While I am no baseball fan, I played my share of baseball as a kid. I had a favorite bat (still have it), a favorite glove, and a favorite baseball player (Al Kaline). But even though I grew up five decades after Babe Ruth played, I had heard about him more than any other “old-time” player. Every kid in those days knew (1) if you had a Babe Ruth baseball card, you would be rich, and (2) in 1974 Hank Aaron finally beat Ruth’s all-time home run record which had stood for 34 years.
This book details the life and times of Babe Ruth, an American icon from the Roaring Twenties. He is considered by some to be the greatest baseball player ever. His achievements show why. He was the first to hit 50 homers, then 60 homers in a season. He was the first to hit 500 homers in a career. He is listed as 1st all-time for slugging percentage, 2nd for all-time RBI’s, 9th for all-time batting average. He was a 7x World Series Champion, a 12x AL home run champion, a 6x AL RBI champion, and he is still on record for hitting the longest home run.
Yes, stats and details. This book is full of them. I found myself skipping through the details of some of the games described in this book. Unless there was some significant record that was made or broken. I paid more attention to the details of Ruth’s personal life as he bumbled through marriages, held out for big money contracts, survived car crashes, and enjoyed all-nite parties only to arrive at the ballpark the next day and hit another home run. It makes one wonder what he could have achieved if he had been better “grounded” and lived a healthier lifestyle.
But for me, one of the things that makes Ruth stand out from all other baseball players is that he was an excellent pitcher at the start of his career before he became a batting champion. He had a career ERA of 2.28. He pitched 29 consecutive World Series innings without giving up a run. You can find a lot of players that can hit and pitch in kid’s leagues across America. You can find a few at the high school level. But at the professional level, it is almost unheard of. Babe Ruth was an exceptional baseball player.
But despite all the greatness covered in this book, I do not think I would read it again. The book has just too many details about individual games to be interesting to me a second time. And I don’t even think I would read another book by the author, Robert W. Creamer. He seems to have made a career about writing about baseball. But as I mentioned in the beginning, I am really not that big of a fan. For these reasons and others not mentioned here, I give this book three stars out of five. The story of Babe Ruth should be of great interest to people who love baseball. And this book does a great job of covering the story. But for the rest of us, unless you are interested in reading about the this sometimes lovable, sometimes detestable, mostly mythical man who once dominated baseball and captured the imaginations of millions of Americans, then I do not recommend that you read it.