Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The inluence of Babe Ruth in Cuba

This is a sort of, somewhat, semi-interesting piece about the effects Babe Ruth had Cuban baseball. It's a decent write-up, and I don't particularly have any issues with it.

The author states that Ty Cobb had a bigger influence in Cuba than Babe did:
If appearing frequently in the sport pages of newspapers and magazines is an indication of popularity and influence, one has to reach the conclusion that, at least through the early twenties the most admired and watched American player in Cuba was Ty Cobb. Cobb’s name and achievements were regularly highlighted and chronicled. The reason for this may be that the “Georgia Peach” barnstormed in Cuba a couple of times or more, and of course, at least for Cubans, that his racial attitudes were not well known at that time. I can conclusively say that the Ty Cobb style of game, what I would call the “Cobbean Baseball,” was imitated by Cuban players and admired by legions of Cuban fans. Many years later, in the 50’s and 60’s I knew many old Cuban baseball fans who were loyal fans of the Detroit Tigers entirely because of Ty Cobb.
That actually makes alot of sense to me, and I'm not for or against either player being the biggest influence. I don't think it really matters. What I have an issue with is the subjective manner of research he used:

My tools for the project were as follows:
1. A study of Cuban magazines and newspapers collections from 1908 through 1935, when Ruth retired.
2. A questionnaire that was mailed to 50 players, including, non Cubans, such as Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Venezuelans and Mexicans.
3. A study of Cuban records and playing fields, and
4. My vivid recollections which date from 1938 when my father who, at times, acted as ex-officio Commissioner of Cuban Baseball in the 30’s, took me to see the Saint Louis Cardinals play two Cuban professional teams on one golden October afternoon which will forever remain in my memory.
As someone who was a history major in school, I've done some papers myself, and in other aspects of life. I'm not saying he's wrong, I just think it's very subjective.

One issue I do have is this:

One must remember that Baseball was introduced in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and perhaps even in Venezuela, by Cubans and not Americans. [1]
I don't agree with that, as that's making the assumption, in my mind, that baseball developed independently from the United States. The same reason baseball developed and grew in Cuba was the same reason it did in the other countries. An American presence. There were American military stationed in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for long periods of time, and Americans working in the oil and mining industry had been in Venezuela since before the turn of the century.

I understand he's proud of baseball in Cuba, he's fallen into the trap of - "I'll knock down your accomplishments and heroes to make mine look better." I would expect better from a university professor.

He goes on to make a valid point about Babe Ruth's influence on Cuban baseball, mainly in hitting homeruns, and I don't disagree with the conclusion. The destination is fine. It's the journey that needs to be looked at again.

1 comment:

Babe Ruth Baseball Cards said...

Interesting analysis. Hard to imagine anyone overshadowing Ruth, but if anyone it would be Cobb...