Scientists explored secrets behind Ruth’s epic 1921 season
Their conclusion? As most American League pitchers knew at the time, Ruth, compared to the average man, was both physically and mentally exceptional.
“I learned something then which, perhaps, will interest the American League pitchers more than it will the scientists. This was that the ball Ruth likes best to hit, and can hit hardest, is a low ball pitched just above his knees on the outside corner of the plate. The scientists did not consider this of extreme importance in their calculations, but the pitchers will probably find it of great scientific interest.”
The psychologists also discovered that Ruth did not breathe during his entire swing. They stated that if he kept breathing while swinging, he could generate even more power.
“The scientific ivory hunters of Columbia University discovered that the secret of Babe Ruth's batting, reduced to non-scientific terms, is that his eyes and ears function more rapidly than those of other players; that his brain records sensations more quickly and transmits its orders to the muscles much faster than does that of the average man,” Fullerton wrote.
“The tests proved that the coordination of eye, brain, nerve system, and muscle is practically perfect, and that the reason he did not acquire his great batting power before the sudden burst at the beginning of the baseball season of 1920, was because, prior to that time, pitching and studying batters disturbed his almost perfect coordination.”
After detailed explanation of the testing process, Fullerton ended his Popular Science Monthly piece trumpeting the discovered explanation of Ruth’s diamond superiority.
“The secret of Babe Ruth's ability to hit is clearly revealed in these tests,” Fullerton wrote. “His eye, his ear, his brain, his nerves all function more rapidly than do those of the average person. Further the coordination between eye, ear, brain, and muscle is much nearer perfection than that of the normal healthy man.
“The scientific ‘ivory hunters’ dissecting the ‘home-run king’ discovered brain instead of bone, and showed how little mere luck, or even mere hitting strength, has to do with Ruth's phenomenal record.”
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum