Legend of the Curse of the Bambino


Some believe that the ghost of Babe Ruth — the most famous baseball player who ever lived — is still watching over the game today. What would you say?
It all started on January 5, 1920, a fateful day in baseball history, when the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for a mere pile of cash. That's when, some say, the Red Sox's reversal of fortune began. Before Ruth was traded, the Red Sox had been the best team in baseball, winning five of fifteen World ...

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Some believe that the ghost of Babe Ruth — the most famous baseball player who ever lived — is still watching over the game today. What would you say?
It all started on January 5, 1920, a fateful day in baseball history, when the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for a mere pile of cash. That's when, some say, the Red Sox's reversal of fortune began. Before Ruth was traded, the Red Sox had been the best team in baseball, winning five of fifteen World Series. Since then, the Yankees have had twenty-six World Series to their credit. The Red Sox have come painstakingly close over those decades, but not close enough. Could it be that Babe Ruth took revenge on the team that traded him so long ago — making the Red Sox wait a torturous eighty-six years before they would win another World Series?
Baseball legend? Fate? Coincidence? Here's the story of the Curse of the Bambino — the greatest baseball legend ever told.

In one frenzied season, a book title has become imprinted in the consciousness of American sports fans. The Curse of the Bambino, a phrase Dan Shaughnessy has coined, will live in infamy for Red Sox fans because it summs up 70 years of horror and heartbreak which all began when Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees. With old-fashioned New England humor and the authority of a lifelong Red Sox fan, Dan Shaughnessy captures all the joys and heartbreaks that the curse of the Bambino has brought to Boston.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Boston Globe sportswriter Shaughnessy contends that the cash sale in 1920 of star Babe Ruth by his team, the Boston Red Sox, to the New York Yankees put a curse on the Beantown franchise that has prevailed for 70 years. In support of that argument, he reviews the history of the team--but with a difference. Most books about the Sox during this era may indulge in necessary masochism; Shaughnessy's is a super-deluxe masochism. He concentrates almost exclusively on end-season and post-season play, discussing in agonizing detail the team's four defeats in the World Series, its lack of success in the only two playoff games in league history, the collapse in the 1988 American League Championship Series--and all those times when the Bosox failed to lead their league or division by a single game or two. In story after story of near-triumph, the book should delight the team's most fanatically loyal followers, who will find it the verbal equivalent of a hair shirt. (June)
Publishers Weekly
Shaughnessy, author of the adult title The Curse of the Bambino and credited with coining the phrase, explores the origins of the alleged curse that kept the Boston Red Sox from winning the World Series for 86 years. "Dad, who was the greatest ballplayer who ever lived?" asks Kate, as she and her father head to the opening game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. "That's easy, Kate... It was George Herman Ruth." Payne (The Shot Heard 'Round the World, reviewed above) portrays a ghostlike image of Babe Ruth looming over the stadium. The father continues, "Once the Babe left Boston, the Red Sox didn't win again for more than eighty years." The father then fills Kate in with details of Ruth's contributions to the 1918 Series against the Cubs, which put the Sox up three to one in the Series they ultimately won. A pleasing tall-tale quality pervades the book once Ruth is traded to the Yankees, ushering in decades of losses for Boston. The artist comically depicts the Babe tripping up his former teammates-holding onto shortstop Pesky in 1946 in St. Louis and kicking a ball between first baseman Bill Buckner's legs in New York in 1986. The final spread shows Boston's celebration of a curse-breaking victory: "But then came the magical season of 2004, when the Red Sox beat the Yankees, won the World Series, and lifted the Curse of the Bambino forever." Dad tells Kate he never did believe in the curse: "I don't think the Babe would have ever done something like that." Nevertheless, the famous hex occasions some mighty witty depictions of the Babe thwarting his former team. Ages 5-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Facts about Babe Ruth's celebrated status in baseball are blended with mythical beliefs about his ghostly presence at Fenway Park. Prior to Ruth's trade from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees in 1920, he had led his team to a record five wins in the World Series. After the trade, the Yankees went on to win the championship twenty-six times, while the Red Sox failed to win another World Series for eighty-four years. During this time the legend of Babe Ruth began to grow. Some believed that he haunted Fenway Park cursing the Red Sox because they had given him away for mere money. Ruth appears as bigger than life participating in plays in the stadium—sometimes blowing a ball out of bounds, sometimes holding a player back from running to the next base, sometimes causing a ground ball to veer in a different direction. Replicas of newspaper articles describing these happenings are accompanied by illustrations of Ruth causing this mischief. The large, full color illustrations feature Babe Ruth as a huge, out-of-proportion baseball player. He is shown as being taller than the stadium itself. His body is massive on the top and tapers to thin legs and small feet. Framed as a story being told by a father to his daughter, the tone conveys a sense of love of the Red Sox and admiration for Babe Ruth. It concludes with the Red Sox's victory in winning the World Series in 2004. Unfortunately, much of the text is superimposed on the illustrations, which sometimes makes it difficult to read, and may be a problem for teachers and librarians who would like to read the story aloud. 2005, A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon and Schuster, Ages 6 to 10.
—Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-7-A humorous look at the struggles of the Boston Red Sox. As a young fan and her father enter Fenway Park on opening day, Dad describes the career of Babe Ruth, "the greatest ballplayer who ever lived," and relates how Ruth led the Red Sox to three World Series wins in 1915, 1916, and 1918. He explains that after Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees in 1920, "it seemed that all of Boston's good luck went to New York with the great Bambino." As Dad details instances of the team's bad luck, Payne visualizes a genial, mischievous Ruth impeding fielders and blowing on pop-ups to turn them into unexpected home runs. Ruth is a cartoonish figure, his oversize torso somehow balanced atop spindly, undersized calves. The Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, besting their old rivals and playing their final game under a full moon caused by a lunar eclipse. In a nice touch, Payne depicts Ruth as a benevolent man-in-the-moon beaming down upon the ballpark. The framing story is slight and predictable, but baseball fans will enjoy this book for its lively and fun-filled look at Babe Ruth and the long-suffering, but ultimately triumphant, Red Sox.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Framing his plaint as a Dad answering his daughter's question one opening day at Fenway Park, a sportswriter for the Boston Globe recaps Babe Ruth's early career as a Red Sox star and his infamous sale to the Yankees. Then he goes on to tally the succession of heartbreaking, last-minute bobbles and defeats that denied the Sox a World Series win for the next eight and a half decades. Recalling the art for his edition of Ernest L. Thayer's Casey at the Bat (2003), Payne presents a series of on-field scenes featuring many recognizable players in old-style uniforms. Over them looms The Babe, sometimes taller than Fenway's Green Monster, invisibly holding Johnny Pesky back from throwing home in the '46 Series, blowing Bucky Dent's homer over the wall in that '78 playoff game, and giving Mookie Wilson's grounder a nudge to send it trickling between Bill Buckner's legs. Curse or just coincidence? Shaughnessy declines to come down on one side or the other, and the Red Sox's win in 2004, commemorated by a spread that drops the perfunctory plotline and bears other signs of hasty construction, makes it all moot anyway. Or so Sox fans would like to think. (afterword, brief bibliography) (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689872358
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 2/22/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,412,223
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Shaughnessy is a sports columnist and associate editor for the Boston Globe, as well as the author of the adult books At Fenway and The Curse of the Bambino. When not writing, Mr. Shaughnessy can often be found at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. He lives with his family in Boston.

C.F. Payne has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the Texas Bluebonnet winner Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy and Turkey Bowl, both written by Phil Bildner. He also illustrated the New York Times bestsellers The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, both by John Lithgow. He teaches at the Columbus College of Design, where he is the chair of the Illustration Department. C.F. Payne lives with his wife and children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit him at CFPayne.com.

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