The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

by Jane Leavy
The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

by Jane Leavy


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From Jane Leavy, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Boy and Sandy Koufax, comes the definitive biography of Babe Ruth—the man Roger Angell dubbed "the model for modern celebrity."


The Boston Globe | Publishers Weekly | Kirkus | Newsweek | The Philadelphia Inquirer | The Progressive

Winner of the 2019 SABR Seymour Medal | Finalist for the PEN/ESPN Literary Sports Writing Award | Longlisted for Spitball Magazine’s Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year | Finalist for the NBCC Award for Biography

“Leavy’s newest masterpiece…. A major work of American history by an author with a flair for mesmerizing story-telling.” Forbes

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. 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, spartan 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. 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062380227
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 565,737
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Jane Leavy, award-winning former sportswriter and feature writer for the Washington Post, is author of the New York Times bestsellers Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy, The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood, and the comic novel Squeeze Play. She lives in Washington, D.C. and Truro, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Introduction xvii

Prologue June 13, 1902, Baltimore 1

Chapter 1 October 10, Providence 13

Chapter 2 October 10, Aboard the New York Central to Manhattan 33

Chapter 3 October 11, Trenton 57

Chapter 4 October 12, Cityline 89

Chapter 5 October 13, Asbury Park 119

Chapter 6 October 13-14, Aboard the Manhattan Limited to Lima 141

Chapter 7 October 15, Kansas City, Missouri 167

Chapter 8 October 16, Omaha 187

Chapter 9 October 17, Aboard the Rock Island Line to Des Moines 215

Chapter 10 October 18, Sioux City 239

Chapter 11 October 19, Denver 263

Chapter 12 October 21-22, Bay Area 295

Chapter 13 October 23, Bay Area II 315

Chapter 14 October 25, Marysville 331

Chapter 15 October 26, San Jose 361

Chapter 16 October 28, San Diego 381

Chapter 17 October 29, Fresno 399

Chapter 18 October 30, Los Angeles 435

Epilogue 465

Acknowledgments 479

Appendix 1 The Power of the Man 489

Appendix 2 The Babe's Portfolio 501

Author's Note and Sources 513

Index 593

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