Thursday, August 16, 2007

On This Date in History...

Today is August 16. On this date in history, a man who changed popular culture forever passed away at a much-too-young age. This man came out of a difficult youth and grabbed the nation, and the world, with his enthusiasm, boyish charm, moves, and his talent. He was also mightily flawed, as a womanizer and dealt with addictions as well. His name is known everywhere to this day, even if many weren't alive to see him during his prime. Later in life, he got much larger.

His name was George Herman Ruth. We call him Babe, and he died 59 years ago today.

Some of you thought I was talking about Elvis Presley, who also died on this day, but in 1977. Great talent, and a monumental figure, and the person that most are talking about today because of his legion of stretch pant wearing, velvet painting owning fans who think they spotted him at a Piggly Wiggly in Sulphur Spring, Texas.

Don't get me wrong - I'm OK with Elvis's music. It's obviously legendary for a reason. I'm a fan of "Viva Las Vegas" (quite cheesy), "Suspicious Minds", "Heartbreak Hotel" and several others. The problem is that, like many others that come to mind (Elton John, the Stones, even The Beatles), the artists, and even the songs, become caricatures. It's not fair, but that's the truth.

All of this said, I guarantee that there's no Babe Ruth marathon on TV. There are, however, a couple of Elvis marathons. No enemy of ours was saying "To hell with Elvis" as the Japanese did during World War II.

No, we're talking about The Babe, who probably had a few visitors to his grave today in Valhalla, NY (I've been more than a few times myself). I've detailed how he's still the greatest before, and how his number three should be retired across baseball because the single fact is that he saved the game - period.

So here's to The Babe. Raise a frosty one in his honor.

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