Baseball’s other “Babe”. A case can be made that Babe Herman belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Over his 13-season major league career, Babe had a .324 career batting average, with 1,818 hits, 181 home runs, 997 RBIs, a .383 on-base percentage, and a .532 slugging average which was fourth in the National League when he retired. In fact, Babe Herman still holds several Dodgers franchise records and is the only player who hit .320 in 5,000 at bats who is NOT in the Hall of Fame. He is also one of only three players who hit for the cycle (a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game) three times in a career. And for you trivia buffs, Babe was the first player to hit a home run in a major league night game (July 10, 1935).
So why isn’t Babe Herman in the Baseball Hall of Fame? The detractors continually cite Babe’s baserunning miscues and his poor fielding, but these allegations seem to do more with over exaggerated accounts by the voracious Press than they do with Babe’s true talent.
Dubbed “The Headless Horseman of Ebbets Field” by pitcher Dazzy Vance for his various base running misadventures”. It is possible though, that Babe was a victim of his team’s base coaching ineptness or his own over aggressiveness on the basepaths. In one overly publicized incident, Babe tried to stretch a double off the right field wall into a triple with one out and the bases loaded. Chick Fewster, who had been on first base, advanced to third base without noticing that it was already occupied by Dazzy Vance (the same pitcher quoted above) who had started on second base but became caught in a rundown between third and home and had raced back safely to third. Apparently neither Chick nor Babe noticed Dazzy had retreated to third. In the end, Chick and Babe were called out. Dazzy was safe. It is not clear why the press harangued Babe relentlessly for this incident. Wasn’t Chick just as guilty of poor baserunning? And did no one noticed that, despite the baserunning faux pas, Babe had driven in the winning run on that very play?
Babe has also been stereotyped as “a quintessential good-hit, no-field ball player”. Much was written about Herman’s ability to judge flyballs. It was said that, “Babe would circle around an area on the field where he thought the ball might drop and blindly stick out his glove, hoping against hope, that some divine entity would deposit the pill in his awaiting mitt”. It is true that Herman had a mediocre .961 lifetime fielding average in right field. But if that is a key for entry into the Hall of Fame, then what about THE “Babe”, Babe Ruth? His lifetime right field fielding average was only .968 and then there’s Reggie Jackson who had an anemic .967 lifetime fielding average.
There certainly seems to be sufficient evidence for another “Babe” in the Baseball Hall of Fame.