Who Do You Believe Was Really the Greatest: Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth?

July 5, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

 Some say he revived the game of baseball. A game that surely needed resurrection in the early 1920’s. The Black Sox scandal had just crashed the game beyond repair.

Babe Ruth swung his bat with a vengence and broke Roger Conner’s lifetime home run record of 158 while smashing out 59 homers in 1921.

Prior to 1920, the most home runs in a season was 24. Gavvy Cravath, outfielder of the National League Phillies, established that new Major League record for round trippers in 1915.

Ruth pushed the home run category into a new dimension as Cobb continued to press for the hit-and-run, the steal, the squeeze play, and pressed for endurance records set by both Honus Wagner and Wee Willie Keeler.

Ruth continued to build a dynasty and secured his place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame—not yet created, physically.

His record of 60 home runs set in 1927 helped to solidify his plaque in the Hall and helped to build one of the most unforgettable Yankee teams in franchise history.

The ’27 Yankees are still incomparable to even modern teams winning an astounding 110 games, second only to the 1998 team. On both ocasions, the 26-time world champs blanked their opponents in the fall classic.

Ruth and Cobb both carried their clubs to victory on the heels of defeat. With the swing of the bat from Ruth or the pitcher taking his eyes off Cobb at third for too long could spell defeat.

The two were harsh rivalries in the early ’20s when Ruth began to truly blossom and Cobb was trying to scratch out a path to the world series for his pitching-stricken Tigers.

Ruth contributed to Cobb’s demise on April 14, 1922 when Ruth took the mound and hit three homers and sent Cobb down swinging. Cobb bounced back and had an unbelievable .422 season as the Yankees won the American League pennant, but lost to the Giants in five games.

Cobb and Ruth’s stats were both incredible. Cobb has always had Ruth outnumbered in records, but Ruth equaled Cobb in producing runs which, to me, helps to determine the value of a player to his team. 

Cobb influenced aspiring hitters and Ruth inspired people of all walks of life. 

Cobb was wanted by every Major League club, even in retirement, and Ruth could not live out his dream as a big league manager. In the end, they both had their followers and both knew the value of their legacy.

This has always created a perpetual debate among fans and historians of the game—”Who was the greater of the two players?” While I believe that Cobb lent more value to his team by his accomplishments, I will never depreciate Ruth’s contribution to his team.

After both greats retired, a golf match was staged by the PGA president. The match was to benefit the USO and other charities, while giving Cobb and Ruth a chance to settle the debate once and for all.

Cobb won the first match and Ruth returned the favor on the 19th hole in round two. After a significant delay, the final match was set for Detroit. Cobb won the match with ease and settled the “who’s the best?” debate.

Or did he? That’s true!

A golf match will never settle a baseball debate, so the argument goes on.

Ruth, remained friends with Cobb until he passed away in the summer of 1948. As he could be found at times, Cobb was emotional by the death of the great slugger and he wepted.

Cobb died on July 17, 1961, and up until his death, a multitude of baseball fans believed that he had far exceeded the realm of any other player in baseball history.

He surpassed even Ruth to become the very first player ever inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1936. To Mr. Cobb, that was enough.

But is it enough for the modern day umpire? You make the call!

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