This is Babe Ruth, Sultan of Swat, not Clint Barmes, shown fielding below.
Who is Clint Barmes?
I was wondering that myself when he wound up on my fantasy baseball team, the Sultans of Swat.
My partner in crime, the good doctor Larry G, and I picked Barmes in our Nightcap League fantasy baseball draft.
In the fourth round.
Among the scores of recognizable names picked after Barmes were Cole Hamels, Mariano Rivera, Vlad Guerrero, Russell Martin, BJ Upton and Josh Beckett…just to name a few.
This may have been the only fantasy draft in the country where Barmes went in the fourth round, 38th overall.
So who is this guy Barmes? He’s a 30-year-old utility infielder who’s played six seasons for the Colorado Rockies. He didn’t even start on Opening Day; Ian Stewart got the nod at second base.
Only twice has Barmes played more than 100 games in a season. He’s never hit more than 11 home runs or had more than 56 RBIs in a single season.
Barmes has a career batting average of ..263, with 30 homers and 159 RBIs, lifetime numbers that Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez could compile in a single season.
He was rated 23rd of 30 major league second baseman by CBS SportsLine and 25th by ESPN, which rated him 298. The Sporting News had him 34th among shortstops. Neither Sports Illustrated nor CBS had Barmes in its top 300 overall.
That’s the bad news. Now here’s the good news.
The Sultans nabbed Pujols, the best player in baseball, with the third overall pick in the draft. Their next two picks were Matt Holliday and Roy Halladay. They got depth throughout the middle rounds, and some real sleepers in the later rounds, including Giants phenom Pablo Sandoval (21st), Heath Bell (23rd) and Yunei Escobar (25th).
And best of all, the Sultans of Swat are in first place two days into the season.
Walter Johnson, left, and Babe Ruth, in California, 1924.
SportsNation America has always been enthralled with the one-on-one matchup. Dempsey vs. Tunney, Ali vs. Frazier. Arnie vs. Jack. McEnroe vs. Borg. Magic vs. Bird, Russell vs. Chamberlain
In baseball, it’s the batter vs. pitcher. Bob Feller pitching to Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams. Sandy Koufax facing Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. Sans steroids, Roger Clemens vs. Barry Bonds.
Perhaps the greatest one-on-one matchup was Walter Johnson vs. Babe Ruth, the greatest pitcher ever vs. the greatest hitter and player of all-time, the Big Train vs. the Sultan of Swat.
Johnson recorded a record of 417-279, second only to Cy Young, with a 2.17 ERA and 3509 strikeouts in a 21-year career with the Washington Senators that began in 1907. He also hit 24 homers and batted .235 lifetime, including a .433 batting average in 1925. Not to bad for a pitcher.
Ruth smashed 714 home runs, third behind Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron, along with 2217 RBIs, and had a .342 lifetime average. The Babe began his career as a pitcher with the Red Sox in 1914, went to the Yankees in 1920, and wound up his career with the Boston Braves in 1935. Ruth was an outstanding pitcher with a 94-46 lifetime record and 2.28 ERA, and was 2-0 in three World Series starts. He started five games for the Yankees between 1920 and 1933, and won them all.
Johnson gave up only 97 homers in 5,942 innings pitched, 40 homers at home and 57 on the road. Nearly half of the homers hit off him at home (mainly Washington’s Griffith Stadium) were inside the park. There were three seasons in which he did not give up any homers: 1908, 1916, and 1919.
10 Homers for Ruth
Of those 97 homers, 10 were hit be Babe Ruth. Frank “Home Run” Baker is next on the list with five. Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig and Al Simmons connected four times each against Johnson.
Johnson, finishing out his final season with the Senators, was at Yankee Stadium when Ruth hit his historic 60th home run against Tom Zachary on September 30, 1927. In the ninth inning of that game, Johnson, making his final appearance as a player‚ pinch-hit for Zachary and flied out to Ruth
As a pitcher, Ruth had unusual success against Johnson, beating him six times in eight decisions lifetime, once in 1915 and four times in 1916 alone, by scores of 5-1, 1-0, 1-0 in 13 innings, and 2-1. In their final meeting that season, Ruth blew a 2-0 lead to Johnson’s Senators in the ninth when he gave up a double to John Henry and was pulled. Washington won, 4-3, in 10 innings as Johnson got the win and Ernie Shore, who relieved Ruth, took the loss.
In 1917, Ruth beat Johnson again, 1-0. Johnson finally beat Ruth with a 6-0 shutout in October of 1917.
The two combatants met twice in later years in exhibition games. In 1924, shortly after Johnson had pitched three times in seven games to give the Senators their only World Championship, Johnson and Ruth squared off in a barnstorming match in Brea, California. Johnson gave up eight runs on eights — two of them homers by Ruth, the second estimated at 550 feet — in five innings, while Ruth went all the way to win 12-1.
1942 Benefit Game
On August 23, 1942, Johnson faced the Babe in a benefit match (check this video) that drew 69,000 fans to Yankee Stadium for a doubleheader with the Senators and provided $80,000 for Army-Navy relief.
“Babe, I just want to ask one thing; don’t hit any back to me,” Johnson asked.
“Hell, I’ll be lucky to hit one at all,” Ruth answered with a laugh. “But I’ll try to pull ‘em down the line.”
As the huge throng at Yankee Stadium cheered him on, the 47-year-old slugger came through twice — first hitting a line drive into the lower right field stands on his third swing and then connecting on the 20th pitch for a huge smash into the upper deck in right. As the Babe rounded the bases and hugged Johnson at home plate, nobody seemed to care that the ball had hooked foul at the last moment.