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Thread: Cricket and Baseball, Introductory question: Who is cricket's "Babe Ruth"?

  1. #16
    Request Your Custom Title Now! benchmark00's Avatar
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    Kohli. Do something in test cricket for once please.

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    Virat Kohli (c) Jono's Avatar
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    As good as this bloke was, one feels his special trademark "run to each base until the fielders stuff up" tactic may not have worked in cricket.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    I just love all kinds of balls.

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    Ike, do you speak Spanish? Had a friend called Vicente around the Tennessee region.


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    Welcome Ike. Good thread. I don't think Ruth had the highest batting average in baseball. Wasn't there a guy called Hornsby who has the best average? So while Ruth is perhaps baseball's best slugger he isn't necessarily the best batter.

  6. #21
    Ike
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    Thank you all for your comments. Lots to respond to. The picture of Bradman and Babe Ruth, according to Flannels on the Sward, at least, is from July 20, 1932. According to the caption for a picture in that book (p. 78), Bradman played a cricket match in New York against a team of West Indians on the 14th through 16th of that month. There is also a picture of Bradman in a baseball uniform, with the caption "Bradman in Baseball Outfit". The only documentation of this picture is "SLSA:PRG 682". After a fair amount of googling, I found this was a reference to a collection of Bradman scrapbooks contained in a Bradman collection at the State Library of South Australia. Here is a link to the picture, and its accompanying newspaper article (origin unknown, according to the SLSA notes):
    Bradman Scrapbooks, vol. 15, p. 217

    The uniform is presumably a New York Yankees uniform (Ruth's team at the time, and for most of his career), but the photo is too grainy to tell for sure.

    As for the picture fredfertang mentions, of Alan Fairfax coaching Ruth in cricket in the nets, I managed to find a copy of it here:

    The thing about Babe | Lyni-b

    You have to scroll more than half way through a long article to find it, but it's worth it. It's a very clear picture, and shows both men well, with Ruth in a suit (sans jacket) and suspenders (braces in English English), but holding a cricket bat and wearing cricket pads (leg guards? not sure of the proper terminology). In any case, it's, to me, a fascinating picture!

    Also, benchmark00's picture is the one of Bradman and Ruth at Yankee's stadium, July 20th, 1932.

    Adders gives a quote that suggests Bradman was the Babe Ruth of cricket. However, I don't think that sways the argument one way or the other, since the quote, paraphrased at least, is from Arthur Mailey, who publicized Bradman's tour of the U.S. (and Canada), and so would of course tie Bradman to Ruth to get more attention for him in the U.S.

    Jono refers to a quote, "run to each base until the fielders stuff up", which I think is meant to refer to Ruth. Is that correct? I am unfamiliar with any quote of Ruth similar to this, and couldn't find anything trying to google it.

    And in answer to Shri, alas, no, I do not speak Spanish at all.

    Finally, the big bambino discusses batting average in baseball. To answer the statistacal part first, the highest one year average in baseball was Hugh Duffey's .440 in 1894. However, most discussions of baseball stats limit 'records' to 1900 and later (because the earlier game didn't have as consistent opposition and for other reasons), and post 1900, yes, Hornsby had the highest one year average of .424 in 1924. The highest career average was Ty Cobb (.366), with Hornsby second and Ruth 8th.

    However, batting average doesn't define the 'best batter' in baseball. The best batter is the one who is best all around in hitting (not that there's any agreement on who that might be, all time or in any given year, lol). Stats that may be taken into account are batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, runs batted in, etc. etc. And in baseball, a whole new set of stats (called generally Sabermetrics) argue that the traditional stats are pretty much useless for evaluating the quality of players, and they use stats like runs created, adjusted runs created (based on each stadium one hits in), batting average on balls in play, and many others.

    I'd like to return to my original question now, and perhaps refine it, based on all the useful insights this thread has provided me (and thank you all again!). But perhaps that would be better in a new post. I do tend to ramble on!
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  7. #22
    Ike
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    So, back to my original question, if anyone is still interested. All the comments have helped me realize that I didn't define what I was asking about very well in my first post. Most importantly, 1) I didn't define Ruth's position in American culture accurately enough, and 2) I didn't make clear that my real interest in this thread is not about Ruth at all, but is an attempt to understand how cricket fans feel about the most famous players in cricket history.

    Let's tackle Ruth's position in American culture first. It's not really a matter of who is the 'best' baseball player ever, but more the 'most famous' and best known, and 'most loved'. Ruth probably comes in first in all those categories among the greatest number of Americans. Let me cite a few examples, taken from the Wikipedia article on Babe Ruth. Here's the key paragraph from that article:

    "Ruth has been named the greatest baseball player of all time in various surveys and rankings. In 1998, The Sporting News ranked him number one on the list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players".[161] In 1999, baseball fans named Ruth to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.[162] In 1969, he was named baseball's Greatest Player Ever in a ballot commemorating the 100th anniversary of professional baseball. In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Muhammad Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as the most recognized athletes in America.[163] In a 1999 ESPN poll, he was ranked as the second-greatest U.S. athlete of the century, behind Michael Jordan.[164])"

    As the last two polls indicate, Ruth transcends baseball, just as Muhammad Ali transcends boxing. But as I noted above, what I really want to understand is how cricket fans feel about the most famous cricket players. If asked, who is the best cricket player ever, whom would most fans choose? Likewise, for the most famous cricket player. Likewise for the most famous athlete who happened to be a cricket player. I've learned that Bradman is generally considered the best cricketer, but what about most famous? Does the fact that Grace had the opportunity to play in very few Test matches and accumulated most of his great stats in county cricket count for anything, pro or con? Does the fact (I think it's a fact) that Grace had to bat on much poorer pitches than Bradman, because of his earlier time period, make Grace's batting achievements more impressive? And when we speak of the greatest or most famous cricketers, are any others seriously in the discussion beyond Grace and Bradman? Players like Sir Vivian or Tendulkar?

    If folks are willing to discuss all this further, I'd definitely appreciate it.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ike View Post

    If folks are willing to discuss all this further, I'd definitely appreciate it.
    I'm in

    It occurred to me reading your posts Ike, that one of the huge differences between baseball and cricket is that whilst cricket isn't a real global concern like football (soccer) for eg, it is still played and followed throughout a lot of countries. Whereas global interest in baseball is more limited. I think this is important to take into account when talking about who is the best or who is the most famous cricketer.........ask these question in Adelaide, Mumbai or Antigua and you'll likely receive 3 very different answers.

    Fortunately you are asking on a cricket forum where for the most part folk are very knowledgeable and can look beyond their own nationalistic heroes.

    As to who is the best, honestly.....99.94 is just to hard to go past. I not only think Don Bradman is the greatest cricketer ever, I personally think he is the greatest sportsman ever when compared to his peers. (I'm English btw so I also hate him )

    Most famous?? Now that is far harder to answer. I guess if you showed a photo of Babe Ruth around any city in America there wouldn't be many folk who wouldn't pick him right?? Show a photo of the Don around Australia and everyone would also pick him.....show that photo around pubs in England, reckon you'd be lucky if 50% got it, same with a photo of Sachin.......show em a photo of Ian Botham and they'll all get it. For sheer weight of numbers here I'm gonna say Sachin is the most famous cricketer ever.......India is a massive population and I'm sure their babies first words are Sachin in a lot of homes!!

    As for WG Grace, check out the last few pages in this thread here Some excellent insight and knowedge on WG and peoples different perceptoions of him.

  9. #24
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    Yeah if you're looking for cricket's greatest icon, Sachin Tendulkar is your guy.
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    Disclaimer: I am a biased South African. Anything I say is likely to have something in it that ultimately favours the Proteas.

  10. #25
    Ike
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    thanks once more for the added info. The thread you referenced, Adders, is great for the understanding I'm trying to get of perspectives on cricket history and Grace in particular, both pro and con.

    And yes, nationalities certainly do make a difference, whereas baseball is for the most part a one-country sport (with apologies to Japan, Canada, parts of Latin America, and even Canada). As you noted, folks on this forum tend to have the larger picture, and it their views I'd like to learn better. Along those lines, what do you think the opinion on Sachin is in G.B.? As for Grace, I've read that C.R.L. James in his famous (I believe) book, Beyond a Boundary, discusses Grace's importance to cricket at length, and of course James is a Trinidadian. Haven't read the book yet, so I can't say much, but I'm hoping to get a copy of it relatively soon.

    And MrPrez, thanks for the comment. What do you mean by 'greatest icon'? Known by most people worldwide? Best recognized picture? Something totally different? TIA.

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    I've got a question for you Ike. So as already mentioned I know next to nothing about baseball, but I have seen enough Kevin Costner movies to understand a pitcher can have a fast ball and also a curve ball. Is there any work that needs to be done with the ball in order to get it to swing (curve) or does it just happen?? Are all baseballs the same, as in do they all do the same thing all the time and do atmospheric conditions affect how much swing a pitcher will get??

    I'm sure you've picked up already with cricket that getting the ball to swing, either conventionally with the new ball or reverse swing later on with an old ball really is an art and there are a lot of variables at play. A bowler can have the ball hooping round corners in one session and then be bowling gun barrel straight the next.......is baseball like this, or is the induced swing all down to the throwing action rather than the condition of the ball and atmospherics??

  12. #27
    Ike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adders View Post
    I've got a question for you Ike. So as already mentioned I know next to nothing about baseball, but I have seen enough Kevin Costner movies to understand a pitcher can have a fast ball and also a curve ball. Is there any work that needs to be done with the ball in order to get it to swing (curve) or does it just happen?? Are all baseballs the same, as in do they all do the same thing all the time and do atmospheric conditions affect how much swing a pitcher will get??

    I'm sure you've picked up already with cricket that getting the ball to swing, either conventionally with the new ball or reverse swing later on with an old ball really is an art and there are a lot of variables at play. A bowler can have the ball hooping round corners in one session and then be bowling gun barrel straight the next.......is baseball like this, or is the induced swing all down to the throwing action rather than the condition of the ball and atmospherics??
    Great question! Bowling and pitching are both very complex procedures, and to my mind both are fascinating. Let me start by seeing if I can get a picture of a baseball here.

    Attachment 21190

    Note that the seam (there's only one, although it looks like two) of a baseball is single, and 'wanders' around the baseball in a way that's easy to see but hard to describe. By contrast, a cricket ball has 2 seams, parallel, and right beside each other. And the most basic answer to your question is that the wind resistance to the seams of the baseball (along with the spin the pitcher imparts to the ball) is the primary cause of the curving of the ball (called the 'break' of the ball).

    A full explanation is much more complex. As for any work needing to be done on the ball, there are various ways the ball can be 'worked' to improve the break, however they are all illegal, lol. The most common is what is called a 'spit ball'. By putting some moisture on the ball, the pitcher can make it break much more strongly. This is most often done with sweat rather than spit, since it's easier to hide that you're doing it. As a result there are special rules, such as that you can't touch your pitching hand to your mouth or your forehead or the underside of your cap while you are 'on the mound' (the raised area the pitcher pitches from). If you want to do those things, you have to walk off the mound, and wipe your hand before going back on the mound. You can also use vasoline to do the same thing even more effectively (not sure if vasoline is a British word.. it is the most common brand of petroleum jelly in the U.S.) However, it's rarely used because it is easy to detect: the pitcher has to keep a blob of it somewhere on himself, and he can be inspected by the umpire if the opposing team suspects it. Pitchers can also use files or emery boards to affect the seams, but again, these are relatively easy to detect, so are not often used.

    to further understand baseball pitching, it's important to be aware of various differences from cricket, which are easy to not know or remember. I've already mentioned that the pitcher pitches from a raised mound, giving him an advantage vs the batter (batsman), which also affect curve balls, especially in downward motion. The mound is 10 inches higher than the rest of the field (before 1968 it was 15 inches, sometimes more). On the other hand, there is no run up by the pitcher in baseball. In fact, he must begin his delivery with one foot on the 'rubber', a small rectangular piece of rubber. That foot may not break contact with the rubber until the ball has left his hand.

    Grips of the baseball are also critical to throwing curve balls. All baseball throws (except knuckle balls, a rare pitch which only a few specialists use) use two fingers on top of the ball, more or less, and the thumb underneath, more or less. Fastballs are throw with the two fingers parallel to the seams ('a two seamer') or perpendicular to the seams (a four seamer). The fingers put pressure on the top of the ball in a balanced manner, so there will be no 'sideways' spin, which would slow the ball down. Two seamers have a bit of 'tail' (movement) at the end, but four seamers are a bit faster. A curve ball it gripped with the two top fingers a bit to one side (in a wide variety of ways), and the fingers put pressure on one side of the ball as it is released, to cause a sideways spin on the ball as it approaches the batter. This spin, perpendicular to the direction the ball is thrown, caused the effect of wind resistance on the seams to be much greater. Here is a picture of a curve ball grip:

    curveball_grip.jpg

    A couple of other points briefly. The 'age' of the ball is critical in cricket. But in baseball, every ball hit into the crowd (mostly foul balls, which don't count) is replaced with a new one. Virtually every ball that hits the ground is replaced on the next pitch. Thus every (major league) baseball game uses 50 or more new balls. Any wear on a ball is reason for the umpire to replace it. A pitched ball (all baseball pitches use a bent elbow, balls are never bowled) must not touch the ground before reaching the batter. If they do, the the pitch is automatically called a 'ball', not a 'strike', and so to the batter's advantage. A batter is allowed to hit a ball that has already hit the ground, but they virtually never do, at least not on purpose. So while cricket has both swing and deviation to 'deceive' the batsman, baseball has only swing (which they call break). There are very many types of curve balls in baseball, named after the direction of the break, the sharpness of the break, and the speed of a ball (curve, 12 to 6 curve, slider, sinker, slurve, etc.).

    I'm sure I've left out a lot of stuff, but hopefully this is an introduction that more or less answers your question.

  13. #28
    Ike
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    Well, dang. The first picture worked fine when I previewed it.

    Let me try again.

    baseball.jpg

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    Ftr - 99.94 batting average in cricket equates to a lifetime batting average of 0.392 in baseball (SD = 3.6)

    Current best is .366 by Ty cobb.

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    A lifetime score of 58922 in Suicide Bob equates to a lifetime batting average of 150.33 in cricket.

    Daemon > Bradman

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