Two of Baseball’s Greatest: Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds

High School Studies Compare and Contrast Essay for English 101 (11/8/2004)

Babe Ruth Barry BondsThe sports industry is one of the most profitable industries in the United States. What’s America’s number one pastime? Baseball. Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds are the two most dominant baseball players to ever play the game, and both have had a huge impact on not only baseball, but all of America.

Babe Ruth’s and Barry Bonds’ statistics are both absolutely phenomenal. Babe Ruth was baseball’s first great slugger and the most celebrated athlete of his time. His career 714 home runs is second all time, only to Hank Aaron. Ruth changed the home run from being a rarity in baseball, to being one of the defining factors of a player’s value. Ruth led the major leagues in home runs twelve out of the nineteen years he played, and held the single season home run record from 1919 to 1961 with a career high of 60 home runs (Babe Ruth Baseball 1).  He still holds the record for most total bases in a season, 457, and highest slugging percentage in a season, .847 (Worth 1). Ruth was not only an extraordinary hitter, he was also one of the best pitchers of his time. Ruth was one of the most diverse athletes to ever play baseball. In the years he pitched, he finished with a total of 89 wins and 46 losses. His career ERA, earned runs allowed per nine innings, of 2.28, is 15th all time (Babe Ruth Baseball 1). Barry Bonds is the most dominant player of his era. He holds the current record for home runs in a season with a mind boggling 73 home runs. Furthermore, Bonds’ 703 home runs is third all time, and with a few more years left to play, Bonds will likely become the all time leader in home runs. Bonds is such a dominant hitter that other teams rarely pitch to him anymore, for fear of allowing a home run. This is most evident in record setting 232 walks, which he set last season. Bobby Abreu was second in walks last year with only 127, barely more than half of what Bonds achieved. In addition, Bonds already holds the career record for walks with 2302. Bonds, like Ruth, is also a multidimensional player. He is not only a good hitter, he is an excellent defensive fielder and base runner as well. Bonds has won eight gold gloves, an award given to the best fielders, in his career. As far as base running, Bonds is the only baseball player to hit 400 home runs and steal 400 bases (Barry Bonds Baseball 1). Ruth and Bonds are the two most dominant baseball players to ever live.

While Bonds and Ruth were alike in that they were both great players on the field, they have many differences as well. First, Ruth was born in the eastern part of America. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland in a poor neighborhood to a lower class family. Early in his childhood, Ruth was an average looking kid, and showed no evidence of being the slugger he became (Babe Ruth A&E 1). On the other side, Bonds was born in Riverside, California to an upper class family. Barry’s father Bobby Bonds was an above average player in the major leagues, and his godfather Willie Mays is one of the best to ever play baseball. Bonds was an outstanding athlete as a child and all sports came easy to him. It was evident he would be great at whatever sport he focused on (Digiovanna 1). Secondly, the two players were looked at very differently by their teammates. Ruth was liked and well respected by his teammates and fans. Ruth was quoted in saying, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime (Babe Ruth Quotes 1).” He knew that to win baseball games you must play as a team not as individuals. Bonds has been described as arrogant, rude, moody, aloof, uncooperative, and as a jerk. What’s more is Bonds has also been known to not only infuriate his opponents, but his teammates as well. Bonds is more interested in personal success than team success, much like many of today’s athletes (Digiovanna 1).

Bonds and Ruth both have had, and still have a large impact on American society. Ladies, gentleman, and children of all ages love and follow sports. Ruth changed the game of baseball by making the home run what it now is. Youngsters strive to be like him and hope they can someday be as good as he was. Unfortunately, some of Ruth’s habits off the field weren’t something children should be following. Ruth was well known for his smoking, over drinking, use of chewing tobacco, and also for being with multiple women. Due to his tobacco problem, Ruth was diagnosed with throat cancer and died in 1948 at the young age of 53. All of this aside, Ruth did some great things for America while he was still alive and playing in the major leagues. He made headlines for plenty of charitable actions, such as visiting sick children in hospitals. He also came up with the Babe Ruth Foundation for underprivileged children, which he once was (Babe Ruth A&E 1). Bonds impact on American society has not been all too great. There is much speculation that Bonds is using steroids, or some kind of performance enhancing drug. Steroids are becoming in all to common problem in sports. Professional athletes feel the need to use steroids to catch up with their competition. Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti have come out in saying they think that 50% of baseball players are using steroids. Young kids and high school athletes look up to these superstars, especially Barry Bonds, and mimic their actions. Young players are now using these drugs because they feel, in order to be like Bonds, they must. Steroids have many short term and long term affects that will harm these players. The impact Bonds is having on America’s youth is not a good one.

Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth are, no doubt, two of the greatest and most talented athletes the United States has ever seen, and have been very influential to the all of America. They come from very different backgrounds, but both achieved great success due to hard work and natural ability. They both changed baseball, and society, for the good, and for the bad.


Works Cited

“Babe Ruth.” A&E Television Networks. 29 Oct 2004


“Babe Ruth.” Baseball Reference. 2 Nov 2004


“Babe Ruth Quotes.” Brainy Quotes. 3 Nov 2004


“Barry Bonds.” A&E Television Networks. 29 Oct 2004


“Barry Bonds.” Baseball Reference. 2 Nov 2004


Digiovanna, Mike. “Barry Bonds Biography.” 7 Oct 2001. All Starz. 2 Nov 2004


Worth, Fred. “The Most Impressive Single Season Home Run Records” 11 Feb 2002.

Baseball Library. 2 Nov 2004 < Worth_Fred2.stm>

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