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Must-Click Link: Babe Ruth’s pioneering cancer treatment

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Babe Ruth was a baseball trailblazer, ushering in the live ball era and elevating baseball to an unprecedented place in the national consciousness, mostly by, you know, elevating the baseball. But did you know that he was also a pioneer in cancer treatment as well?

His doctors were anyway, as this article in Popular Science explains. Indeed, he was likely the first cancer patient to receive chemotherapy, a treatment which had only been developed a few years prior and which, before the Bambino, had only been tested on lab mice:

Miraculously, the drug worked. At least for a short time. Ruth started daily injections on June 29, 1947. In short order, Bikhazi reports, he gained back some of the weight he’d lost, reported less pain, and was finally able to swallow solid food. He continued chemotherapy for about six weeks and various radiation treatments for another year, as doctors cast about in search of a permanent cure. They never found one, and Ruth ultimately died of cancer on August 16, 1948, at the age of 53. But in the process of that trial and error treatment, Bikhazi reports, Ruth became perhaps the first patient to receive sequential radiation and chemotherapy. Now called “chemo-beamo,” this two-pronged approach is standard treatment for many cancers today.

As the article notes, Ruth’s treatments occasion some ethical questions. Partially related to the idea of using relatively untested treatments in humans. Partially related to the fact that, if he were not World Famous Athlete Babe Ruth, he would not have received such treatments. Partially because Ruth himself, it seems, was not really aware of the nature of the treatments he was receiving and, perhaps, did not even know that he had cancer.

The whole thing is fascinating, both in the manner in which it illuminates Ruth’s illness and death and in the way it helped advance the science of fighting cancer.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.