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September 27, 2013     Post-Gazette
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Page 16 BOSTON POST.GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 27, 2013 Y< " Babe Ruth Will Always Be the Greatest Baseball Player Ever Growing up in the '505 and '60s, I just loved everything baseball. My brother and I had the best ever collection of baseball cards. The best were always TOPPS but there were otlaer card com- panies too. Back in the Sum- mer of 1962, Post Cereals put baseball cards on the back of the cereal boxes. Our mother wouldn't let us cut the box until all the Sugar Smacks were all gone. You never saw two kids eat their cereal so often. This week was the 53 rd anniversary of Ted Williams last at bat at Fenway Park when he walloped his final career home run. I was there, of course, with my younger brother sitting in the right field grandstand to the left of the visitor's bull- pen. I once got an autograph from Minnie Minoso who was one of the very first Black baseball players who once played in the old Negro League. I remember going to NY Yankees matches just to see Mickey Mantle. I will never forget the Summer of '61, when both Mantle and Roger Maris were trying to break Babe Ruth's single season home run record. Everyone seemed to be root- ing for Mantle and didn't like it that Mantle got injured at the taft-end of the season and Maris, got to hit 61 homers. Looking back, Maris got a raw deal. He hit 61 home runs and deserved credit for it. Today, I think after the steroid scandal, we finally see the achievement of Maris in positive light. However, more or less Babe Ruth was an icon. He passed away when I was three months old and by 1961, his icon status only grew stronger. Mantle was the exception since he was seen as my generation's Babe Ruth. Mantle was a great slugger but even he didn't come close to match- ing Babe Ruth's baseball record both as an everyday player and pitcher too. The Babe started out as a top pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and became the great- est slugger of all time with the NY Yankees. He hit .342 lifetime with 714 homers. He retired in 1935 with the most home runs ever and EXTRA Innings by Sal Giarratani Babe Ruth that record lasted until 1974 when Hank Aaron of the Braves broke that record in April of that season. Ruth's home run total ranks third today but Hank Aaron needed some 4,000 extra at bats to hit 755 and Barry Bonds needed 1,600 more at bats to get to his 762 homer mark. As a pitcher, he was equally amazing going 94-46 with a 2.28 ERA. Ruth still holds the all time slugging percentage with a .690 mark. Number 2 all time is Ted Williams at .634 also very good but not a "Ruthian". Ruth was one of the first inductees into the Hall of Fame in 1936 and in 1999 was named a part of MLB's All Century Team and number one on the top hun- dred players named in 2000 was Babe Ruth. The Babe pitched the Boston Red Sox to three world series titles then shifted to the outfield after getting sold to the dreaded Yankees and brought them four world series victories. According to Michael Gib- bons from the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum in Baltimore, "Ruth is unques- tionably the greatest slug- ger, he has the greatest statistics. Ruth is the only major leaguer to be a suc- cessful pitcher as well as the greatest slugger. He could do it all. Nobody else could. Nobody else came close." As the Babe always said, "Never let the fear of strik- ing out keep you from com- ing up to bat." Good advice for a baseball player and even better advice for all of us in our daily lives. Ted Williams' Last Home Run Here's a bit of baseball his- tory. The legendary slugger, Ted Williams, announced during the 1960 season that he would retire at the end of that season. On Septem- ber 28, 1960 in the last at- bat of his last game, Will- iams whacked a home run and my brother and I were among the maybe eight thousand watching history happen. We were with a group of altar-boys from the Immaculate Conception sit- ting in the right field grand- stands. Only about eight thousand were at Fenway Park to witness Ted's finale, though today if you ask people, seems like 100,000 were there that day. It makes me feel kind of old too, since we took a streetcar on Tremont Street into town and switched over to another streetcar to Kenmore Square. Ted Williams' final home run at Fenway Park. Remember Your Loved Ones Y The Post-Gazette occepts memorials throughout the year. Please call 617-227-8929for further details. They came from relatively nearby, from the far comers of New England and even from the Midwest for this annual meeting that in reality begins a new year for all of them. They had awoken to a chilly morning with the first snow of the season reported on the top of Mount Wash- ington, an opening glory and a good old-fashioned wel- come for those gathered from near and far in the Legends Restaurant area of the TD Garden. The occasion was the annual Media Day celebra- Lion of the Hockey East Con- ference, one of the top col- lege hockey leagues in the nation. The power and tra- dition that pulsed through the gathering -- of Beanpot titles won, league crowns captured and prizes of prizes, national championships se- cured -- presented an atmo- sphere where the room figu- ratively oozed with the life- blood of those who have been supremely successful in the sport of collegiate ice hockey. After all, this is a league that since 1999 has seen its teams win six NCAA Na- tional Championships, has witnessed 21 of its teams advance to the prestigious Frozen Four and has launched 56 teams forward into NCAA postseason play. The room was awash with goodwill and joy, with many mentors swapping stories of how they spent the summer just concluded. In that sense it resembled a first day back at school. It's slated to be an inter- esting year for Hockey East, which wil observe its 30 th season over the course of the 2013-2014 campaign. In addition, the conference will welcome its 11 th member into league play as the University of Notre Dame enters its first year of con- ference competition. The coming of the Irish should boost ticket sale sub- stantially as they make their rounds of the league -- which features three fellow Roman Catholic colleges (Boston College, Merrimack College and Providence Col- lege) plus a number of addi- tional powerhouses such as the University of New Hamp- shire, Boston University and 2013 Hockey East champion UMass-Lowell. Another big change will occur at BU as first year head coach David Quinn steps behind the bench to lead the Terriers in the first head coaching change at the Commonwealth Avenue in- stitution in 40 years. A 1999 graduate of Boston Univer- sity, he takes over for leg- endary mentor Jack Parker who retired last spring after leading the Terriers for 40 seasons. Veteran coaches back for another season at their re- spective alma maters include Watertown native Jerry York, who will preside behind the BC bench for his 20  sea- son and Melrose native Dick Umile, who returns for his 244 campaign at the Univer- sity of New Hampshire. York starts the season with 935 career victories (including coaching stops at Clarkson and Bowling Green), the most of any coach in NCAA history. Umile has 519 career wins under his belt, good enough for fourth on the list of active coaches. He was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. New rivalries this year include the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge. Eleven different institutions will participate in 13 desig- nated games slated to be played between October 13- 27. Challenge games in the region have Michigan State at UMass-Amherst and Michigan at UNH in a pair of back-to-back contests on October 18th-19 th. The same weekend Wisconsin plays at BC on October 18 th and at BU on October 19 th. A Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge Cup will be pre- sented to the conference that accumulates the most points over the course of the 13 games. Of the 11 schools participating in this year's challenge games, five played in last season's NCAA play- offs. The 17 total schools that play in the two conferences have combined to capture 33 national championships over the 66 seasons that ice hockey has been recognized as an NCAA varsity sport. Something new will also be introduced at the end of the regular season when, for the first time, every Hockey East team will qualify for the con- ference playoffs. The top five teams in the league stand- ings will receive first round byes while teams that place sixth through eleventh in the standings will participate in single game playoffs. The traditional best-of- three quarterfinal series will follow with the four (Continued on Page 15)