Playing with numbers is baseball's No. 1 problem

Apr 13, 2006
Randy Roberts
Randy Roberts

While Barry Bonds pursues baseball's home run record, a cloud of steroid accusations has settled over the national pastime, says a Purdue University sports history expert.

"There is no game that is more obsessed with numbers, and in baseball there is no number bigger than the count for home runs," says Randy Roberts, professor of history. "The sport will never change from wood bats to hitter-friendly aluminum bats because a switch would probably dramatically inflate batters' number of hits and home runs.

"Steroids also undermine numbers, and doing so undermines the game."

Roberts says only once before in baseball's history has the game been so tarnished. In 1919, many of the Chicago White Sox players were accused of throwing World Series games for gambling purposes. Those players were banned for life. As a result Major League Baseball installed its first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, he says.

Now, baseball has appointed former U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell to investigate steroids in baseball. Bonds will be a focus, and the final report will be made public.

Roberts is a regular guest on the History Channel's "Reel To Real," which shows a movie based on a historical event and a related documentary. He also has appeared on shows for PBS, ESPN, HBO, CBS, NBC and ETV.

Last year, Roberts appeared in a Ken Burns documentary, "Unforgivable Blackness," on boxer Jack Johnson. Roberts also is author or editor of "The Rock, the Curse and the Hub: A Random History of Boston Sports," "Pittsburgh Sports: Stories from the Steel City," "John Wayne: American," "Heavy Justice: The State of Indiana v. Michael G. Tyson" and "Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945 to 1990."

Source: Purdue University, by Amy Patterson Neubert

Explore further: Changing dinosaur tracks spurs novel approach

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Red Hat's red-hot shares climb to 12-year high

Mar 29, 2012

(AP) -- Red Hat is red hot. The software maker's shares soared nearly 20 percent Thursday to a 12-year high, as investors reacted to an earnings report that showed how much Red Hat is benefiting from a shift in the way that ...

Recommended for you

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

2 hours ago

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

5 hours ago

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

6 hours ago

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

6 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...