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From Jane Leavy, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Boy and Sandy Koufax, comes the definitive biography of Babe Ruthâthe man Roger Angell dubbed "the model for modern celebrity."
He lived in the present tenseâin the cameraâs lens. There was no frame he couldnât or wouldnât 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 marketplaceâradios, automatic clothes washers, Brownie cameras, microphones and loudspeakersâBabe Ruth "made impossible events happen." Aided by his crucial partnership with Christy Walshâbusiness manager, spin doctor, damage control wizard, and surrogate father, all stuffed into one tightly buttoned double-breasted suitâRuth drafted the blueprint for modern athletic stardom.
His was a life of journeys and itinerariesâfrom 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 1927âa total that would not be exceeded until 1961, when Roger Maris did it with the aid of the extended modern seasonâhe embarked on the mother of all barnstorming tours, a three-week victory lap across America, accompanied by Yankee teammate Lou Gehrig. This was Babe Ruthâs 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 Ruthâs 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.
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