Shouler: How baseball robs Babe Ruth to benefit Alex Rodriguez

From SABR member Kenneth Shouler at the New York Daily News on August 3, 2015:

Babe Ruth played his last game in 1935, and he died 67 years ago this month. So one would expect that his ledger is set. But now it turns out that retirement and death have robbed him of a large portion of his pre-1920s batting record. Major League Baseball, deferring to its official statistician, the Elias Sports Bureau, deems that Ruth’s runs-batted-in totals before 1920 don’t count (though his homers still do), since RBIs “weren’t recognized” then.

It’s curious that grave-robbing Ruth of his hard-won stats should be timed to coincide with a fresh celebration of an Alex Rodriguez “accomplishment” — namely, the celebration by the Yankees and mainstream media of his supposed passing of Ruth’s reduced total of 1,994 runs batted in, instead of the accurate mark of 2,214.

The fabrication of this faux milestone shows that baseball in 2015 still has an inscrutable and immoral relationship with its history. By shortchanging Ruth, baseball buoys its cheaters’ records, which now bear the imprimatur of “official” achievements.

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Originally published: August 6, 2015. Last Updated: August 6, 2015.