From University Communications
Washington University in St. LouisBy Gerry Everding
Aug. 22, 2006
Baseball purists, especially those of Yankee allegiance, might argue that St. Louis Cardinals homerun-hitting superstar Albert Pujols is simply not in the same league as legendary New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth.
It's an argument that science may never fully resolve, but researchers at Washington University in St. Louis can now offer at least some hard numbers on how Pujols compares to the Babe in terms of the perceptual and motor skills necessary to consistently hit balls out of the park.
Pujols visited Washington University in April to take part in a series of laboratory tests similar to those conducted on Babe Ruth on a summer afternoon in 1921 by a couple of graduate students at Columbia University. Results of the Pujols testing, conducted at the request of a reporter from GQ magazine, are detailed in a story that appears in the magazine's September issue.
"This spring, GQ persuaded Albert Pujols, reigning National League MVP and the game's most dominant slugger, to take time off from an epic home-run tear and reenact, at Washington University in St. Louis, the 1921 Babe Ruth tests," writes Nate Penn, author of the GQ article, which is titled "Performance: How To Build The Perfect Batter."
The Pujols tests were conducted by faculty in the University's Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences and in the School of Medicine, including Richard Abrams, Ph.D., professor of psychology; Desiree White, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology; David Balota, Ph.D., professor of psychology; and Catherine Lang, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy, neurology and occupational therapy.
Pujols, like Ruth, was asked to demonstrate his hitting form while hooked up to various machines that monitored the strength and speed of his swing. Pujols, complaining of a strained back, may have "held himself back a bit" on some of the tests, but his results compared favorably with those of Ruth.
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