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Baseball fans have never been afraid to pick sides when it comes to divisive issues that have affected or shaped America’s pastime. From individual players to memorable games or events, the most serious of spectators take pride in having a stance on every important aspect of the game. Over the course of the sports’ history, these are the Top 5 most polarizing moments:
5) The Addition of the Designated Hitter – Though Ron Blomberg is not a household name, the change that he represented in the game is something that baseball fans still debate to this day. Blomberg was the first designated hitter ever, as the American League attempted to add some offense to the game in 1973. The DH conversation is one that is had by owners and baseball historians every couple of years and one that will likely go on for all of eternity.
4)Babe Ruth Calling His Shot – Everything about this magnificent play is debatable, including whether it actually ever happened or not. Was it the greatest example of showmanship of all time or simply Babe being a bad sport? Regardless, the Sultan of Swat made a gesture, hit a bomb and fans have been talking about it since 1932.
3) Pete Rose Betting on Baseball – When arguably the best hitter in the sport’s history is not in the Hall of Fame because of gambling, fans tend to pick a side on whether he should be inducted or not. Pete Rose bet as a manager, not as a player, but his legacy will be forever tarnished thanks to his actions as a coach. Is there any other professional sport that has ever exiled such a prominent player?
2) Barry Bonds’ 756th Homerun – There is not a more controversial record setting moment in all of professional sports. When Bonds passed Hank Aaron’s career homerun mark he put a stamp on the steroid era and baseball’s record books. Most purists think he deserves to have his records erased, while others see steroids and PEDs as a part of the game.
1) Jackie Robinson Breaking the Color Barrier – It changed the game, our culture and our world forever. Jackie Robinson entered Major League Baseball almost a decade before the Civil Rights Movement began and played at a high level despite facing racism in every ballpark the Dodgers visited. His breakthrough impacted every sport, not just baseball, and served as one of the iconic moments that triggered a revolution of human equality.