Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Club - The Big Bam

There have been many biographies of Babe Ruth but I hadn't read one before. This book came out in 2007. Pretty much everyone who ever saw Ruth play or knew him personally is dead by now and the author relied heavily on materials gathered for other Ruth biographies. I can't tell you how definitive it is but the reviews on Amazon.com indicate that it is a well done. I can't say that I knew much about Ruth beyond what any baseball fan should know (714 career home runs, 60 home runs in one season, the 1927 Yankees, etc.) so I learned a lot, not just about Ruth but the state of the game in those days.

Ruth's early days, before he showed up at St. Mary's Home in Baltimore when he was 8 years old are pretty much unknown. The author leaves it at that. He reports on the speculations about his early life but clearly labels them as speculations. He started his professional career with the Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league team. Then he was signed by the Red Sox, mainly as a pitcher. In those days, home runs were not an important part of baseball. But the Babe learned how to hit home runs while at St. Mary's and continued to hit them in professional baseball. In the early years of his career his owners and managers wanted him to pitch but he wanted to play everyday and hit home runs.

The author goes into details on how Ruth came to the Yankees. Lots of underhanded stuff going on between the Red Sox and Yankees owners.

I knew virtually nothing about Ruth's personal life. He was bigger than life on the baseball diamond and bigger than life in his private life as well. Women, booze, golf, and automobile accidents were his life.

His post-baseball life was sad. He wanted to manage but nobody wanted him. The last few years of his life were spend fighting cancer. He died pretty young, at 53. If you don't know much about Babe Ruth, I'd recommend this book. I actually listened to it on CD but I wasn't real pleased by the reading.

1 comment:

night owl said...

Leigh Montville's a great writer. He's one of the few writers who fall into the category of: I will read the book, regardless of the subject, just because he wrote it.

But I'm lazy when it comes to reading books, so I haven't read that.