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

 

 

Babe Ruth’s last surviving daughter dies at 102

Julia Ruth Stevens, the adopted daughter of Babe Ruth, died on Saturday in an assisted living facility in Henderson, Nev.

Babe Ruth married Claire Hodgson on the opening day of the 1929 baseball season. He adopted Julia, and Claire adopted Dorothy (Babe Ruth’s biological daughter) in 1930, and they all lived together, with Claire’s extended family, in an apartment on West 88th Street.

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/26218325/babe-ruth-last-surviving-daughter-dies-102

The Boys of Summer

Opening Day…Baseball is back and I’m thrilled. I’ve always been a baseball fan first. No other sport matches up against it. It’s a game that takes a tremendous amount of skill to play. Most players who get drafted never get to play in the majors. Hitting a major league curveball is probably the hardest thing to do in all sports.

Anyway, there is nothing like spring training and the hope for a new season. Every team is tied at 0 in the standings. I really wish an MLB team was in the city I live in…we have an NFL team that I would trade in a heartbeat to get an MLB team. Baseball is not an action-packed game like basketball, soccer or hockey but there is a game within a game. When you get up to bat…no one is going to block for you…no it’s you against that pitcher … What I love is the different sized fields, no clock, no salary cap, players with quirks, fastballs that are 95 and above and the people who have the skills to play it right…it is a beautiful thing to see.

Baseball really hasn’t changed too much over the years except for instant replay and some small changes. What you see now is pretty much what you saw in the 1920s except the players make a tad bit more. It’s one of the few things in America that stays consistent.

It’s a game of numbers and history…From Honus Wagner to Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Jackie Robinson to Willie Mays to Hank Aaron to Sandy Koufax to Clayton Kershaw to Mike Trout… No sport’ has a history like baseball. Numbers and players are markers in that history.

I love to listen to broadcasts on the radio and to catch a game in mid-summer after I get done with what I am doing. In an instant, I’m back on the little league and then high school field.

The cold weather is almost gone and it is time for me to follow my Dodgers all the way to a World Series again…but this time…win.

 

 

 

If you could have dinner with 9 people dead or still living…who would they be?

My list is pretty shallow sounding vs what some people would say… like Lincoln, Washington… Nope…no politicians, generals, or leaders…

1: John Lennon – He could be a walking contradiction but so were a lot of British rock stars but he was very intelligent and a superb songwriter. He loved to shock at times but could be very warm, generous and very honest. After he was killed his legend made him out to be some saint…he would have been the first to say he was not one….he didn’t suffer fools well.

2: Babe Ruth – What a guy… To me the best all-around player…Not only was he one of the best power hitters he was also a great left-handed pitcher…I would love to talk to him…get some dogs and beer and enjoy my time with the Babe. Yes, others have broken some of his records…but do they have 94 wins? On top of everything else… he had a huge personality.

3: Harpo Marx – The Marx brother that is my favorite. Yes Groucho is better known but Harpo was one of the most decent guys you could ever be around…he also hung out with the Algonquin round table crowd in the 1920s with writers Alexander Woolcott, brilliant playwright George Kaufman and many more. Harpo came from a very poor family at the turn of the century and he came to know some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century.

4: Buster Keaton – Probably one of the best filmmakers of the 20th century. He gets overshadowed by Charlie Chaplin. Buster didn’t fake his gags…he didn’t cut away from shots…what you saw on film is what he did. He was a brilliant filmmaker.

5: Charlie Chaplin – Charlie and Babe Ruth were two of the best known celebrities of the 1920s. Charlie’s character The Tramp is still one of the most recognizable characters in history.

6: Jackie Robinson – Yes he was a Dodger and I’m a Dodger fan…but it’s more than that. He had to take so much abuse that probably contributed to his early death. He was a pioneer and should have been just another player if not for stupidity.

7: Keith Moon – I would prepare myself and sleep for as long as possible the day before and then try to keep up with him for as long as possible.

8: Clara Bow – My favorite actress hands down. The original and the only IT girl and could say more with her actions than anyone else with words…she lit up the screen.

9: Keith Richards – The only living member of my wishlist (though some would argue that fact) Keith is just cool period. If I had to describe rock and roll to an alien… I would hand them a copy of Brown Sugar and a picture of a 1972 Keith Richards… I love that he has survived…God Bless you, Keith.