By Venu Palaparthi
"They tell me that $40 a week is top pay for cricket. I think I will stick to baseball. I wish I could use a wide bat like this in baseball. I would top Colonel Ruppert's (Yankees owner) payroll." - Babe Ruth, 1935
Last week's Fox Sports Science program brought to the fore the age old debate about which sport is harder - Cricket or baseball. At DreamCricket, we are not going to revisit our slogan anytime soon - Real Men Play Cricket! But the program reminded me of a very interesting story from 1935 that I had read in the DreamCricket archives.
Following his 1932 meeting with Don Bradman on the sidelines of a Yankees game in New York, Babe Ruth was quite taken by cricket. "I will try this cricket business," he chuckled. "Why don't you put on a Yankee uniform and see what you can do against our kind of pitching?" he suggested to Bradman. This was right before he famously told the Don "Us little guys can hit harder than the big ones."
On February 10, 1935, while on a visit to London, Babe Ruth kept his promise to Bradman. The baseball great's cricket coach on this occasion was Alan Fairfax, the former Australian star. True to his reputation, Ruth smashed local fast bowlers all over the premises, breaking his first cricket bat in the process.
Ruth enjoyed cricket so much that he spent an extra hour at the school by Thames where the demo was held. In the event, he was late for a luncheon engagement with his wife.
Alan Fairfax was happy about the progress his new celebrity student appeared to be making. "In a fortnight, I could make one of the world's greatest batsmen out of him," he told the assembled press.
Babe Ruth smiled and said, "They tell me that $40 a week is top pay for cricket. I think I will stick to baseball." Babe Ruth was already the highest paid professional ball player in the world by 1929. His pay was $70,000.
According to NY Times, Babe tried to adjust his stance without too much luck. So he went back to his baseball methods and smacked everything that Fairfax and his students served. When he was done, the bat had a broken handle and the reporters noted that he had edged so many balls that the edges had nearly disappeared.
Ruth said "I wish I could use a wide bat like this in baseball. I would top Colonel Ruppert's payroll."
Ruth argued that a baseball pitcher is faster than a cricket bowler against the prevailing sentiment among the British onlookers. He said, "if anybody thinks Larwood throws a faster ball than Walter Johnson, they can have my money." Someone suggested that Larwood be brought to London so Babe Ruth can get a first-hand experience.
Pressed for time, Ruth spent 15 minutes at bowling and had a bit less luck with this aspect of cricket not quite managing to take Fairfax's wicket.
Babe Ruth remained steadfast in his belief that hitting a six for over 600 feet was not believable. "That's more than my record of 559 feet," he said.
He then proceeded to see his first Soccer match after lunch.