He was the Sultan of Swat. The Caliph of Clout. The Wizard of Whack. The Bambino. And simply, to his teammates, the Big Bam. From the award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Ted Williams comes the thoroughly original, definitively ambitious, and exhilaratingly colorful biography of the largest legend ever to loom in baseball-and in the history of organized sports. "[Montville is] one of America's best sportswriters." -Chicago Tribune Babe Ruth was more than baseball's original superstar. For eighty-five years, he has remained the sport's reigning titan. He has been named Athlete of the Century . . . more than once. But who was this large, loud, enigmatic man Why is so little known about his childhood, his private life, and his inner thoughts In The Big Bam, Leigh Montville, whose recent New York Times bestselling biography of Ted Williams garnered glowing reviews and offered an exceptionally intimate look at Williams's life, brings his trademark touch to this groundbreaking, revelatory portrait of the Babe.
This book represents an ambitious endeavor: to lift the fog from so many periods and events that shroud the life of Babe Ruth, perhaps the best-known athlete in the history of North America. Beginning with an incisive reconstruction of Ruth's childhood, Montville, an award-winning baseball writer best known for his recent biography of Ted Williams, can boast of having published the best Ruth biography to date, one that will be consulted regularly as the contemporary assault on Ruth's records serves to focus renewed attention on his life and times. Although the author has perhaps promised greater revelations than are in fact revealed, his adroit organization of the historical material-enhanced by newly studied archival material and oral history transcripts, together with his flair for marshalling undisputed facts that are intertwined with plausible speculations-has produced an engaging, entertaining, and eminently readable biography. New fans and older ones will be rewarded with by Montville's quite remarkable effort to paint a portrait, warts and all, of a larger-than-life character. Recommended for the sports shelves of every library in America, and beyond. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/06.]-Gilles Renaud, Ontario Court of Justice Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 02, 2006
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Excerpt from The Big Bam by Leigh Montville
The little boy and the man get on the Wilkens Avenue trolley on the morning of June 13, 1902. It is a Friday. They are off on a trip of great dimensions. Details are important but do not seem to be available. There is so much we want to know. There is so much we never will.
Is it really morning
Or maybe early afternoon
Probably not night.
The man and the boy take seats in the second row. Or maybe they are all the way in the back. The boy is on the outside so he can see the streets of Baltimore pass. Or maybe he is on the inside. Maybe he is looking at his shoes.
The jangle of nickels and pennies rolling through the conductor ' s coin box is background noise. Wasn ' t the coin box always background noise on a trolley The ding-ding of the bell is heard when the trolley makes a stop. What is the weather The Baltimore Sun predicted showers and cooler. Is it raining right now Cool enough for a jacket Don ' t know. Can ' t be sure.
The man is sad or resolute or perhaps secretly happy. The boy is . . . does he even know where he is going Is the packed little suitcase on the seat next to him a clue Or is there no suitcase He is dressed in the best clothes that he owns. Or are there no best clothes The conversation is quiet, short sentences, the man ' s mind lost somewhere in the business of the moment. Or perhaps there is no conversation, not a word. Or perhaps there are laughs, the man talking and talking, joking, to take the edge away.
Imagination tries to build atop slim facts. The man is 31 years old. That is birth certiﬁcate truth. His wife is 28 years old. That is another birth certiﬁcate truth. Their ﬁrst son, the boy, as recorded in the Ofﬁce of the Registrar of Vital Statistics, Baltimore City, by midwife Minnie Graf, is seven years, three months, seven days old, except . . . except he will believe for most of his years that his birthday is one year and one day earlier.
Why is that
The urge is to sketch in the rest of the picture, make judgments, add colors and emotions and maybe a passing billboard or two. Can it be resisted The mother has kissed the boy good-bye at the front door of 426 West Camden Street, a tear rolling down her cheek. Or she has said nothing. Or she was relieved. Or maybe she wasn ' t even there. The boy is sad, crying. Or he is mute, deﬁant. Or he is clueless and conﬁdent, always conﬁdent.
The biggest mysteries in the life of George Herman Ruth ' and some researchers say Herman is his true middle name, handed down from his father, and some say it is his conﬁrmation name ' are front-loaded and frustrating. The topographic representations of most famous lives feature well-deﬁned peaks of public achievement, brightly lit and easily seen, but a fog often settles over the personal life below. The fog here covers everything.