Why Babe Ruth Does Not Belong On New York Yankees’ Mount Rushmore

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By announcing he will retire at the end of the 2014 season, Derek Jeter ignited discussions about his legacy as a player and his place among the all-time great New York Yankees. More specifically, he rekindled the Yankees edition of the Mount Rushmore debate. That is, if the Yankees were to have their own Mount Rushmore composed of four players from any time period, which players’ faces would be depicted?

Considering Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player who ever lived, he is the most obvious choice for this honor. Nevertheless, the Sultan of Swat does not belong on the Yankees Mount Rushmore. Hear me out before you yell at me in the comments section.

It’s not because his numbers aren’t good enough. In his career, the guy batted .342/.474/.690 with 714 home runs and 2,220 RBIs. He also went 94-46 with a 2.28 ERA as a pitcher – like I said before, he’s the greatest player to ever step on a diamond.

I leave him off the Yankees Mount Rushmore for the same reason Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon and Roger Clemens are ineligible – he played for the Boston Red Sox. You cannot have a guy on your team’s Mount Rushmore who won championships with your greatest rival, no matter how good he was.

The Mount Rushmore debate is not about examining all the players to ever take the field for a team and selecting the best ones (by that standard, Willie Mays could be on the New York Mets Mount Rushmore.) Rather, it is about identifying those who have the highest standing in the franchise. To me, a team’s Mount Rushmore should be made up of players who spent their entire careers with the organization. That limits the Yankees’ candidates to those who played exclusively in pinstripes and disqualifies the Great Bambino from the running.

Thus, I have Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and, yes, Jeter on my Yankees Mount Rushmore. All of them won multiple championships. All of them are Hall of Fame players. All of them are legends. Most importantly, all of them only played for the Yankees.

James O’Hare is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JimboOHare, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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  • DrJLD

    This article presents a reason to leave off the list Babe Ruth: he once played for the Red Sox before being sold to the Yankees.

    This is, without a doubt, the stupidest reason I have heard for leaving out the greatest player in baseball history. Yankee fans throughout the ages have been proud that Babe Ruth has been a Yankee icon. He went into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee.

    This writer should be proud as well! Spend your writing time more intelligently in the future.

    • James

      Saying Ruth “once played for the Red Sox” doesn’t really do it justice. It’s not like he had a cup of coffee with them and then went to the Yankees. He played in Boston for six years.

      Still, I am incredibly proud that Ruth played for the Yankees, went into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee, is remembered as a Yankee and cursed the Red Sox for 86 years. I never said he’s not deserving of being included on the Yankees Mount Rushmore, I said players like Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle and Jeter are more deserving because they played their entire careers for the Yankees.

      The Mount Rushmore debate is picking four guys to represent your team. In my opinion, those four players shouldn’t have played anywhere else, especially not for your greatest rival. Spending your entire career with one team is made even more special in this day and age with the greater emphasis on free agency.

      I don’t think those that do include Ruth in their Mount Rushmore are stupid or wrong, I just believe Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle and Jeter are more deserving because they have that added advantage of being career Yankees.

  • Fred Shoken

    Your argument that Ruth doesn’t belong on the Yankee’s Mount Rushmore because he won championships with the Yankee’s most hated rival makes no sense in the context history.

    Babe Ruth played for the Boston Red Sox from 1914 to 1919. During those six years, the Red Sox won 3 pennants and the Yankees only once finished above 4th place. There was no rivalry between the two teams in those years because the Yankees stunk and the Red Sox were a championship caliber team.

    After Ruth was traded to the Yankees in 1920, there was a complete reversal of fortune for the two franchises. In the next 15 years with Ruth, the Yankees won 8 pennants, while the Red Sox were consistent bottom dwellers, finishing last in 9 of those 15 years. The only time there was any rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox was a race for last place in 1925, a year that Babe Ruth played in less than 100 games due to illness. Even that wasn’t much of a rivalry since the 7th place Yankees had a 20 game lead over the last place Red Sox.

    While the Yankees and Red Sox may be considered most hated rivals today – in Ruth’s era they were not. One team was on top, while the other team was on the bottom.

    In the two decades, before Ruth came to the Yankees, the team had never won an American League pennant, let alone a World Series. Ruth put the Yankees franchise on the map. If he doesn’t have a place on the Yankees Mount Rushmore, you may as well leave the mountain with no faces at all.

    • James

      First of all, you make a great argument with legitimate statistics and well-reasoned analysis, so thank you for that. It’s great having these debates with people who know what they’re talking about.

      As for the argument itself, I never said Ruth didn’t do enough as a player to be left off. Ruth created the rivalry by being sold to the Yankees’ and reversing the teams’ respective fortunes for the next 86 years. Nevertheless, I still believe that a team’s Mount Rushmore should be made up of players who only played for that team.

      If the last spot came down to Ruth or say, Jorge Posada, obviously I’d choose Ruth even though Posada was a career Yankee. But the Yankees are not lacking in the legends department. With guys like Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle and Jeter — all of them all-time greats — even though Ruth was a better player, the fact that they never played a game for another team gives them the edge in the Mount Rushmore debate, in my opinion.

      To give you an example with another team, say we were talking about the Seattle Mariners Mount Rushmore and the last spot came down to Ken Griffey Jr. or Edgar Martinez. Griffey was far and away the better player but he spent 8 1/2 years in Cincinnati. Martinez spent his entire 18-year career with Seattle. For this reason, Martinez is more deserving of the Mariners’ Mount Rushmore even though Griffey is more deserving of the Hall of Fame.

      I understand what you’re saying, that in the time Ruth played it wasn’t a big deal to go from the Red Sox to the Yankees like it is now. True as that may be, I still give the edge to the career Yankees — Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle and Jeter.