The Big Fella
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.

The Big Fella Details

TitleThe Big Fella
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 16th, 2018
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780062380241
Rating
GenreBiography, Nonfiction, Sports, Baseball, Sports and Games, History

The Big Fella Review

  • Bob
    January 1, 1970
    Overall, Just An Average Book!Having enjoyed Jane Leavy's biographies of Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax, plus being a fan of Babe Ruth, I was expecting her newest book to be a "home run" for me.Unfortunately, my overall opinion of The Big Fella is that it is just an average read and one that, unlike my experience with Leavy's previous books, I found to be very easy to put down -- and not pick up again -- for fairly long stretches of time. This stems mainly from my opinion that Leavy tried to inc Overall, Just An Average Book!Having enjoyed Jane Leavy's biographies of Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax, plus being a fan of Babe Ruth, I was expecting her newest book to be a "home run" for me.Unfortunately, my overall opinion of The Big Fella is that it is just an average read and one that, unlike my experience with Leavy's previous books, I found to be very easy to put down -- and not pick up again -- for fairly long stretches of time. This stems mainly from my opinion that Leavy tried to include so many aspects from her research about "The Big Fella" and her thesis of "the world he created" that the book read more like a very long research paper than an attention-holding personal account of The Babe and how he lived his life.Don't get me wrong. I don't consider The Big Fella to be a bad book. To the contrary, I'm glad I read it, as there are many interesting facts interspersed throughout the book that I learned about Babe Ruth and the influence he had on the times in which he played, as well as after his playing days were over. However, the style in which the book was written kept me from being engrossed enough in the information presented to consider to be more than just an average book.I received an advance eBook of The Big Fella to review from Edelweiss and the publisher.
    more
  • Amileigh Gordon
    January 1, 1970
    #GoodreadsGiveaway
  • Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir
    January 1, 1970
    Veteran journalist Jane Leavy gave baby boomer fans a couple of excellent bios of the heroes of their youth with SANDY KOUFAX: A Lefty’s Legacy and THE LAST BOY: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood. Both should be considered among the best --- if not the best --- about their respective subjects. What could she possibly do for an encore?I am happy to report that THE BIG FELLA may be her best work yet. The topic is obviously not as personal to the author; she has been quite frank in h Veteran journalist Jane Leavy gave baby boomer fans a couple of excellent bios of the heroes of their youth with SANDY KOUFAX: A Lefty’s Legacy and THE LAST BOY: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood. Both should be considered among the best --- if not the best --- about their respective subjects. What could she possibly do for an encore?I am happy to report that THE BIG FELLA may be her best work yet. The topic is obviously not as personal to the author; she has been quite frank in her admiration for Mantle (at least until she had the opportunity to actually meet him while working on that book) and Koufax (the most iconic Jewish athlete for her generation), both of whom she had the chance to witness on the diamond. Babe Ruth, on the other hand, preceded her experience by a couple of generations.What she lacks in that “connection” is more than compensated for by her monumental research. In 1995, I delivered a paper titled “The Books on the Babe,” an overview of several biographies about the Hall of Famer, at Hofstra University during a centennial celebration of Ruth. None of the titles I mentioned --- including Robert Creamer’s seminal BABE: The Legend Comes to Life, which generally has been accepted as the definitive work on the subject --- comes close to THE BIG FELLA.There are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, Leavy does not cover much of the action on the field; those details have been done over and over again. She starts off each chapter with coverage of a barnstorming trip that Ruth undertook with Lou Gehrig in 1927. This is her way of explaining the impact that the Bambino had on the country, which did not have a chance to see him play in the handful of Major League cities at the time. She goes into further detail on his off-the-field antics, including his childhood and upbringing --- the topic of much discrepancy over the years --- as well as his “making up for lost time” in indulging his many appetites.Recall that this was the Roaring Twenties, a time following World War I when the country was letting loose: jazz, flappers, bootleg liquor during a time of Prohibition. And no one was more of a poster boy for that attitude than Babe Ruth, who was the first professional athlete to really capitalize. He engaged what might be considered the first sports agent to negotiate his numerous endorsements and appearances, activities that earned him as much as, if not more than, the salary he received during his peak years with the New York Yankees.Ruth also might be credited with making the sports section a major part of the many newspapers of the day (major metropolitan areas often had several different papers printing multiple editions during the course of the day), and making those who covered the game superstars in their own right. It might be hard to fathom in this post-paparazzi world, but back in the day, the media rarely reported on Ruth’s domestic life, his affairs and the drinking. Nowadays there might be entire cable channels devoted to his exploits. That’s not to say the press didn’t know about them, but it was a more genteel time.Another key note to giving THE BIG FELLA a different perspective is the availability of and access to research materials that have improved tremendously since Creamer’s book was published in 1974. Leavy deserves all possible credit not just in uncovering these gems, but also in presenting them in a lively and entertaining manner.With Mantle, Koufax and now Ruth in her oeuvre, one has to wonder if there’s a fourth legend for Leavy to add to her baseball Mount Rushmore.Reviewed by Ron Kaplan
    more
  • Don Gorman
    January 1, 1970
    (1 1/2). This book is interesting and boring at the same time. The overall picture of Babe Ruth, the way he made his living, which was as much as the first real sports celebrity on the planet because of his baseball prowess, is fascinating. But the blow by blow journal of these barnstorming and promotional events is almost numbing. The talent and ability of Christy Walsh, seemingly the first ever sports agent, is the real story here. The Babe's demise is very sad, and it gives this book some coh (1 1/2). This book is interesting and boring at the same time. The overall picture of Babe Ruth, the way he made his living, which was as much as the first real sports celebrity on the planet because of his baseball prowess, is fascinating. But the blow by blow journal of these barnstorming and promotional events is almost numbing. The talent and ability of Christy Walsh, seemingly the first ever sports agent, is the real story here. The Babe's demise is very sad, and it gives this book some cohesion at the end. A little to way too long, but something I had to try as a true Yankee/baseball nut.
    more
  • Rob Neyer
    January 1, 1970
    Leavy set for herself an almost impossible task: Tell the story of Babe Ruth's life as it's never been told before.And guess what: She pulls it off, with hardly a glitch along the way. Leavy chose to use a 1927 barnstorming tour - the Bustin' Babes vs. the Larrupin' Lous - as the framework for her narrative, and travels back and forth between the cross-country tour and a (generally) chronological account of Ruth's life. In the hands of almost any author, this simply would not have worked. But in Leavy set for herself an almost impossible task: Tell the story of Babe Ruth's life as it's never been told before.And guess what: She pulls it off, with hardly a glitch along the way. Leavy chose to use a 1927 barnstorming tour - the Bustin' Babes vs. the Larrupin' Lous - as the framework for her narrative, and travels back and forth between the cross-country tour and a (generally) chronological account of Ruth's life. In the hands of almost any author, this simply would not have worked. But in Leavy's hands, it does work. And despite having read innumerable books about the Babe, some of them quite good, I learned all sorts of things I never knew before.
    more
  • Aggie Sanders
    January 1, 1970
    Boring. Couldn't get past chapter 4.
Write a review