Comments on: Bloops: Justice John Paul Stevens on Ruth’s Called Shot This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: MikeD Tue, 30 Nov 2010 22:11:55 +0000 @8, Mike Felber -- I agree that the "Called Shot," as told to us baseball fans as kids, was a myth. There was no majestic, pointing to the CF bleachers, with Ruth telling everyone in earshot that he was going to hit the next pitch out to the exact spot he was pointing. Even as a kid, I questioned the story. While I can believe someone like Ruth might say he's going to hit a HR, I was more surprised he'd be foolish enough to say exactly where it was going to land.

Then when the two separate amateur videos of the HR were discovered in the 80s and 90s, both confirmed that, yes, Ruth did gesture, but also seemed to indicate that he wasn't pointing to the CF bleachers, so therefore the myth was busted, or seemed likely busted since neither video can give us a clear decision on exactly where he was pointing, let alone what he actually said. The latter part will never be known, but it the most important part of the story.

So for a good decade, I was in the camp that Ruth didn't make the Called Shot, but then I thought it through again and realized I was basing my opinion on what I had been told, and since the videos didn't quite match what I was told, I accepted the story wasn't true. I've now read many accounts of what people saw and heard, and I'm now inching back into the camp that he basically did call the shot in one manner, but he just didn't point to where it was going.

More so than the videos, which to me are inconclusive, the most important item is what exactly did Ruth say right before the pitch. This is the confusing part, since the pitcher, the catcher, the umpire, and Lou Gehrig on deck, gave varying accounts over the years on what Ruth said. If there are different accounts, that says to me people might not telling the truth, or their memories are faulty, or they’ve allowed themselves to be influenced by the myth, or they just didn't clearly hear what Ruth said. The last might be the most likely. Ruth was jabbering away the entire AB, so the different recollections might have more to do with what they heard at some point in Ruth's AB, maybe not right before he hit the HR.

I would put more faith in the man physically closest to Ruth, catcher Gabby Hartnett, who denied that Ruth called the shot, yet what Hartnett heard may very well support what Ruth intended to do. Hartnett, along with some others, believe that Ruth pointed either toward pitcher Root, or the Cubs dugout, and said something like "all it takes is one pitch," or "one to hit" or some variation of that which has been reported. Ruth then he hit the next pitch out and ran around the bases taunting the Cubs. If that sequence is correct, then I have a hard time believing he didn't accomplish exactly what he meant to accomplish, which was to hit a HR on the next pitch.

So it may just be that he didn't point to where the ball was going, but his intent was to hit a HR on the next pitch, which is what he did.

The beauty of it all is, even with the videos, no one really knows for sure to this very day. And no one ever will!

By: Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Tue, 30 Nov 2010 20:59:17 +0000 POST #7 was simply the result of channeling my inner Casey Stengel, not a political comment. . . .:)

By: Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Tue, 30 Nov 2010 20:55:44 +0000 REPLY TO MIKE FELBER: I'm not sure if the historian you refer to is the author, but I recenty read a book about Babe Ruth's home run power, specifically how he consistenty hit the ball farther, not just more often, than his contemporaries. Different rules back then robbed him of a significant number of HR's, because the ball was called "foul" if it landed foul/out-of-play beyond the fence ("...when last seen by the umpire" was how balls were called if they left the ball park and the ump couldn't see where it landed). A pocketful of Babe's shots would have flown over the buildings across the street at Wrigley Field, and landed in the next block toward Lake Michigan. Whether he called his shot can be debated, but there's no doubt Babe could have done it. . .

By: Douglas Heeren Tue, 30 Nov 2010 13:57:25 +0000 I have had a hard time believing anything that someone who spent his career in Washington D.C. says. Judges and politics smell of lies as far as I'm concerned.

By: Cabriael Tue, 30 Nov 2010 09:26:00 +0000 Of course it's just 'a man's' opinion, as long as it's not your sacred umpire.

By: Mike Felber Tue, 30 Nov 2010 07:23:09 +0000 Great post Phil.

Chuck, I heard that Ruth basically went along with the story, not that the gesture was towards Herman. But it makes perfect sense. no question the called shot is a myth. But what is more amazing is that Ruth seems to have legitimately hit the ball further than anyone else: before modern training, weight or otherwise, using absurdly heavy bats & grueling travel.

Check out "Baseball's Ultimate Power" by baseball historian Bob Jenkinson. He uses physics, old microfilm, eyewitness accounts, etc... to determine seemingly with great accuracy who hit the best shots ever. Back to the 19th Century.

By: Phil Haberkorn Tue, 30 Nov 2010 00:09:54 +0000 As for Mr. Stevens's opinion, I'm more than a little hesitant to place much faith in the word of somebody who spent his entire career sitting on the bench. Why is it we never hear about the Supreme Court's starters, it's always the ones on the bench who are issuing opinions? Now, the King and His Court, now there's a guy who knew the game, I'd take Eddie Feighner's word for it any day, even if he did pitch blindfolded a lot of the time, which come to think of it, his record is probably a darned sight better than that blindfolded lady with the scales, no matter what her opinion is, and by the way, Bobby Scales blindfolded probably knows more about it than a bench-warming judge, even if he was named after a Pope or two and look what good it did him, 60 minutes targets him for one of their ambush interviews and didn't even give him time to put his robe on......And come to think of it, why wasn't that World Series televised, did they already have blackout restrictions back then?????

By: Austyn Mon, 29 Nov 2010 20:55:00 +0000 Regardless of what he did on the bench, he looks great for being 90 years old!

By: Chuck Mon, 29 Nov 2010 19:06:41 +0000 The centerfielder for the Cubs that day, Johnny Moore, was from my hometown. He owned a batting cage in town and on occasion he would be there himself. He was in his 70's then but would always walk around giving tips and would talk about his career if asked.

Obviously, the topic of Ruth's called shot would come up in just about every conversation.

I heard him talk about it maybe six, seven times over a period of five years or so, and his story never changed.

He said Ruth's gesture was to second baseman Billy Herman, who had been on his case the whole series.

As Moore told it, Herman had relayed in the clubhouse Ruth had yelled a threat to "get him", which was interpreted to mean he would try and take him out on a play at second and the gesture was meant as a warning.

Moore said there was no mention, either after the game or before the next day's game, of a called shot.

Only afterwards, when the media and some in attendance "interpreted" the gesture to mean something else did it become a story.

Ruth himself echoed Moore's recounting and even went so far as to say the event made for a good story and he wasn't going to ruin it.

The "called shot" is a myth of Sidd Finch-ian proportions.

By: Mike S. Mon, 29 Nov 2010 19:05:46 +0000 Considering some of Stevens' rulings while on the bench, I don't want to hear ANYTHING from him regarding baseball.