The Big Fella by Jane Leavy

This is one of the many books on Babe Ruth. He was one of the most written about person in the 20th century. Jane Leavy took a different approach to write the book. She jumps around in time periods but it’s not distracting. I found out things I never knew about the Babe and that is the reason I wanted to read it. Thanks to Hanspostcard again for another great recommendation.

When I was growing up I read everything I could about Babe Ruth. I never was a Yankee fan and never will be but I do love this period of the Yankees. Unfortunately, some people think of Ruth as this huge obese baseball player because of movies like the terrible “The Babe” in 1992. When Babe came up he was a great athlete and didn’t start getting out of shape until his last years. One thing that I would love to see about the Babe is a well-made movie…we have yet to see it.

The man’s popularity was only rivaled by Charlie Chaplin. If anyone was made for a time period it was this man. He could be crude, brash, stubborn, and generous and was the idol of millions of kids during the 20s and 30s. He was so much better than anyone of his peers that it seemed unfair. The man could rise to the occasion when needed. He did everything big, whether it was hitting a home run, striking out, or living his unfettered life.

Sometimes an athlete is just so much better than his peers and they would be a generational talent. Tiger Woods and Michael Jordon would be in this select group.

When Babe retired in 1935 with 714 home runs the closest player to that mark at the time was his old Yankee teammate Lou Gehrig with 378 home runs (after the 1935 season)…that is a difference of 336 home runs. That is domination.

Ruth had an agent by the name of Christy Walsh. Walsh was basically the first sports agent of his day. He created a highly successful syndicate of ghostwriters for baseball’s biggest stars, coining the term “ghost writer” in the process. Walsh, in many ways, was a pioneer in the public relations field. The relationship between the two was interesting to read about.

The Babe made 70 grand a season playing for the Yankees and at least the same on advertising and barnstorming across the nation in small towns bringing baseball to towns that never would have seen Major League Baseball in the offseason. He was still grossly underpaid for the money he brought into the Yankees. When he would play, the crowds would increase dramatically.

Although black players were stupidly not allowed to play in the Major Leagues at that time, Babe and Lou Gerhig’s teams played black teams in towns all around in the offseason.

If you have interest in Babe Ruth I would recommend this book and Robert Creamer’s book Babe Ruth: The Legend Comes to Life.

“I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” – Babe Ruth

 

 

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

25 thoughts on “The Big Fella by Jane Leavy”

      1. that was my mom’s theory too, football is big because it’s violent and baseball is too passive for a chunk of the population. Never too late to head out to a ballpark though Jeremy!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Interesting piece of sideline trivia in the same vein…Ken watched them film Bull Durham. He was living across from the field. The snotty actors got pissy with him because he was weed-eating his yard in the mornings when he was off duty.

    Ken is a Navy man, into all things military & law. He could gave a crap about Hellyweird or musicians.

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    1. It figures…geez no one can live because what they are doing is more important.

      LOL if more people were like him we would not have big headed celebrities.

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      1. Another sideline piece of trivia…when they were filming Brainstorm (Natalie’s last film), Ken and others provided security for the film crew. He met Natalie. She brought him & his co-workers donuts & coffee (he was a Deputy back then). She sat on the hood of his patrol car and chatted. He thought the world of her, not being into Hellyweird. RTP was covered by Durham County SD:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstorm_%281983_film%29

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      2. Glad to hear she was so nice. She was a looker that is for sure. Something was amiss on how she died.

        That was interesting on how they were not going to finish it at first.

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  2. As a relative newcomer to baseball and having seen a couple of docos on Babe ruth, he just seems such an enigma to me. Because he didn’t look like a formidable athlete, on the contrary, he looked out of shape. But my God his record is astonishing and the stories about him legendary. Great post Bad!

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    1. The old film of him is mostly Ruth over 30 years old. He was 6.2 and weighed 215 in his 20s…he was so strong and his hands so huge… what is so great about him is he was a great left handed pitcher when he came up. He could have been one of the best left handed pitchers… he was 94-46 with an ERA of 2.28…. but he loved hitting so much…
      Thanks!

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  3. I thought Levy did a great job of covering his early life- some things there that I wasn’t aware of. Robert Creamer’s book is still my Babe Go-To Book but this one is well worth reading. I wonder who Levy will write about next? Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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    1. She did bring up a lot about his parents I didn’t know about. I liked what she did…jumping around in time and not all in order. It was refreshing.
      I still need to read the Koufax one…I read the Mantle book.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The book on Sandy is my favorite of the three.. as she said in the introduction- the books about The Babe are numerous- she took a different angle than the birth to death telling of the story and I think succeeded.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea he is the second oldest player in the league next to Albert. Roberts will rest him also and they really are careful with him.

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  4. I like that comparison to Jordan and Woods too, one could add in Wayne Gretzky… the guys who not only dominated a sport for years but really single-handedly brought it to a whole generation. Baseball’s had tons of excellent players since, but none have had the domination nor the mass appeal of Babe Ruth. To be hitting 60 home runs in a season when most other bigtime stars struggled to get 20 AND be a top-flight pitcher to boot… that’s hard to imagine let alone top.

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