He lived in the present tense-in the camera's lens. There was no frame he couldn't or wouldn't fill. He swung the heaviest bat, earned the most money, and incurred the biggest fines. He expanded notions of the possible. Like all the new-fangled gadgets then flooding the marketplace-radios, automatic clothes washers, Brownie cameras, microphones and loudspeakers-Babe Ruth made impossible events happen. Aided by his crucial partnership with Christy Walsh-business manager, spin doctor, damage control wizard, and surrogate father, all stuffed into one tightly buttoned double- breasted suit-Ruth drafted the blueprint for modern athletic stardom.
His was a life of journeys and itineraries-from uncouth to couth, impoverished to spendthrift, abandoned to abandon; from Baltimore to Boston to New York, and back to Boston at the end of his career for a finale with the only team that would have him. There were road trips and hunting trips; grand tours of foreign capitals and post season promotional tours, not to mention those 714 trips around the bases.
After hitting his 60th home run in September 1927-a total that would not be exceeded until 1961, when Roger Maris did it with the aid of the extended modern season-he embarked on the mother of all barnstorming tours, a three-week victory lap across America, accompanied by Yankee teammate Lou Gehrig. This was Babe Ruth's Louisiana Purchase: a star turn through the American heartland, during which he annexed, for Major League Baseball, for the Yankees, and for his own sweet self, uncharted major league territories.
Walsh called the tour a Symphony of Swat. The Omaha World Herald called it the biggest show since Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, and seven other associated circuses offered their entire performance under one tent. In The Big Fella, acclaimed biographer Jane Leavy recreates that 21-day circus and in so doing captures the romp and the pathos that defined Ruth's life and times. Drawing from more than 250 interviews, a trove of previously untapped documents, and Ruth family records, Leavy breaks through the mythology that has obscured the legend and delivers the man.
The Big Fella includes 32-pages of black-and-white photos and close to 40 black- and-white images throughout. Random House Blue Omni, Fall 2018
Format: Large Print, 992 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe, October 2018
Product Dimensions: 9 L × 6 W × 0 H
* Subject to availability