We are now experiencing those warm, lazy days of summer, giving me
the opportunity to dream of baseball, our nation’s pastime, while enjoying peanuts, (skip the Crackerjacks) and lots of frankfurters. There is no other place that I would rather be than the the Yankee dugout at Wrigley Field, in the fifth inning of game three of the 1932 World Series between those Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. Here I am, standing between my idols, Babe Ruth - the ‘Sultan of Swat’, and Lou Gherig - the ‘Iron Horse’. Baseball players like to ride the opposing team members, so I am duly outfitted in my Cub uniform, nestled securely between those Yankee pin stripes.
The Babe and Lou have been carrying on a big discussion about how to put this game and the series away. Lou is leaning toward getting on base with a hit since he was so good in posting a lifetime .350 batting average, meaning he got more than one hit for every three at-bats. Babe was in favor of cleaning up with a home run since he was the man to post 467 homers in his career, 52 more than the runner-up, Jimmy Foxx.
“I don’t know why you’re so hung up on hits, Lou, when you could get it all over in one swing....” the Babe said. “ Hits are for sissies, and you can leave a lot of guys stuck on base at the end of an inning. I’m afraid hits aren’t all they are cracked up to be.”
“That’s true, Herman,” I said, using the Babe’s middle name which was my way to continue to congenially bug him. “Just as in my line of work, hits not only don’t mean everything, but they can also be quite deceptive.”
What do you mean?” Lou asked. “Getting on base is the first step to crossing home plate.”
I reminded Lou that the Babe had mentioned the frustration of leaving runners stranded at the end of an inning. “Similarly,” I said, “people who are considering advertising with Batteries Digest often don’t know the real difference between hits and page views. Many think that they are getting something better with more hits. For example, in June of this year, my web site showed 112,752 hits, but in reality, there were only 48,031 page views. The additional 64,721 difference between hits and page views was obtained by additionally counting the loading of various tables and graphics within any page view to make the hit count appear more impressive. Actually, visitors had only looked at 48,031 pieces of information which was a true indication of the web site activity.
Now, it was the Babe’s turn to ride me. “Good comment, Dogout.” He created the variation to the name ‘Dugout’ which would describe my continual presence off the field, but he had bent it to ‘Dogout’ to match my species.The Babe, then added, “See, Lou, that’s what I mean; when I hit a homer, I get a run. When the Web stats show a page view, somebody has actually requested seeing that page. With hits you either can leave somebody stranded on base or you can get a ridiculous number which has little to do with the number of page views requested of your site.”
Babe got up to swing a few in the on-deck circle. He said, “Well guys, I have to go put one into the bleachers for my personal mascot, Ray Kelly.” Ray and his father were the Babe’s guests at the series that Day.
At this point, history continues with the Babe stepping into the batter’s box and pointing out toward center field. Watching him, Lou said that he thought the Babe was indicating that he was going to park one in the center field bleachers. Cub catcher Gabby Hartnett thought Babe was pointing to the bleachers, too. Charlie Root, the Cub picher, wasn’t happy because Babe had already poked a homer his previous time at bat. Fortunately, Charlie did not think Babe was pointing at the bleachers because he said later that if Babe had made such a bold statement, he (Charlie) would have dusted him off.
Babe didn’t like the first pitch and took a called first strike, but in the ensuing three pitches, one of which was another called strike, Babe repeated the pointing gesture to the bleachers. Pitch No. 5 came humming into the plate, and it was Babe’s type of pitch so he parked the ball in the bleachers.He chuckled as he toured the bases, thinking to himself, “the good Lord was with me.” Little Ray Kelly was convinced that the Babe had pointed to the bleachers as an indication of where the ball would be parked, especially for him. Yes, it was scored as a hit, but it also counted as a homer which put the Yankees one run ahead. Yankee jersey number four (Lou) must have ‘gotten some religion’ in our ‘hit’ discussion because he next stepped up to the plate, forgot just a hit, and parked another one in the bleachers. Still nothing would detract from the Babe’s feat of calling the shot in front of 50,000 fans.
Baseball has created many legends because of guys like Babe and Lou, which give our young people wonderful role models.
Now, if I can only figure out how to hit a curve ball....
Tail wags, \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ /.