DON'T CALL ME NIGGER, WHITEY; DON'T CALL ME WHITEY, NIGGER
Barry Bonds caused a bit of a stir when he dissed Babe Ruth a few weeks ago. Of course, it's hard to take Bonds' arguement too seriously--try pitching dude---but I did find his anger revealing. Bonds grew up watching his father go through a difficult time with the media--which was in part because of his blackness, and I'm sure he was aware of how much racism Aaron encountered when he broke Ruth's record. Ruth represented something sacred to white America, and many African Americans are sick of it. He also represents an era when black players weren't allowed to play with white players, hence the resentment.
It is ironic then, to consider some of the taunts that Ruth endured during his playing days. He was called a monkey and an ape, and according to R. Creamer's classic biography:
Beyond the simian insults were rougher epithets built around the word nigger. He was called nigger, nigger this, nigger that, all the vituperative changes on the theme that Jackie Robinson was to endure thirty years later. Ruth was called nigger so often that many people assumed he was indeed partly black and that at some point in time he, or an immediate ancestor, had managed to cross the color line. Even players in the Negro baseball leagues that flourished then believed this and generally wished the Babe, whom they considered a secret brother, well in his conquest of white baseball.
The subject of racism and sabermetrics has been a hot topic this week as well. Check out Mike C's great takes on the subject, as well as David Pinto's two-cents worth two. They link all the necessary articles to keep you up to date in Kansas City.