BOSTON – On October 1, 1933, at the original Yankee Stadium, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 6-5, behind a full game by Babe Ruth, who backed up his own efforts with a home run.
Almost 88 years later, this event continues on Wednesday night when Shohei Ohtani takes over the hill for the Angels at the new Yankee Stadium. By this point, in his other role, he may have thrown a ball or four out of the park as the team’s primary designated hitter.
Is Ohtani Really The New Babe? Or could we find someone better comparable to this generation talent, the most exciting and unique professional athlete on this planet, if we look back more briefly and broadly?
“The only person I can compare him to is the whole Bo Jackson phenomenon,” said Mark Gubicza, a color analyst for Angels TV at Bally Sports West, in a phone interview last week. “He’s like a rock star right now.”
Ohtani, 26, is “an absolute nature freak,” said Michael King, who will start the series for the Yankees on Monday evening.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone, whose grandfather Ray made his major league debut in 1948, the same year the Sultan of Swat died, added: “Neither of us has the ability to dominate on both sides of the ball really ever seen. “
The reference to dominance is not exaggerated, since Ohtani is one of the leaders in the Major League at home runs (25), RBIs (59) and OPS (1.031), while he has a 2.58 ERA with a total of 59 ¹ / ₃ in 11 starts Innings booked. No wonder the Yankees wanted him so badly in the 2017-18 off-season when he picked the Angels.
Ruth recorded two seasons with the Red Sox, 1918 and 1919, in which he posted above-average numbers both as a hitter and as a pitcher, the former more than the latter. When he became a Yankee in 1920, he moved mainly to an everyday right-field player; he hit only five times in a Yankees uniform.
And therein lies the main difference between The Bambino and his baseball descendant, the two men born 99 years apart: only one of them adopted this duality.
“He clearly wanted to move out into the field,” said Jane Leavy, author of Ruth’s 2018 biography “The Big Fella,” in a phone interview about her subject. “It happened at a point in time because of the design [for World War I]. With all the players who [Red Sox manager Ed] Barrow lost, he needed outfielder. And then, when he needed jugs, he wanted Babe Ruth to come back and throw up. And I don’t think Babe Ruth really wanted to do that once he got a taste of the frolic in the field. “
While Ohtani, who performed and hit for the Nippon Ham Fighters in his home country Japan, made it clear to interested Major League Baseball teams (everyone) as a free agent that he would not get involved unless the employer made a commitment to his Persecution dream of excelling in both. The Angels even blessed this after Ohtani underwent surgery from Tommy John in October 2018.
Which brings us back to Bo, who won the Heisman Trophy running back for Auburn, saw his name as the first overall pick of the 1986 NFL Draft (by the Buccaneers) and left the Bucs to sign as outfielder with the royals who put him in the fourth round of this year’s amateur baseball draft.
“Bo, you’re talking about a five-tool player across the board and he was the ultimate,” said Art Stewart, then the Royals’ scouting director and now chief advisor to General Manager Dayton Moore, in a telephone interview. “He ran a 3.6 [from home plate to first base] from the right side. [Mickey] Coat was 3.6 from the left. I thought [Roberto] Clemente had the largest arm, but Bo had a Clemente arm, or probably better. He had power that I haven’t seen. You talk about anything we’re looking for in baseball and he was the best at it. “
Jackson made his major league debut that same year in 1986, and as Stewart put it, “The sad thing was that he learned to be a major league ball player.” It didn’t shine immediately. But in 1989 he started in the left field and met the leadoff in the all-star game in the American League and received the award for most valuable player in the Midsummer Classic after starting a leadoff homer against National League starter Rick Reuschel.
By that game, arguably his signature baseball moment, Jackson had done the same in the NFL, overtaking acclaimed Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth while scoring a touchdown for the Raiders in 1987, his rookie NFL season. According to a deal Jackson made with the Raiders after they drafted him in 87, he completed the entire MLB campaign with the Royals and joined the Raiders mid-way through the football schedule. He played in the Pro Bowl in 1991 and became the first (and only remaining) professional athlete to be named an All-Star in both sports. While Jackson’s contemporary Deion Sanders was also successful in both worlds, he played in a Falcons game and a Braves playoff game on the same day in 1992, but he never owned a baseball blanket like Jackson’s.
Gubicza, a starting pitcher who played alongside Jackson with the Royals, attended some of Jackson’s Raiders games in Los Angeles (her then home). He recalled, “I went to the locker rooms after the soccer games in the old days.” [LA] Coliseum thinking, ‘This guy’s a freak. You can’t do anything to him. ‘ ”
As a broadcaster, Gubicza now experiences similar sensations when he sees Ohtani at work: “He threw six innings and hit 10” [June 4 against the Mariners]. My legs, my ribs, my shoulder would be sore the next day after. The next day he managed a home run in the first pitch. How is that possible? I’d run my long distances and lift some weights and that was a fight and here it is to do a home run. I scratch my head all day and think, ‘How does he do it?’ “
“There is such a thing as neuromuscular genius,” said Leavy, who wrote about the concept in The Lost Boy, her Mickey Mantle biography. “It’s not just the physiological ability. It’s something in the way the brain is wired that allows them to go to places and do things that no one else could do. It certainly seems that Ohtani could be one. “
“It’s a great comparison you make, him and Bo,” Stewart said of Ohtani. “He has one advantage over Bo and that is that he can pitch.” Of course, Jackson could run nearly 1,000 yards against the NFL defenses in one half season, an feat Ohtani – who will be competing in the Home Run Derby next month – is unlikely to attempt.
Jackson’s unicorn reign proved to be fairly brief, a football hip injury in 1991 ending his career on the grid on the spot and ending his baseball star status; he played for parts of 1991, 1993 and 1994 for the White Sox and Angels before retiring after the 1994 work stoppage at the age of 32.
Ohtani’s stamina remains questionable. Said Leavy and compared Ohtani to Ruth: “Let’s see where he will be in 20 years. The comparisons at this point are just as inevitable as they are misleading, because you don’t know where it will end. “
Because of me. At that moment, however, there will be someone special in the Bronx who will reach new heights. “There could be a Mickey Mantle moment if it catches you,” said Gubicza.
Yes, this guy always conjures up the great. Whoever he is most like, it is clear that later on it will be an honor for someone to be compared to Shohei Ohtani.