Commentary

N.Y.'s America's No. 1 slugger: Ruth

The Babe is Big Apple's home run derby champ -- and we'll put him up against anyone

Updated: July 11, 2011, 1:23 PM ET
By Matt Marrone | ESPNNewYork.com

Editor's note: In celebration of tonight's Home Run Derby (8 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN3.com and ESPN New York 1050), each of the ESPN local sites are selecting their city's Top 10 sluggers and crowning an all-time home run king.

The Bambino. The Sultan of Swat. The Colossus of Clout.

Who is bigger than The Babe?

No one, that's who, and that includes not only the sluggers who have stepped to the plate in the Big Apple, but those who have swung the bat in all the baseball towns across this country -- whether they have ESPN local sites yet or not.

When it comes to New York's all-time home run derby champ, not to mention the national pastime's premier power hitter, there's only one choice: George Herman Ruth.

Ruth is synonymous with the phrase "home run," and for good reason: During the roaring '20s, no one hit the ball over the wall like The Babe. In 1927, when he slugged 60 home runs in a 154-game season, Ruth outhomered every other team in the American League.

Baseball fans have heard that fact a million times, but think about it: Babe Ruth 60, Philadelphia A's 55.

Not impressed? How about Babe Ruth 60, Cleveland Indians 26.

Babe Ruth is your much older brother, crashing your backyard Whiffle ball game and making you cry. He's the kid twice your size whose birthday falls in such a way that he still qualifies for Little League -- when he should be in Class A ball. He's the guy who can beat you with one hand tied behind his back and then get on the mound and strike you out, too.

In other words, he's the quintessential New York Yankee.

While we all know that Ruth played in a different era, when black players were unforgivably banned and there were none of today's performance-enhancing drugs, Ruth remains to this day a hardball icon, known to baseball diehards and strangers to the game alike.

There's a reason for that: He's the greatest slugger of all time.

Ruth may or may not have called his shot at Wrigley Field in the 1932 World Series, but there's more black ink on the back of his baseball card than anyone who's ever played. And though some of his most famous records have fallen, his .690 career slugging percentage and 1.164 OPS are still the best in history -- steroids, hot dogs, or whatever.

He is, beyond a doubt, the slugger most worthy of the No. 1 spot in New York, and that makes him, almost by default -- but definitely by reputation, by statistics and by common sense -- the greatest of them all.

Who rounds out New York's all-time Top 10? Click here to find out.

Matt Marrone is a senior editor at ESPNNewYork.com. He helped launch the site in 2010 after six years as a web sports editor and reporter at the New York Daily News.
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