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Babe: The Legend Comes to Life (1974)

by Robert Creamer

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Terrific biography of the incomparable Babe Ruth, but also a wonderful glimpse at the game of baseball as it was in the 1910's, 20's, and 30's. Received this book from my father-in-law over twenty-five years ago, why it took so long for me to read it I have no idea. ( )
  5hrdrive | Jun 11, 2011 |
Wonderful, compassionate biography of a larger than life character who was a real man. ( )
  dbeveridge | Jun 9, 2010 |
I have been looking forward to reading this book for a while, ever since I read Baseball in '41 some time ago. Also, I wanted to know more about this mythical figure that looms over baseball in so many ways. But until I started to follow baseball a few years ago, I had literally no idea who Babe Ruth was. I think I may have heard his name, but with no context.

So, is this book a good introduction to this legendary sportsman? I would say yes. Robert Creamer has a very easygoing style. It is as if he were sitting next to you in a pub, telling a story over a pint of beer. The book seems to assume that the reader may know very little about Babe Ruth himself, though it does presume some basic knowledge of baseball (which is fine, after all who but someone with some interest in baseball would be reading a book on Babe Ruth?). It starts with a chapter on his legend, to place his life in the context of what follows and continues to this day. The next chapter starts with his birth, and sets the scene.

This first portion of the book - which goes from his birth to his trade to the Yankees, including him becoming a professional baseball pitcher and then the switch to a fulltime hitter - was for me the most interesting. This is in part because his exploits as a hitter - the home runs in all their majestic glory - I already know a little about. But his origins and his pitching were virtually unknown to me, so it was just damned interesting to find out more.

The second portion of the book is the main bulk, and is his time at the Yankees, including the separation from his first wife, his relations with the women who would become his second wife after his first wife's death, and also the stormy relationship with his managers, and the showdown he had with Landis - and, of course, all those home runs. What interested me most in this section was not so much Ruth himself, but the other characters that played a part in his story, particularly Gehrig, Huggins, Barrow, and a few others.

The final portion goes from when he left the Yankees to his death, and I found this a little disappointing. Perhaps this is because, in many respects, after Babe left baseball the rest of his life was disappointing. While he played he was a legend, and did great things. After he retired, nothing he did amounted to very much (in this he reminds me, strangely, of Oskar Schindler, who after the war ended also did very little of note). I think part of the problem is that Creamer choose to put the chapter on his legend at the start of his book, and I think I would have preferred it at the end.

This is something of a quibble however. Creamer does an excellent job of painting the pictures of the past on the canvass of the printed page. His does a marvellous job at imaging the characters of his story - of Ruth himself obviously, but also all the others who made up world, with the curious exception of Ruth's first wife Helen. He tells plenty of anecdotes, but is also careful to distinguish from what is probably true, and what is probably exaggerated. On a couple of the most famous episodes - for example the called home run shot - he goes into quite some detail, which in its way is interesting of an example of how a legend can grow.

Ultimately I read through this book swiftly and with great enjoyment. I would recommend it to anyone just starting to explore baseball's past. More seasoned baseball fans may find less in this book as they may already know more things, but I would still recommend it.

Verdit: A- ( )
  stnylan | May 18, 2008 |
3762. Babe: The Legend Comes to Life, by Robert W. Creamer (read June 23 2003) This biography of Babe Ruth came out I think in 1974. It is "popular" rather than academic but tells the story well, warts and all. The book is super easy to read, as I have more affinity to the baseball of Ruth's time than I do for today's baseball since so many who played in his time were still prominent in 1938 when I became totally absorbed in major league baseball. I do not see how a better biography of Ruth could be written--a great book to read. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 12, 2007 |
Warts and all welcome to the legend that is Babe Ruth. Uncluttered and forward this book gives a great insight to the life of the greatest ball player ever. the authors feelings never come into this great story and he gives multiple versions of "lore" when several sources move in different directions. ( )
  bryanspellman | May 20, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067176070X, Paperback)

"I swing big, with everything I've got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can." -- Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth is without a doubt the most famous character ever produced by the sport of baseball. A legendary player, world-famous for his hitting prowess, he transcended the sport to enter the mainstream of American life as an authentic folk hero.

In this extraordinary biography, noted sportswriter Robert W. Creamer reveals the complex man behind the sports legend. From Ruth's early days in a Baltimore orphanage, to the glory days with the Yankees, to his later years, Creamer has drawn a classic portrait of an American original.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Portrays the struggles and achievements of baseball's most colorful hero.

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