You always hear about people comparing Babe Ruth to other great baseball players, but not great athletes in other sports like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Jim Brown, Wayne Gretzky, David Beckham. Do you think Babe Ruth was superior in both athletics and popularity or was he inferior in those categories compared to those guys?If you don't think Babe Ruth is the best, then who do you think is the best and the most desirable athlete of all time. I was happy to learn… You're asking about six different questions here. First, comparing athletes across eras in the same sport is very tricky. Take baseball, for example. Ruth played when the ball was "dead", pitchers used spitballs, scuffing and other tricks to get more movement, and there weren't the technological advances in equipment or training or nutrition. On the other hand, Ruth didn't have to play against top black ballplayers – and never mind the talent from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc. So it comes down, IMO, to the difference between Ruth and his competition. Clearly, the canyon was quite vast in Ruth's case. As great as players like Hank Aaron and illie Mays were (and these are the two players who are most often in the "greatest ever" discussion with Ruth), they clearly were not as far ahead of their contemporaries as Ruth was ahead of his. (Also, remember that Ruth won a World Series as a starting PITCHER with the Red Sox, before they traded him to the Yankees. ) Second, comparing athletes across sports is nearly impossible, and even harder to do when you try to mix individual sports and team sports. The reason is that most athletes are specialized when they become professionals, and so that athletic talent has been honed for a particular set of muscle and mental exercises. Sure, they can still do things in other endeavors, but not at the top professional level usually. Third, in terms of sheer athleticism, Babe Ruth was certainly inferior to, say, Michael Jordan. But overall athleticism is a highly subjective category, and really, the best "overall athlete" would probably have to be someone who excels at multiple endeavors. So, the "best athlete" of all time might have to be someone like Babe Zaharias or Jim Thorpe. Fourth, in terms of American popularity, Babe Ruth is supreme amongst all other athletes. He was, in most ways, larger than life. There is no "House that Gretzky Built" or "House that Jordan Built". In terms of international popularity, however, obviously someone like Jordan or Tiger Woods (who, BTW, is NOT yet deserving of "greatest of all time" discussion – more on that later) would have him crushed. Baseball is still pretty much an American sport at the top levels. Fifth, if you want to talk "best of all time", that list of athletes you provided is suffering a bit. Woods, until further notice, is still #2 in every conceivable way behind Jack Nicklaus in golf history. (Nicklaus' case is simple: 18 major wins. . 19-time runner-up in majors. . And he had to play against Palmer, Watson, Floyd, Irwin, and other golf greats in their prhyme. ) As for David Beckham, google "Edson Arantes do Nascimento" sometime, and behold the true greatest player in soccer (or "football", if you prefer) history. Sixth (whew.). . Best athlete of all time? Again, it would have to be someone who truly excelled in multiple disciplines. I'll go with Jim Thorpe. Most popular athlete of all time? In most any statistical measure of popularity, probably Michael Jordan.
Rare and funny short movie of George Herman "Babe" Ruth teaching kids the game of Baseball.