cover image The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

Jane Leavy. Harper, $32.50 (560p) ISBN 978-0-06-238022-7

Sportswriter Leavy (Sandy Koufax) energetically narrates Ruth’s larger-than-life story in an entertaining and colorful biography. Troubled by their son’s misbehavior, Ruth’s parents sent the seven-year-old Ruth to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, across town from their home in Baltimore. There, Ruth developed his baseball skills thanks to Brother Matthias, who showed Ruth how to hit. Ruth joined the Baltimore Orioles in 1914, was sold to the Boston Red Sox a few years later, and a year later was traded to the Yankees. In his career Ruth had 2,873 hits, 714 home runs, and a lifetime batting average of .342, and as Leavy points out, Ruth lived as hard as he played; he “imbibed whatever life had to offer.” Ruth’s accomplishments and his appetites for drink and women (he had several extramarital affairs) coincided with the rise of sports journalism and marketing, and his manager, Christy Walsh, was instrumental in creating his public image. In 1927, Ruth slammed his 60th home run of the season, led the Yankees to a four-game sweep of the Washington Senators in the World Series, and embarked on a publicized three-week barnstorming tour of the country with Lou Gehrig to celebrate. Leavy’s captivating biography reveals Ruth as a man who swung his bat with the same purposeful abandon that he lived his life. (Oct.)