Babe Ruth: Launching the Legend


How the Babe shook America from its doldrums with the crack of his bat

For a country exhausted by the tragedies of war and depleted by a raging flu epidemic, the timing of George Herman Ruth's arrival in New York in 1920 was perfect. Baseball had never seen anything like him on or off the field. His confident swagger, seductive charisma, and powerhouse swing at the plate was just what the country needed to forget its sorrows and kick off the ...

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How the Babe shook America from its doldrums with the crack of his bat

For a country exhausted by the tragedies of war and depleted by a raging flu epidemic, the timing of George Herman Ruth's arrival in New York in 1920 was perfect. Baseball had never seen anything like him on or off the field. His confident swagger, seductive charisma, and powerhouse swing at the plate was just what the country needed to forget its sorrows and kick off the jubilation of the Jazz Age.

Babe Ruth: Launching the Legend is the story of that incredible year and the transforming power of Babe Ruth and the Yankees of 1920.

When Americans wanted desperately to move on, drink gin, dance the Charleston, and enjoy a good game of baseball, the Babe gave it to them. Big time. Not only did he hit a record-breaking fifty-four home runs that season, he unleashed a new way to play the game, helped launch the Yankees dynasty, and saved baseball in the midst of the devastating "Black Sox" scandal. History was in the making.

Told in luminous prose by acclaimed baseball writer Jim Reisler, Babe Ruth: Launching the Legend is a rare glimpse into the story that started it all, a year when Ruth was simply a ballplayer, an emerging star on the very verge of becoming a mythic hero.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It seems only fitting that this book about Babe Ruth's first year with the Yankees should hit shelves just as the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry will be reaching new heights. Looking back on Ruth's sale to and first season with the Yankees, Reisler (Babe Ruth Slept Here; Before They Were the Bronx Bombers) analyzes the Babe's impact on baseball, America and the roaring '20s. While the detail in covering every game of a season slows the book at times, it does capture the great media attention Ruth received in his first year in the Big Apple. The book also demonstrates how Ruth revolutionized America's pastime and how he helped save the game from the "Black Sox" scandal that turned much of the nation away from the sport. Reisler's book has morsels of revisionist baseball history (e.g., he supports arguments that Red Sox owner Harry Frazee did not sell Ruth for the money to open his play No, No, Nanette, as has often been reported). The end of the 1920 season is slightly anticlimactic since Ruth, though the main box-office draw, didn't bring the Yankees a championship that came three years later, when he had the help of a few more former Red Sox players. Given the countless books that have been written on Ruth, there is sure to be some overlap here, but Reisler's telling makes for a fresh take on some familiar topics. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
How did George Herman Ruth go from being one of the game's top lefty pitchers to a franchise-building hitter whose prodigious slugging helped create the cult of the home run? In addition to his considerable skills and swaggering public style, Ruth enjoyed a press corps that was eager to assist in "launching" his legend, which has only grown over the decades. Reisler (Black Writers/Black Baseball; Babe Ruth Slept Here) tells a captivating story of how one man changed-and, many would say, saved-baseball at a pivotal time when the game was suffering from the scandal of the 1919 White Sox. He takes Babe through his first season with the Yankees in 1920 and retells many sparkling tales of Babe's colossal talent, energy, and appetites. Recommended for most collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071432436
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/13/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,378,120
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Reisler has written articles for the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and Newsweek. He is the acclaimed author of three baseball books: Black Writers/Black Baseball, Babe Ruth Slept Here, and Before They Were the Bombers. He lives in Irvington, New York.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A play-by-play look at the 1920 Yankees

    Harry Frazee may have been a baseball baron, but he poured his heart and soul into Broadway productions. No one really ever solved the mystery of why he needed cash in 1919, but his name went down in history as the man who sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Frazee, an all but forgotten man by the masses, probably made the worst deal in the history of baseball. Ruth, who went on to become an American icon, only left one thing behind with the Red Sox . . . the "Curse of the Bambino," an epithet frequently discussed on street corners, in books, and magazine articles. Everyone had their opinion about the curse, many with mixed reactions, but one thing they did know was that "it was Ruth who would have the last laugh." (pg. 13) Mr. Frazee should have stuck with the Babe and baseball and left Broadway to New York.

    One of the most amazing things about this book was the intense play-by-play recreation of many, many games. It gives the reader a chance to get to know many of the fine players on the Yankees who were overshadowed by Ruth. I came away from the book with a good feel for some of the players, players I had never heard much about. Some like Mays, whom I probably would not have cared for then and now don't, but others I came to enjoy their game and personalities. A good two thirds of the book is set up in the play-by-play manner with very little off field shenanigans described. The book seemed to relax toward the end and took on a more conversational field, making it more enjoyable to read. This book does not cover much biographical material and people like Brother Mathias were only casually mentioned. This is a "play ball" type of book, the kind that one can almost hear coming out of the speakers of an old Crosley radio. If that is your type of book, this is one of the best!

    Quill says: If you want to read about the 1920 Yankees and get an incredible insider's look at Babe, the team, and a play-by-play look at the season, you're going to love this book!

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