The Babe Hit Homers, But Didn’t Give Them Up
When I’m asked who was the greatest baseball player of all-time, I never hesitate in my answer that it was Babe Ruth. For the few people still living who saw Ruth play, they will attest to his skills as not just a great hitter, but an excellent fielder, surprisingly fast base runner (excepting his 1926 World Series blunder) and of course a dominant pitcher.
In 1916 with the Boston Red Sox, Ruth did something that only five other pitchers in the modern era have accomplished. Ruth pitched over 300 innings (324) without allowing a home run. Can you imagine that? Even in the deadball era when home runs were tough to come by, this is still an amazing achievement and one that will likely never be done again.
Starting pitchers today do not come close to pitching 300 innings, let alone not give up homers. The last pitcher to go more than 300 innings was Steve Carlton with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980 when he pitched 304. He gave up 15 home runs by the way.
The other pitchers to not allow a home run in a season with at least 300 innings pitched are Walter Johnson (1916) 369.2 innings; Jack Coombs (1910) 353 innings; Ed Killian (1904 and 1905) 331.2 and 313.1 innings; Vic Willis (1906) 322 innings and Rube Vickers 1908) 317 innings.
In 1916, the twenty-one-year-old Ruth was 23-12 and led the league with 40 games started, a 1.75 ERA and nine shutouts. For his career, Ruth allowed only 10 home runs in 1222.1 innings.