The Big Fella (Hardcover)
Babe Ruth and the World He Created
Harper, 9780062380227, 640pp.
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
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."
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.
About the Author
Jane Leavy is an award-winning former sportswriter and feature writer for the Washington Post. She is the author of Sandy Koufax and the comic novel Squeeze Play, called “the best novel ever written about baseball” by Entertainment Weekly. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Praise For The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created…
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Does the world need another biography of Babe Ruth? If it’s this one, then the answer is an emphatic yes.”
— Kirkus (starred review)
“This is one of the best sports biographies I have ever read. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, it reveals with stunning insight both the talents and the demons that drove Mickey Mantle, bringing him to life as never before.”
— Doris Kearns Goodwin on The Last Boy
“The incomparable and mysterious Sandy Koufax is revealed…. This is an absorbing book, beautifully written.”
— Wall Street Journal on Sandy Koufax
“Leavy has hit it out of the park…A lot more than a biography. It’s a consideration of how we create our heroes, and how this hero’s self perception distinguishes him from nearly every other great athlete in living memory… a remarkably rich portrait.”
— Time on Sandy Koufax
“An exhaustively researched study that paints an intriguing portrait of the famously reclusive Dodger pitcher.”
— Sports Illustrated on Sandy Koufax
“The Last Boy is something new in the history of the histories of the Mick. It is hard fact, reported by someone greatly skilled at that craft...and presented so that the reader and not the author draws nearly all the conclusions.”
— The New York Times Book Review on The Last Boy
“Jane Leavy could write the biography of a tube of toothpaste and I’d be first in line to buy it. Jane Leavy on Babe Ruth? Home run! Think you know the Babe? Not a chance—not until you read The Big Fella.”
— Jonathan Eig, author of Ali and Luckiest Man
“Leavy has cleared the bases with a compelling account of the game’s greatest, Babe Ruth. Leavy brilliantly describes the complexities that accompany an elite talent and the blessing and curse of stardom while documenting the essential role of an attorney to provide vision, create a protective umbrella, and facilitate the most important goal for a unique athlete: self-understanding.”
— Scott Boras, attorney for Major League Baseball Players
“Jane Leavy writing a book about Babe Ruth is the biggest thing that has happened in my life since Santa Claus visited my classroom in the second grade. This is Babe Ruth off the diamond and out of uniform, a very flawed human being but still very much a hero, a man who could lift an army of beggars and wannabes onto his back and carry them to their dreams.”
— Bill James, Baseball Writer