Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Reply to Phillip Klein's Question About Babe Ruth

Commenting yesterday about Mark McGwire's admission to using steroids, Philip Klein of The American Spectator brought Roger Maris & Babe Ruth into the discussion:

And when Roger Maris hit 61 homers in 1961, he had 162 games to work with (and it took him 159 to get to 60). So should Babe Ruth still reign supreme as the single-season home run king, having hit 60 in 1927 in only a 154-game season?


If that was the case then every single season record should be subject to that standard not just home runs. For instance, Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners set a single season record for hits when he collected 262 in 2004. It broke the record set by George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns who in 1920 collected 257 hits. Ichiro played in 161 games while Sisler played in 154.

Now if one wanted to make an argument for an asterik this would be it. After all, hits come in greater frequency than home runs. Yet when Ichiro was approaching Sisler, Commissioner Bud Selig dismissed the idea out of hand:

Ichiro was given a season to set a record and if he gets it, I will honor it with all the respect it deserves. This is an amazing accomplishment that Ichiro is pursuing. There will be no asterisk, I can assure you of that.

As it stands, Roger Maris still holds the single season home run record in the American League.

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