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I think it was Bill James who credits the Black Sox with at least a chunk of the Babe.

His point is that the powers that be in baseball have almost always tried to limit changes to the game. When one aspect grows too dominant - say the way pitching did from the late Fifties to 1968 - the owners and commissioner (well, at least when there WAS a real commissioner...) change things, as they did in lowering the mound in '68, to bring the game "back into balance".

1919 was the apogee of the Dead Ball Era. Teams, and careers, were crafted out of games dominated by pitching, defense, and team-created runs made by stringing together walks, singles, steals, bunts. "Strategy", in the minds of the ballplayers of that period.

Ruth exploded that. Ruth showed that one player could break open a game with his bat. You can imagine how all the guys invested in "strategy" - the bunters, the base-stealers, the scratchers and grubbers for single runs - felt about that.

But the fans loved it. And baseball needed love; it had just lost it's biggest spectacle to cheating (after a period where there was a LOT of cheating all over the sport, and a lot of fans had to know that). Big league ball was sort of like where pro bicycle racing is today; it was hard to know whether that error was really an error, or somebody's shortstop making bank.

So between that, and the new clean white baseballs brought into play after Ray Chapman's death, the hitters went wild and we had Ruth leading the big sluggers through the heavy-hitting Twenties and Thirties.

At the very least it's an interesting idea. James had a bunch of those.

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