The Two Most Versatile Baseball Players

Babe Ruth started with the Boston Red Sox from 1914 to 1919.  In 1918, the team gradually shifted him from pitcher to outfielder.  His efforts as a pitcher rank him among  the best of his day.  His overall record with Boston was 89-46, an ERA of 2.19, and 14 shutouts.  Ruth  played in two World Series with the Red Sox; against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1916 and the Chicago Cubs in 1918.  His record was 3-0 with an almost invisible ERA of .87.  Whitey Ford in 1961 broke Babe Ruth’s record of pitching 29 consecutive scoreless innings in a World Series.

Remember too that Ruth pitched at Fenway Park, a left hander’s nightmare; and he never played a night game and balls travel more easily during the day.  This made his pitching really great.

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Switch hitting and bunting are normally the attributes of spray hitters with high batting averages, good speed, but with little power and rare home runs.  Examples are Maury Wills, Larry Bowa,  and Pete Rose.  Rose averaged seven home runs per year but his early years at compact Crosley Field boosted his average.; but the very first bunter and switcher hitter was Mickey Mantle.  Mantle’s left handed bunting was more effective than from the right; but he had more power swinging from the right.

At first thought,  it might seem odd to have a good home run hitter bunting.  A few years ago I met Bert Campenaris, who played for the Oakland A’s in the their dynasty years of the early 70s.  This was in nearby Chaparral Park.  He said that Mickey Mantle often bunted to break out of a slump.   Mantle, like most home run hitters, struck out often. A bunt hit often restored his rhythm and confidence.       

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