Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Babe Ruth hits 60th Homer

NOTE: This is a repost of my blog. My original copy, which I posted on March 8, somehow got deleted.

On September 30, 1927, New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth hit his historic sixtieth home run in Yankee Stadium, breaking his 1921 record of 59. Around this time, the issue of objectivity arose as journalists began questioning the capability of facts to hold their own ground. During this period, “a sense of community or of the public had no transcendent significance and… one responded to other people as objects” (Schudson, 121). But newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times helped to establish New York’s sense in community following Ruth’s accomplishment. While The Post simply presents inning-by-inning coverage, The Times captures the significance of Ruth’s home run to not just the city of New York, but to Ruth himself, especially after the suggestion that “the King of Clout would have to postpone his record breaking clout.”[1]

Though both stories feature one picture of Ruth and none of either the home run or the celebration afterwards, reading about “the spirit of celebration [that] permeated the place”[2] can substitute for those pictures. Furthermore, readers may experience a great feeling that was felt when Barry Bonds hit his record 756th home run in 2007, breaking Hank Aaron’s previous record of 755. The Times also incorporates the exploits of Manhattan resident Joe Forner, who happened to catch the ball that night. The story also contains a very intriguing aspect: Emphasis on Washington Senators pitcher Tom Zachary as Ruth’s “victim.”[3] It’s stated that after Zachary failed to strike Ruth out, he “turned to his mates for consolation and got everything but that.”[4] Amidst all the celebration that occurred in Yankee Stadium, the writer momentarily focuses on Zachary’s disappointment and his infamous recognition as the man who pitched Babe Ruth his sixtieth home run.

Surprisingly, both articles lack comments from Babe Ruth, his fellow teammates, and the fans. While it’s great to read about Ruth’s happiness as he ran all the bases “with a grin a yard wide on his face,”[5] it would have been better to hear him discuss what thoughts were running through his mind as he was up to bat, as Bonds did minutes after hitting his 756th home run. Probably the most interesting comments would have come from Zachary himself, but his disappointment at the end of the game would most likely indicate that he didn’t have any. Still, any comments could have produced what Yumi Wilson, my newswriting professor, called “kicker endings” for both stories.

Ruth’s recognition following the home run is reminiscent of that received by Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao. Whenever he steps into the ring, even if anything isn’t mentioned in an article, photos are usually provided showing all the excitement and pandemonium his fans in the Philippines create whenever he wins, just as the fans at Yankee Stadium did for Ruth. In a country that is unfortunately plagued by poverty, Pacquiao brings hope to all the Filipinos as “the people’s champion,” and while Ruth may have not been given that prestigious title, he may have brought hope into some of the lives of the people who saw him play ball. Whether they boxed or played baseball, both men showed the world why they’re true champions and heroes.

[1] “Ruth Hits 60th Home Run To Break His Own Record.” The Washington Post. Oct. 1, 1927. pp. 15
[2] “Ruth Crashes 60th To Set New Record.” The New York Times. Oct. 1, 1927. pp. 12.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] “Ruth Hits 60th Home Run To Break His Own Record.” The Washington Post. Oct. 1, 1927. pp. 15

1 comment:

  1. This post was nice, I think it brings up an interesting comparison between the Newspaper coverage of Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth; two great players from totaly differant eras. Babe Ruth was doing it during the Great Depression years, when the public was in desperate need of a hero, or at least some kind of fun distraction, to take their minds off of hard times. The Babe gave the public what they wanted on simple easy-to-understand baseball terms. The Newspapers liked the positive P.R. they got by publishing good news or at least by not reporting bad news or no news. I think that mostly though Babe Ruth was entertaining and that helped to sell newspapers.
    Barry Bonds was entertaining for newspaper readers too, and he still is in his steroid controversy. I think that some of the credit for the publics interest in Bonds, and subsequent media coverage of him and especialy his home run chase, actualy lies in what Babe Ruth did and the media coverage of his home-run quest. The coverage of Ruth was that of a national hero while bonds was just a baseball hero. America's involvement in coverage of Ruth, solidified Baseball as America's favorite pastime.