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  • The Best Babe Ruth Book

    Just finished thurman munson by thurman munson and Ten Rings by Yogi. I am in the middle fo Koppett's Concise History of MLB and was now looking for a book on the Babe...

    Can anyone point my in the direction of one of the better ones. No adjenda, no speculation...just his life on and off the field....

    Thanks
    Bryans
    Always collecting Yankees...
    Especially: Jeter, Posada, Munson, Melky Cabrera, Mattingly

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  • #2
    This is a cliched selection, but my choice for the greatest American sports bio PERIOD, as well as the greatest Ruth bio, remains the same: Robert Creamer's timeless: "Babe: The Legend Comes to Life."

    Exhaustively researched, it was published in the early 1970's, I believe. That gives it the advantage of having been written and researched while a lot of men who knew Ruth, and played with or against him, were still alive. This included, for instance, the man who threw the alleged called shot in 1932, and the man who threw his famous titanic HR #714, when Ruth was totally washed up, but the ball went a zillion feet.

    And Creamer is a very good writer.

    God only knows how many hours Creamer spent researching this book, which is slightly over 400 pages long in a small paperback version. But you will learn about EVERYTHING, including things you don't really want to (e.g., a discussion on the size of Ruth's penis, as well as those of Frank "Home Run" Baker and Del Pratt, both of whom apparently were built more like equines than we mere men, in that regard).

    You come away from the book concluding that the truest and most important line in the book was at the end of the chapter on his "incarceration" with the Xavieran monks, who included the man he admired like no other, the towering Brother Mathias (born before the Civil War and over 6'6", plus huge): The animal was out of his cage now, and nothing but death was ever going to put him back.

    But Creamer came away from all his research with the clear sense that despite Ruth's incredible lack of any sophistication or civilization whatsoever ("Hey, [name of teammate], who was that c--- I saw you with last night?", when it was the guy's WIFE), Ruth was a guy nobody could truly dislike... except Leo Durocher.

    There is SO much material in that book. I've read it about 12 times, and have never wearied of it. If you get going on a day where you have nothing else you want to do, you can go right through it. But it won't be the last time you read it, I promise you that.

    BaseballHistoryNut

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    • #3
      This is clear cut boat race imo. It all starts with Creamer's work Bryan. If this were a brainstorming web, Creamer's book belongs in the middle of the page, circled in a bold color. Others can stem from that. You can expand and learn other tidbits here and there, depending on how deep you want to go, or what direction you want to dig from there, but Creamer's is the centerpiece. As real as it gets.

      I believe it took him around 7 years to write the book but he was also writing for SI at the time, so he wasn't exactly able to hurry or focus on just it. Came out in '74 along with Wagenheim's, which is also good. That and Smelser's book should probably be next on your list. Babe in Red Stockings and Launching the Legend are also great. Even though its not an autobiography in the truest sense of the word, "The Babe Ruth Story" is a nice read. Tom Meany's book is not something I'd recommend. About halfway through "Big Bam" right now and its surprisingly good, with bits of info I wasn't aware of. Waite Hoyt apparently wrote a very good book about Ruth a long time ago but its very hard to find. I'm currently looking for a copy of it.

      So BHN has it right on. The short answer is obvious. Creamer. Depending how how much deeper you want to go from there with Babe, there are other books on him, and other books about other players, where you can still learn things about him. For instance "The Pitch That Killed," or "Luckiest Man," or hundreds of others.
      "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

      ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

      Comment


      • #4
        A great part in Creamer's book. He has a way of pulling you back through time and making you feel like you're right there.

        On Sunday, June 13, 1948, the Yankees celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of Yankee Stadium, and Ruth was invited to be there along with other members of the 1923 Yankees. Sick as he was, he was delighted with the idea. The Yankees held a banquet for all the old players at Ruppert's brewery the night before the game, but Ruth was not well enough to attend that. There was concern that he might not be at the Stadium either on Sunday because it was a dank, rainy day. But he came. The other old Yankees were already in the locker room when he arrived.

        "Here he is now," one of them said in a low voice, and Ruth came in slowly, helped by Paul Carey and Frank Dulaney, his male nurse. His face split into a grin, a shriveled caricature of the beaming one he used to have, and in his croacking voice he spoke to his old teammates, calling most of them by their nicknames. Dulaney helped him take off his street clothes and put on his uniform. The old teammates stayed away until he had his uniform on, and so did the photographers. Then they began to take pictures, with Ruth posing willingly. The old Yankees were gathered together for a group photograph. Ruth, stooped, smiling, stood in the middle of the back row. Joe Dugan, standing half behind him, had a hand on his shoulder, and so did Wally Pipp.

        The oldtimers began to go out onto the field, and Ruth, accompanied by Dulaney and Carey, followed slowly down the runway to the dugout. It was early and Ruth paused in the runway, a topcoat slung over his shoulders to keep off the chill. "I think you'd better wait inside," said Dulaney. "It's too damp here." Ruth was led back to the clubhouse and stayed there until it was nearly time for him to appear on the field. Then he came down the runway again and into the dugout, where room was made for hiim on the bench. Mel Harder, a Cleveland coach who had pitched against Ruth, came over to say hello.

        Ruth said hoarsely, "You remember when I got five for five off you in Cleveland and they booed me?"

        Harder smiled.

        "Line drives," Ruth croaked, "all to left field. And they booed the **** out of me."

        All the other oldtimers had been introduced, the applause from the big crowd rising and falling as each name was called. It was time for Ruth. He got to his feet, letting the topcoat fall from his shoulders, and took a bat to use as a cane. He looked up at the photographers massed in front of the dugout. His name rang out over the public address system, the roar of the crowd began and, as W.C. Heinz wrote, "He walked out into the cauldron of sound he must have known better than any other man."

        He walked slowly and he was smaller than Babe Ruth should have been. He paused for the photographers, leaning on the bat, looking up at the crowded tiers of people. Near home plate he was met by Ed Barrow, a month past his eightieth birthday, who hugged him. At the microphone Ruth spoke briefly, saying how proud he was to have hit the first home run in the Stadium and how good it was to see his old teammates. When the ceremonies were over and other old players trotted out to their positions for a two-inning game, Ruth left the field at Yankee Stadium for the last time. He was helped down into the dugout and back along the runway to the clubhouse. The topcoat was put over his shoulders again, and he kept it on in the clubhouse. He felt chilly. The glow of the excitement was wearing off. Dugan, who played only one inning of the oldtimers' game, came into the clubhouse.

        "Hiya, Babe," Dugan said, sitting down next to him.

        "Hello, Joe."

        "Can you use a drink?"

        "Just a beer."

        A small bar had been set up in a corner of the locker room, and Dugan got a drink for himself and a beer for Ruth and brought them back. They sat there awhile, sipping their drinks.

        "How are things, Jidge?" Dugan asked.

        "Joe, I'm gone," Ruth said. "I'm gone, Joe."

        He started to cry, and Dugan did too.
        "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

        ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

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        • #5
          The end of that book is so sad it's unbearable. But how many good bio's don't have sad endings?

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          • #6
            Although I consider Creamer's book on Babe the best, there are a few others that are worth reading. I really enjoyed Babe's Own Book of Baseball, just because of the way the story was told and the way it was written, although Babe getting his wife's last name wrong is inexcusable, but its Babe, so its also kind of humerous, imo. ANother book that doesnt get nearly enough press is Young Babe Ruth: His Early Life and Baseball Career, from the Memoirs of a Xaverian Brother. I found it well researched and very interesting and informative. I have always been interested in Ruth's younger years and his time at St. Mary's and this answered a lot of the previously unanswered questions I had. -Sasha
            “it is impossible to understand America without a thorough knowledge of baseball” -Mcafee

            Comment


            • #7
              Creamer did a heck of a job with his book. But there is another one out there that seems to have been passed over. By Marshall Smelser, "The Life That Ruth Built" as good as any I've ever seen on the Babe. Lots of info on Ruth's personal life as is Creamers but way more numbers, info on specific games, longest home runs, comments from teammates and those who played against him.

              I've got them all and Smelser's is a match for any out there. Another one, for sure this one has no match in dealing with Ruth's pitching years with the Red Sox. " The Babe in red Stockings", I pour over this book time and time again. Gives info on many individual games Babe pitched in, the early years.

              The very early Babe Ruth, the book Sasha mentioned, "His Early Life and Baseball Career", another high on my list.
              Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 05-30-2006, 09:29 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                When was the Smelser book published, and do you know if it is still in print?

                I find it very difficult to believe it will have any more in the way of quotations from ex-teammates and opponents than Creamer's book does, since Creamer's book is teeming with such things. But I WOULD be interested in Smelser's book if, as you assure us, it has more detailed accounts of long-distance blasts and specific games. The Creamer book only details specific games of obvious note--e.g., World Series games, the Ernie Shore game, the 3-HR's-at-Forbes game, etc. If this book details games of BASEBALL FACTUAL note, as opposed to baseball HISTORICAL note (that's poorly expressed, but I think you know what I mean at 2 a.m. :o), then hell, yeah, I want to add it to my collection of Ruth bio's.

                (Not only that, I will expedite my reading of the SABR-touted Walter Johnson bio, put the Cy Young bio on hold, and read this puppy next. .)

                But if the book is, say, 10 or 15 years older than Creamer's, it's going to be in the Puritan prose of that era, which I detest. And if it was written much later, it will be mostly second-hand information. Creamer caught most of those old-timers, including the ones from early in Ruth's career, while they were still alive. His book is kind of like the Beatles--it came along at exactly the correct point in time. (Yeah, strange analogy, but it's apposite.)

                BHN

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BaseballHistoryNut
                  When was the Smelser book published, and do you know if it is still in print?
                  Smelser's came out in '75 (a year after Creamer/Wagenheim). I believe '93 was the last reprint. You can get it here for pretty cheap. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080...Fencoding=UTF8


                  Then there's the Waite Hoyt book "Babe Ruth as I knew him" which is a tough one to find.

                  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...lance&n=283155

                  Joe, any idea why Babe in Red Stockings is so dang expensive? http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listi...Fencoding=UTF8

                  Is there a cheaper place that you know of?

                  Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/059...Fencoding=UTF8
                  Last edited by Sultan_1895-1948; 05-31-2006, 12:03 PM.
                  "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

                  ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BaseballHistoryNut
                    When was the Smelser book published, and do you know if it is still in print?
                    I find it very difficult to believe it will have any more in the way of quotations from ex-teammates and opponents than Creamer's book does, since Creamer's book is teeming with such things. But I WOULD be interested in Smelser's book if, as you assure us, it has more detailed accounts of long-distance blasts and specific games. The Creamer book only details specific games of obvious note--e.g., World Series games, the Ernie Shore game, the 3-HR's-at-Forbes game, etc. If this book details games of BASEBALL FACTUAL note, as opposed to baseball HISTORICAL note (that's poorly expressed, but I think you know what I mean at 2 a.m. :o), then hell, yeah, I want to add it to my collection of Ruth bio's.

                    (Not only that, I will expedite my reading of the SABR-touted Walter Johnson bio, put the Cy Young bio on hold, and read this puppy next. .)

                    But if the book is, say, 10 or 15 years older than Creamer's, it's going to be in the Puritan prose of that era, which I detest. And if it was written much later, it will be mostly second-hand information. Creamer caught most of those old-timers, including the ones from early in Ruth's career, while they were still alive. His book is kind of like the Beatles--it came along at exactly the correct point in time. (Yeah, strange analogy, but it's apposite.)

                    BHN
                    OK I see SULTAN gave an answer to your opening line, when was it published, is it still in print.

                    I'm not here to pick one over the other both Creamer and Smelser put out two of the best Babe books. What I like about Smelsers book is it contains a good deal of numbers, numbers dealing with some specific games less text than Creamer's.

                    The index is broken down into a good deal of specific "Babe stuff" and of course specific pages where you can find these bits on him. Automobile driving habits, accidents, temperament, generosity, empathy with prisoners, income earned aside from his yearly salary, notable spring trainings, his home runs some of his longest, all kinds of info and facts broken into easy to find sections, just follow then index.

                    As I did say both Creamer and Smelser great books but I think, for what ever reason Smelser's not as well noted by some.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, no, of course it's not as well noted. Robert Creamer's biography of Babe Ruth is, by far, the best known bio of any sports figure. As I said when I answered the creator of this thread, it's an almost cliched choice. But for a reason.

                      I look forward to reading this other book.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SHOELESSJOE3
                        OK I see SULTAN gave an answer to your opening line, when was it published, is it still in print.

                        I'm not here to pick one over the other both Creamer and Smelser put out two of the best Babe books. What I like about Smelsers book is it contains a good deal of numbers, numbers dealing with some specific games less text than Creamer's.

                        The index is broken down into a good deal of specific "Babe stuff" and of course specific pages where you can find these bits on him. Automobile driving habits, accidents, temperament, generosity, empathy with prisoners, income earned aside from his yearly salary, notable spring trainings, his home runs some of his longest, all kinds of info and facts broken into easy to find sections, just follow then index.

                        As I did say both Creamer and Smelser great books but I think, for what ever reason Smelser's not as well noted by some.
                        Creamer's index is no slouch Joe It has easily over 200 subtopics under "Ruth, George Herman"
                        "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

                        ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948
                          Creamer's index is no slouch Joe It has easily over 200 subtopics under "Ruth, George Herman"
                          Certainly, as I said two of my favorites I would say Creamer's is more detailed.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You've chosen a word very well there. He did indeed have EMPATHY for prisoners. Empathy, not just "sympathy." His abysmal parents put him in what was tantamount to a prison for children, and at a young age, which left him with sincere, lifelong compassion for wayward, ill or mistreated boys, and for kids in general, and for prisoners.

                            Something which REALLY gripes me about the P.C. brigades who feel compelled to tear Ruth down nowadays--with one idiot at another site going so far as to say the modern players' cheating with steroids is balanced out by Ruth's obsessive-compulsive violation of Prohibition (giggle)--is that a lot of misinformed people seem to think Ruth was not just a drunk (which he of course was), but an abusive, nasty, vicious drunk.

                            That's just not so. As I noted, Creamer spent years researching his book and was told that although Ruth's incurable childish streak could exasperate people mightily, just about nobody except Leo Durocher actually disliked him.

                            He was like a giant, slobbery, hopelessly uncouth, ill-mannered Newfoundland dog that you just couldn't help but love.

                            BHN

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thank you one and all...

                              I have the Creamer and Smelser on the way!!!! Onward and upward from there.....

                              Thanks!
                              Always collecting Yankees...
                              Especially: Jeter, Posada, Munson, Melky Cabrera, Mattingly

                              Check out:
                              Waiting For The Mail Man: Our TTM Site
                              My Baseball Card Site


                              Good Traders : Dalkowski110, dmbfan, Freakazoid1014, actually I have had too many good trades to list everyone...

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