, isn't one that's been run into the ground by scores of other writers and commentators.

And what would one hope to achieve by such a thing, except boost the basically silly idea that ballplayers of the past were heroic Bunyonesque characters next to whom present players are athletic and moral pygmies?

You know, his point seemed to be much more about Babe Ruth, and about a specific factual point, than it was about any of these broad generalizations about eras. And certainly one doesn't have to buy into some silly idea that Ruth's era was "better" than today's in order to appreciate the sort of findings which the author presents to us, and to appreciate the historical uniqueness of Babe Ruth.
   26. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:45 PM (#2012555)
My sense is that the nitpickers are mostly nitpicking around the edges of the article, and the mere fact that the author has dug into all those papers gives him a fair amount of credibility in my book, whether or not you agree with his final estimate of Ruth's adjusted total.

It's hardly nitpicking around the edges of an article that suggests that Ruth's true HR total would be 61% higher than his actual total.

And it's hardly a claim of conspiracy to point out that newspaper accounts of the day couldn't be used with 100% accuracy.
   27. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:48 PM (#2012558)
Andy (and others) : has that ever happened? Did any perfect games in the majors (or minors) contain a zero base error?
   28. Daryn Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:49 PM (#2012559)
Andy,

That expert is right. A perfect game is a team concept -- no runs, no baserunners, no errors.
   29. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:51 PM (#2012561)
You know, his point seemed to be much more about Babe Ruth, and about a specific factual point
I think "factual" is a serious overstatement of the strength of the evidence brought to bear. "Extremely debatable" is closer to the truth.

And I'll repeat, if you cherry pick your criteria and omit the many, many other era differences, what possible value or relevance does such a "fact" have?
   30. RP Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:53 PM (#2012562)
That expert is right. A perfect game is a team concept -- no runs, no baserunners, no errors.

That's always been my understanding. Is there some definition of "perfect game" in the MLB rules?
   31. Toolsy McClutch Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:58 PM (#2012569)
Of course, the bottom line is not what could have happened, or might have happened (in regards to dimensions, sliders, racial issues, etc.), but what did. Ruth is one of the all time greats, he transcended sports. Bonds is fantastic, a HOFer, one of my alltime personal favs. Still, I think most of us agree Ruth > Bonds. Let Barry hit his HRs, appeciate them for what they are, and then move along.

Personally, I think career totals are a silly thing to get worked up about. Single season records are where it's at.
   32. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 01:59 PM (#2012570)
BLB, the author has presented his findings, based on his rather prodigous research, and you have presented little more than a lot of innuendo. The "nitpicking around the edges" charge referred to the point about the handful of short fences in Ruth's day, none of which added appreciably to his home run totals.

And if you look at the breakdown of Barry Bonds's 450-ft home runs, you might want to apply a bit of that radical skepticism of yours to another set of home run totals. But then even to mention that breakdown shows the writer to be part of the same conspiracy, that Vast Conspiracy to discredit the Immortal Saint of San Francisco and resurrect the ghost of Ruth.
   33. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:02 PM (#2012574)
It's hardly nitpicking around the edges of an article that suggests that Ruth's true HR total would be 61% higher than his actual total.

1150 is 38% higher than 714, not 61% higher.
   34. Traderdave Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:02 PM (#2012575)
I cut and pasted these dimension from the Wiki entry on Yankee Stadium:

1923-1936

Left Field Line - 285 ft.
Straightaway LF, corner of main stand - 395 ft.
Straightaway LF, corner of bleachers - 460 ft.
Center Field - 490 ft.
Right Center - 429 ft.
Straightaway RF, bleacher gate - 350 ft.
Right Field Line - 295 ft.


I'm not familiar enough w/ YS to know where the "bleacher gate" was in "straightaway right" but these dimensions seem to suggest that Ruth had a pretty low bar on HR's to right at his home park.
   35. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:08 PM (#2012579)
G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 09:48 AM (#2012558)
Andy (and others) : has that ever happened? Did any perfect games in the majors (or minors) contain a zero base error?


Not that I know of.

Daryn Posted: May 10, 2006 at 09:49 AM (#2012559)
Andy,

That expert is right. A perfect game is a team concept -- no runs, no baserunners, no errors.


Not at all. A perfect game simply refers to 27 consecutive batters faced to begin the game, with none reaching base. A dropped foul ball hit by a batter who is subsequently retired does not negate this.

And where do you get this idea that a perfect game is a "team concept?" The perfect games in the record book are all credited to pitchers, not teams.
   36. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:08 PM (#2012580)
My sense is that the nitpickers are mostly nitpicking around the edges of the article, and the mere fact that the author has dug into all those papers gives him a fair amount of credibility in my book, whether or not you agree with his final estimate of Ruth's adjusted total.

Nonsense. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. You really think all those accounts of 450' shots resulted from careful measurements? Or were they just reporters trying to give their readers what they wanted? Give me a break. This whole thing is a steaming pile of Royals.
   37. RP Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:11 PM (#2012582)
steaming pile of Royals.

Cruel, but accurate.
   38. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:13 PM (#2012586)
you have presented little more than a lot of innuendo
Let me rephrase : this author's research is cannot possibly be more accurate than sports journalists were in the 1920s and 1930s.

Given the nature of his research, that is a fact. One may draw whatever conclusions that one likes, based on how reliable one considers sports journalists of the 1920s.
   39. DCA Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:18 PM (#2012595)
1150 is 38% higher than 714, not 61% higher.

1150/714 = 1.61 That's what 61% higher means.
   40. RP Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:21 PM (#2012598)
According to Wiki, Andy is right about perfect games. But there's no cite for that definition on the wiki page. I briefly scanned the MLB rules, but couldn't find an official definition.
   41. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:27 PM (#2012608)
1923-1936

Left Field Line - 285 ft.
Straightaway LF, corner of main stand - 395 ft.
Straightaway LF, corner of bleachers - 460 ft.
Center Field - 490 ft.
Right Center - 429 ft.
Straightaway RF, bleacher gate - 350 ft.
Right Field Line - 295 ft.


The fact that Ruth's home-road HR splits were almost exactly 50-50 (28-32 in 1927, for example), shows that whatever advantage he may have had from that short porch, it was negated by the rest of the park. And the same holds true for his stint in the Polo Grounds.

My sense is that the nitpickers are mostly nitpicking around the edges of the article, and the mere fact that the author has dug into all those papers gives him a fair amount of credibility in my book, <u>whether or not you agree with his final estimate of Ruth's adjusted total</u>.

Nonsense. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. You really think all those accounts of 450' shots resulted from careful measurements? Or were they just reporters trying to give their readers what they wanted?


More likely they were "all" infield flies that were made into home runs under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which governed all facets of baseball in the Landis Era.

More seriously, you might want to read the forthcoming book before trying to make such wholesale debunkings. I had already indicated my skepticism about making any precise guesses as to Ruth's adjusted total, but the thesis that the author raises is both interesting and important, and isn't one that can be countered simply with anecdotal generalizations about Ruthian Era sportswriters.
   42. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:30 PM (#2012609)
According to Wiki, Andy is right about perfect games. But there's no cite for that definition on the wiki page. I briefly scanned the MLB rules, but couldn't find an official definition.

I doubt if it would be in a rule book, but I can't imagine any record book omitting a game marred only by a dropped foul ball. Can you?
   43. bunyon Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:32 PM (#2012611)
and isn't one that can be countered simply with anecdotal generalizations about Ruthian Era sportswriters.

To be fair, Andy, my problem with this evidence isn't to do with an anecdotal generalization about Ruthian Era sportswriters as much as it is to do with sportswriters in general. Also the human tendency to exaggerate. I agree that it is hard to refute the book before reading it, but a newspaper account of a 450' HR when the writer knows that no evidence of the distance exists is hard to take at face value. YMMV


And that old ump, I feel bad because he really is (was, I would guess) a good guy. He probably was too old to be umping games, anyway. It was hot and he complained bitterly about the heat. He also looked like he might faint. But the guy had been umping for decades and was a hoot. I feel bad for blowing up at him (but, hey, I didn't hit enough blasts like that to just let one go).
   44. Kris Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:34 PM (#2012614)
Unless you have a lot of experience and practce at it, people are terrible at estimating distances. The longest homerun I've seen in person was this year, Jim Thome's massive bomb to right center at the Cell that just missed hitting the concourse (I think it bounced just short and hit the sign between sections 102 and 103 (or was it 103 104). My first thought was "man, that was a 500 footer" then I said, probably more like 450. The official distance was 448. True 450 foot homeruns are rare, 500 footers are really really rare.

I've read some papers from back in the 20s and 30s and I feel confident in saying that exaggeration was pretty common in most stories. There just wasn't the same ability to fact check on a deadline, and frankly what do you think sells more papers, a fire that killed 5 or a fire that killed "scores," a homerun that went 375 feet or one that went 450?

One other thing that pops into my head whenever the dimensions for old parks are listed, is how accurate are those numbers? Even today we have distances on walls that are innacurate, so why whould we believe the old numbers? If anything they are likely to be more innaccurate than today's. Of course the next question is did teams up the numbers or down the numbers with any consistency. My guess would be up them, but who knows.
   45. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:37 PM (#2012620)
bunyon : Look on the bright side. If the ump hadn't blown the call, you would have no reason to tell us the tale of how you once absolutely smoked a ball 450'

:)
   46. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:41 PM (#2012627)
I agree that it is hard to refute the book before reading it, but a newspaper account of a 450' HR when the writer knows that no evidence of the distance exists is hard to take at face value. YMMV

Yes, but a fly to center field at Yankee stadium that is caught 40' in front of wall can be pretty well certified to be 450'.
   47. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:50 PM (#2012632)
and isn't one that can be countered simply with anecdotal generalizations about Ruthian Era sportswriters.

To be fair, Andy, my problem with this evidence isn't to do with an anecdotal generalization about Ruthian Era sportswriters as much as it is to do with sportswriters in general. Also the human tendency to exaggerate. I agree that it is hard to refute the book before reading it, but a newspaper account of a 450' HR when the writer knows that no evidence of the distance exists is hard to take at face value.


You might note that the author used multiple newspaper accounts, which presumably gave him a bit of three-dimensional perspective on some of the more exaggerated claims. I doubt if any of those accounts were taken off the wire services, since by 1918 the Boston and New York papers all had writers traveling with their teams.

I don't disagree with your general point about human nature, but when someone has gone through the trouble to spend thousands of hours perusing thousands of newspaper accounts, I seriously doubt if he's likely to be nothing but a cipher for the most hyperbolic of the writers. IOW, I start with the assumption that he's an honest man, and not a stupid one, and not one with any particular agenda that can't be checked by reading the book and its sources and footnotes.

What I'm seeing here (though not from you) is nothing but a flippant wholesale dismissal of the possibility that the author may actually be onto something, based on little more than what seems to be an idea that the writers of the day all systematically exaggerated Ruth's home runs just for the fun of it, or just to give their readers "what they want." Maybe it's just me, but when an author presents that amount of research, I think that the burden of disproof may be a little more stringent than that. It may actually involve (gasp) doing a bit of research oneself.
   48. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:51 PM (#2012635)
And if you look at the breakdown of Barry Bonds's 450-ft home runs, you might want to apply a bit of that radical skepticism of yours to another set of home run totals. But then even to mention that breakdown shows the writer to be part of the same conspiracy, that Vast Conspiracy to discredit the Immortal Saint of San Francisco and resurrect the ghost of Ruth.

No one cards about Bonds as much as the union. Let's talk about Ruth for a minute, if you can.
   49. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:54 PM (#2012640)
Repoz,

I don't know how much you read these threads, but if you're erading this one, the author's listed home phone number is [Phone number edited]. If you're interested, you might want to alert him to the criticisms here and ask him to respond. I know that other authors like Neyer have done this. It might serve to raise the level of debate here a bit.
   50. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:58 PM (#2012647)
And if you look at the breakdown of Barry Bonds's 450-ft home runs, you might want to apply a bit of that radical skepticism of yours to another set of home run totals. But then even to mention that breakdown shows the writer to be part of the same conspiracy, that Vast Conspiracy to discredit the Immortal Saint of San Francisco and resurrect the ghost of Ruth.

No one cards about Bonds as much as the union. Let's talk about Ruth for a minute, if you can.


That was the first and last time I mentioned the unmentionable, and I can see why it caused you some discomfort, since your skepticism about enlarged home run totals seemed to have miracuously just popped out of the womb about 75 minutes ago.
   51. RP Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:00 PM (#2012649)
What I'm seeing here (though not from you) is nothing but a flippant wholesale dismissal of the possibility that the author may actually be onto something, based on little more than what seems to be an idea that the writers of the day all systematically exaggerated Ruth's home runs just for the fun of it, or just to give their readers "what they want." Maybe it's just me, but when an author presents that amount of research, I think that the burden of disproof may be a little more stringent than that. It may actually involve (gasp) doing a bit of research oneself.

Don't you think you're taking this discussion a bit seriously? So some people are criticizing his research...what's the big deal?
   52. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:04 PM (#2012654)
You might note that the author used multiple newspaper accounts, which presumably gave him a bit of three-dimensional perspective on some of the more exaggerated claims. I doubt if any of those accounts were taken off the wire services
Your right. These won't have been taken from untrustworthy sources like disreputable wire services.

More likely they were the completely independent and thoroughly trustworthy accounts of three friends who sat next to each other in a press box, sipping bourbon and trying to guess how far that last Ruthian blast went.
   53. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:07 PM (#2012656)
Don't you think you're taking this discussion a bit seriously? So some people are criticizing his research...what's the big deal?

I suppose it isn't a big deal, except that you're setting a pretty low standard for the idea of "criticism." But then I suppose that's no big deal either, certainly not on this site.
   54. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:13 PM (#2012663)
Your right. These won't have been taken from untrustworthy sources like disreputable wire services.

More likely they were the completely independent and thoroughly trustworthy accounts of three friends who sat next to each other in a press box, sipping bourbon and trying to guess how far that last Ruthian blast went.


Yeah, that's it. And they all just added 10 feet for every round of drinks and 20 feet for every hooker they spotted in the bleachers.
   55. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:18 PM (#2012666)
So some people are criticizing his research


Actually, they seem to be impugning his intelligence or his character. Or, it's simply internet "reflexive criticism."

BLB aside, b/c he's obviously wet his pants (see post 49 above), most of the comments are of the kind Andy summarizes in multiple posts: they're picking nits about Ruth's RF benefits, about whether sportswriters in Ruth's era were simply pandering, and so on.

Let's accept all those points, arguendo: Yes, Ruth benefited somewhat from the RF in Yankee Stadium, yes people exaggerate distance, yes ..., isn't it still worthwhile and interesting to see the results of the research this author has done? Parks are importantly different than they once were; park dimensions and rule changes obviously will affect HR totals. How? To what degree? How did they affect the most prodigious HR hitter of the time? I find those interesting questions.
   56. Dizzypaco Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:20 PM (#2012667)
Maybe it's just me, but when an author presents that amount of research, I think that the burden of disproof may be a little more stringent than that. It may actually involve (gasp) doing a bit of research oneself.

That would be a good point, if there actually was anything to research. There's not - accurate information about how far a particular ball was hit simply doesn't exist, in any form, from anyone.
   57. Dizzypaco Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:22 PM (#2012668)
Let's accept all those points, arguendo: Yes, Ruth benefited somewhat from the RF in Yankee Stadium, yes people exaggerate distance, yes ..., isn't it still worthwhile and interesting to see the results of the research this author has done? Parks are importantly different than they once were; park dimensions and rule changes obviously will affect HR totals. How? To what degree? How did they affect the most prodigious HR hitter of the time? I find those interesting questions.

Interesting questions that can't be answered, since we have no reliable information about how far any particular ball was hit.
   58. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:25 PM (#2012671)
since we have no reliable information about how far any particular ball was hit


No, that's an assumption you've made and adopted as an article of faith. Presumably the author anticipates this critique and justifies viewing some estimates as reliable for reasons he provides.
   59. . Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:26 PM (#2012674)
I'm not sure its apropos of anything here or if it is, I'm not going to make the effort to figure it out, but home plate at RFK Stadium is for all intents and purposes exactly where it was from 1961-1971. They have white seats in the upper, upper deck in LF where Frank Howard hit balls back then. Eyeballing it only, there's at least eight of them and they are way, way the * up there.

Few hitters (and almost certainly, none ... but I'm trying not to exaggerate), home or away, have come close to hitting one up there since they started playing MLB at RFK in 2005. Small sample size, I know, but RFK denizens know exactly what I'm talking about.

All of which is to say, I guess, that the strongest hitters of bygone eras probably hit the ball every bit as far as the strongest hitters of today, maybe even farther since today's practice isn't to swing with the pronounced uppercut of yesteryear.
   60. bunyon Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:27 PM (#2012677)
Yeah, that's it. And they all just added 10 feet for every round of drinks and 20 feet for every hooker they spotted in the bleachers.

Of course not. He doesn't report a single 12000 foot homer.
   61. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:27 PM (#2012678)
isn't it still worthwhile and interesting to see the results of the research this author has done? Parks are importantly different than they once were; park dimensions and rule changes obviously will affect HR totals. How? To what degree? How did they affect the most prodigious HR hitter of the time? I find those interesting questions.
So do I. But that doesn't mean I will heap praise on attempts to answer those questions, if the methodologies used are basically misguided.

I wouldn't praise an author who attempted to explain era effect by divinating the entrails of chickens, and similarly, I shan't praise an author whose appeals to the authority invested in sports journalists.

One shouldn't write a paper on the metabolic effects of steroids, based on what Harold Baines said about it on SportsCentre -- he's not a reliable source. One shouldn't write a book about the personal qualities of Winston Churchill, based on what The Times wrote about him between 1940 and 1945 -- it was too deeply in everyone's interests to accentuate only the positive.

Sometimes impartial, reliable evidence is impossible to come by. Then we have two options :
i) make inferences from partial (in every sense) unreliable evidence, and present them as facts.
ii) admit that we'll never know.

It is more honest to select Option (ii).
   62. bunyon Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:30 PM (#2012680)
bunyon : Look on the bright side. If the ump hadn't blown the call, you would have no reason to tell us the tale of how you once absolutely smoked a ball 450'

:)


Did I ever tell you about the perfect game I threw that was marred by not one but two dropped foul balls?
   63. RP Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:32 PM (#2012683)
Actually, they seem to be impugning his intelligence or his character.

Nonsense.
   64. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:33 PM (#2012684)
All of which is to say, I guess, that the strongest hitters of bygone eras probably hit the ball every bit as far as the strongest hitters of today, maybe even farther since today's practice isn't to swing with the pronounced uppercut of yesteryear.

And going back a generation or two before Frank Howard, both Foxx and (IIRC) Greenberg hit shots into the farthest reaches of the upper deck in Yankee Stadium, just to the left of the visitor's bullpen. A few feet to the right and the Foxx's ball would have cleared the bleachers---but of course this, too, was just made up by Dan Daniel over a bottle of hooch.
   65. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:36 PM (#2012686)
What you write GWO is entirely off the mark. The author is asking the question: How many HRs would Ruth have hit if he hit in modern parks? He's not asking how many would he have hit against modern pitching, or against blacks, or anything else. He's just asking about a few variables (park size, rule changes, season length). He subtracts for RF in Yankee stadium. He plumbs every source to figure out how long some of his outs were. What's the problem with this?
   66. Human Papelbon Virus Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:37 PM (#2012687)
I don't disagree with your general point about human nature, but when someone has gone through the trouble to spend thousands of hours perusing thousands of newspaper accounts, I seriously doubt if he's likely to be nothing but a cipher for the most hyperbolic of the writers.

Garbage in, garbage out. Regardless of how much work the researcher puts in. He can't change or validate the original reports. That's a valid criticism, and it really makes it difficult to take the estimate seriously. In other words, that estimate probably has extremely large error bars. Which merely makes it possible to conclude that if Ruth played in different ballparks, he may have hit more homeruns. Quite the revelation.
   67. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:38 PM (#2012690)
I'll just add this -

Babe Ruth career at-bats - 8398

Barry Bonds career at-bats - 9209 and counting.

Babe Ruth was an amazing ballplayer.
   68. Daryn Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2012699)
Perfect games are a team concept like earned runs are a team concept for the offense. Despite the fact that earned runs are almost always discussed in the context of the pitcher, they are not about the pitcher at all.

There isn't a definition of a perfect game in the rules. I happen to be, like Andy and many others on this site, a voracious reader about baseball and baseball lore and have been lucky enough to have the chance to talk about this issue and a myriad of others with people in baseball, both broadcast and management. For those that have given the issue any thought, they view the perfect game as necessarily excluding erros on the defensive side of the ball, whether or not they lead to a baserunner. I don't doubt that there are baseball scholars who hold Andy's view. I think they are wrong. But what I guess I take exception to is suggesting that those that disagree with Andy on this somewhat philosophical question are wrong.

It reminds of the changing definition of "suicide squeeze". Up until about 1960, every primer or rulebook (I happen to have a half dozen of them) described it as a bunt with the bases loaded. Now it is generally used to mean a bunt where the runner from third goes on the pitch. Neither definition is wrong. Kind of like American apartheid.
   69. Boots Day Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2012701)
One thing that always makes me suspicious of research like this is when there are obvious factors that can't be quantified, so the researcher simply ignores them. Forget about playing in a segregated league; Ruth also never played a single night game, or faced a relief ace, or a LOOGY. I have no idea how much to adjust Ruth's home run total because of this, and neither does Jenkinson.

The bit about homers curving foul after leaving the playing field fair is interesting. Any of those he hit at Yankee Stadium would almost certainly still be foul balls in today's parks, if you think about it. Parks today have to have foul lines extending at least 300 feet.
   70. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2012702)
Nonsense.


Right, b/c, after all, why else would Jenkinson spend 1000s of hours researching questions that depend on the testimony of drunkards, that have "no reliable evidence?" No, the geniuses at the site, who have neither read teh book, nor done the research themselves, immediately conclude it's nonsense, and nonsense to have pursued the question, and somehow do so w/o questioning the intelligence or character of a man who's devoted significant time and expense to pursuing it.
   71. Honkie Kong Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:47 PM (#2012704)
As a researcher in another field, one of the first things we have to do is state our assumptions, and state the data set we are using for our experiment purposes. More papers than you can count get knocked down just because they don't clearly state the above. People in this thread question the precision of the distance the outs/homers were hit based on eye witness accounts. Colour me less than impressed, if that is all the data the author is working with. Even with multiple eyewitness accounts of the same event, you are not going to get any precision. Everyone saw the homer Dunn hit between the smoke stacks. Anyone want to estimate how far it went?

As an analogy, take the fielding survey Tangotiger was doing on his site. With a large enough input, we can broadly state whether a certain fielder has above average quickness or how good his range is, but would you want to use that to estimate how many runs above average a player is in the field?
   72. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:48 PM (#2012705)
Ruth also never played a single night game, or faced a relief ace, or a LOOGY.

Not getting to face crappy LOOGYs undoubtedly hurt Ruth's totals.
   73. Dizzypaco Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:50 PM (#2012707)
Garbage in, garbage out. Regardless of how much work the researcher puts in. He can't change or validate the original reports. That's a valid criticism, and it really makes it difficult to take the estimate seriously. In other words, that estimate probably has extremely large error bars. Which merely makes it possible to conclude that if Ruth played in different ballparks, he may have hit more homeruns. Quite the revelation.

Its even worse, in that all of the original reports had an incentive to inflate the true number. With a large margin of error, as long as the sources are equally likely to overestimate and underestimate the true totals, there can be some meaning in the numbers. But when most sources are likely to err in the same direction, the results are virtually useless.

No, that's an assumption you've made and adopted as an article of faith. Presumably the author anticipates this critique and justifies viewing some estimates as reliable for reasons he provides.

You're right, its an assumption, but I think its a reasonable assumption, and while it cannot be proven, it cannot be disproven as well.
   74. Honkie Kong Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2012709)
Ruth also never played a single night game, or faced a relief ace, or a LOOGY.

that is not the point under consideration, nor is that the author's claim. The author is simply trying to transpose the 1920s' game onto the modern stage, and trying to estimate how that would effect Ruth's career total.
   75. Kyle S Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2012710)
This thread reminds me of the guy who took Coco Crisp's hit chart, superimposed it onto Fenway Park, and concluded that the Cocster would set the single season home run record. As Tony Kornheiser would say, "How's that working out for him?"
   76. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2012711)
Garbage in, garbage out. Regardless of how much work the researcher puts in. He can't change or validate the original reports. That's a valid criticism, and it really makes it difficult to take the estimate seriously. In other words, that estimate probably has extremely large error bars. Which merely makes it possible to conclude that if Ruth played in different ballparks, he may have hit more homeruns.

That's quite a deflation, from the author's estimate of 1150 to your "may have hit more home runs." You might as well say that the parks "may have been a tad bigger then, but we can't really tell."

IOW while a certain amount of skepticism may be warranted as to that 1150 estimate, it might be best to read the book before just throwing your hands up in the air with an air of pseudo-scientific certainty that there's nothing more to be added to our knowledge of Ruth's home runs.
   77. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2012712)
Am I wrong, or are we all arguing about the same thing. It's one thing to guess how far a ball was hit when it bounces off a bleacher or hits a smoke stack, but when a RFer catches it standing in front of a 440' sign, or a center fielder in front of a 460' sign, aren't we talking about something different?

For those that have given the issue any thought,


That's good stuff. Your problem, Andy, is that you've not given the issue any thought!
   78. Daryn Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2012713)
FWIW, pretty much every definition on the internet refers to no walks, no hits, no errors. Not no walks, no hits, no errors that result in a baserunner.
   79. Benji Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:52 PM (#2012714)
The biggest advantage I can see for Ruth is that in his day a superstar pitcher could be made an everyday RF. That would never even be considered today.

For those handwringers crying out for George Herman, I say to you what I said to the Aaron haters circa 1974. "No matter if Henry hits 900 homers, a thousand years from now a Little League coach will yell out 'hey, shorten up that swing! You think you're Babe Ruth??'"
   80. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:53 PM (#2012715)
Its even worse, in that all of the original reports had an incentive to inflate the true number.


Really? You have evidence for this assertion?
   81. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#2012717)
The biggest advantage I can see for Ruth is that in his day a superstar pitcher could be made an everyday RF. That would never even be considered today.

Unless you're Rick Ankiel.
   82. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#2012718)
Despite comments to the contrary I am NOT old enough to have seen Ruth play. I did see plenty of the guys who are on the leader board for home runs, and I am pretty comfortable in writing that just about ALL of them would have benefitted from today's surroundings.

You put Eddie Matthews or Hank in current Miller Park and things are going to get interesting. Heck, put Joe Adcock in there and expect a 50 homer season. Old County Stadium in Milwaukee was tough on the long ball.

Willie McCovey would definitely benefit. Killer too.

As for my distance estimating abilities I can tell you how many feet, yards, or rods I am from a particular object with a fair degree of accuracy. I think it's the combination of hunting and the need to be able to judge how long it will take to do a job around the farm that has helped develop this skill.

By the way, for those not aware a rod = 5.5 yards.

I can also judge area in square feet, yards, or acres if needed. Lot of survey work over the years. Farm life, it's a special education all its own.
   83. Daryn Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#2012719)
For those that have given the issue any thought,

This is unlike you JC. You took that out of context. The those in that sentence referred to people I have talked to about this topic, not Andy.
   84. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:56 PM (#2012720)
that is not the point under consideration, nor is that the author's claim. The author is simply trying to transpose the 1920s' game onto the modern stage, and trying to estimate how that would effect Ruth's career total.


Right.
   85. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:56 PM (#2012721)
Garbage in, garbage out. Regardless of how much work the researcher puts in. He can't change or validate the original reports.

Has anyone here seen the data that the author uses? Anyone? Bueller?

It seems curious that so many people are willing to dismiss the information Jenkinson uses because it is based on biased, second-hand testimony, having apparently come to their conclusions based only on the information contained in this article, which is equally biased and second-hand.
   86. Boots Day Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:57 PM (#2012722)
What you write GWO is entirely off the mark. The author is asking the question: How many HRs would Ruth have hit if he hit in modern parks?

No, he's not. Or at least, the author of the article doesn't think he's doing that. From Berardino's article: "Instead we're talking about the estimated 1,150 home runs Ruth would have hit if he'd had the good fortune to play in Bonds' era rather than from 1914-35."

Bonds' era consists of a lot more than modern parks.
   87. Human Papelbon Virus Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:57 PM (#2012723)
Right, b/c, after all, why else would Jenkinson spend 1000s of hours researching questions that depend on the testimony of drunkards, that have "no reliable evidence?" No, the geniuses at the site, who have neither read teh book, nor done the research themselves, immediately conclude it's nonsense, and nonsense to have pursued the question, and somehow do so w/o questioning the intelligence or character of a man who's devoted significant time and expense to pursuing it.

JC, spare us the drama. No one is questioning the intelligence or character of the guy. How about engaging in a little critical thinking? How reliable are these estimates? The validity of the author's conclusions can <u>never</u> exceed the reliability of the data. That's just how it is.
   88. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:58 PM (#2012724)
This is unlike you JC. You took that out of context. The those in that sentence referred to people I have talked to about this topic, not Andy.


You know, I didn't read it that way, but I see that that's what you meant. I apologize for that. Honestly, I thought you were saying anybody who thinks about the issue agrees with you. That's usually my line.
   89. G.W.O. Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:58 PM (#2012725)
He plumbs every source to figure out how long some of his outs were. What's the problem with this?
That there are no reliable sources. We may as well say
"We've plumbed every reliable source, and we've decided that Noah rely did live to age 900, and really did fit 7 of every clean animal onto a really big boat."
   90. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:58 PM (#2012726)
Daryn,

To the extent that there is no rulebook definition of a perfect game, you're right. But when the first record book, or the first ESPN gabber, tries to keep a pitcher out of its list of perfect game pitchers because of a dropped foul ball, I think we'll see the issue resolved very quickly. I might add that my "expert" who took your side of the issue was immediately shot down by everyone else within his hearing range, in a gathering which included quite a few other serious baseball aficianados.
   91. Dizzypaco Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:00 PM (#2012729)
Really? You have evidence for this assertion?

Leigh Montville was on Mike y Mad Dog pumping his new Babe Ruth book...and said that back in the day when NY had a dozen or so papers...they would all try to out do each other with embellishing glee on Ruth's taters.

That is evidence - evidence of an incentive, which is all I'm trying to say. Its perfectly logical to assume that writers in the 1920's had an incentive to inflate the distances of Ruth's home runs in their newspaper accounts.
   92. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:00 PM (#2012730)
Its even worse, in that all of the original reports had an incentive to inflate the true number.

In fact, how do we know that Ruth even hit 714 home runs? I bet he hit 400 or so and the Yankees would simply bribe the scorekeepers to turn some of his doubles into home runs. After all, if the Yankees won the game, who cares how much they won by?
   93. Biscuit_pants Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:01 PM (#2012731)
One thing that always makes me suspicious of research like this is when there are obvious factors that can't be quantified, so the researcher simply ignores them. Forget about playing in a segregated league; Ruth also never played a single night game, or faced a relief ace, or a LOOGY. I have no idea how much to adjust Ruth's home run total because of this, and neither does Jenkinson.
Then we can never really quantify anything. The talent pool does not include every possible country or even every athlete within this country. And rule changes are bound to change as are techniques and maybe even a new pitch or two.

There are also arguments that can make Ruth's time look a little better. There were less teams so the league wasn't as watered down as today. Even though the talent pool was less because of the things mentioned earlier there were very few competing interest. Ruth swung an inferior bat than we have today. A ball that was not wound as tight. He played less games in a season. The parks were bigger. And he couldn't wear body armor.

You cannot take the things that make today's game harder without looking at what makes today’s games easier.
   94. Human Papelbon Virus Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:01 PM (#2012732)
It seems curious that so many people are willing to dismiss the information Jenkinson uses because it is based on biased, second-hand testimony, having apparently come to their conclusions based only on the information contained in this article, which is equally biased and second-hand.

Whether I saw the data or not, I would have no way to validate it. Nor would anyone else. That is the problem here.
   95. Daryn Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:01 PM (#2012733)
FWIW, pretty much every definition on the internet refers to no walks, no hits, no errors. Not no walks, no hits, no errors that result in a baserunner.

To be fair, on a further review of the internet (using different search terms) there are at least as many sites that focus on the no runners reaching base as opposed to the no errors. Just more people who will be surprised when your hypothetical pitcher in post 91 gets jobbed out of the record books. :)
   96. rr Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:02 PM (#2012734)
This is an interesting premise, but basing so much of it on HR distance estimates--and the inflated nature of the claim--make the conclusion suspect at best, IMO. If you add this to Berardino's obvious agenda in writing the article, ("Sorry, Barry") I think the criticism is warranted based on what we can see here. When the book is out, I will be interested to see some reviews of the book itself written by people who do not relexively jump on the side of anything that indirectly demeans Bonds.
   97. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:02 PM (#2012735)
No one is questioning the intelligence or character of the guy. How about engaging in a little critical thinking?


Absolutely you are questioning his intelligence (at least) if you think the author didn't consider your "little critical thinking." I find it remarkable that y'all think the guy's research wasn't precisely to be as precise as the evidence permits him re the distances of Ruth's outs. I find it enormously UNCRITICAL on y'all's parts that you simply assume that must be simply unreliable. If a Boston writer and a New York writer indepedently describe Ruth as flying out to the deepest part of Yankee stadium, has that no meaning for you? Do you think they're equally exaggerating a pop out? Couldn't we conclude Ruth belted it well over 400'?
   98. Honkie Kong Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:05 PM (#2012736)
when a RFer catches it standing in front of a 440' sign, or a center fielder in front of a 460' sign, aren't we talking about something different?

how many balls are caught at the wall??? as someone said earlier in the thread, if the cf wall at yankee stadium was at 490, how are you going to estimate that the player caught the fly 40 ft from the wall or 60 ft from the wall? People also routinely mis-estimate distances because the ball is a high fly as opposed to a line drive. I am not aware of the author's methodology, and as I said, I would be skeptical of the results if it only included eye witness accounts.
   99. JC in DC Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:05 PM (#2012737)
Guys: It's not based on HR distance estimates, but on OUT distance estimates. Why would you add a HR based on the estimate of the distance of a HR? He's finding out what Ruth's outs and fouls were, to the extent possible. If one "hit the top of the wall in center", he's putting that in the HR pile. Is that unreliable? Is that exaggeration?
   100. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:07 PM (#2012738)
Quickest non-steroid or non-PETCO thread ever to approach 100, at least in my recollection.
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