Babe, The Legend Comes To Life by Robert W. Creamer (1974)
In this, the summer of baseball in the reading room, it was only a matter of time before I got to a Babe Ruth biography. I wish I could say I chose the one most highly acclaimed, but—I cannot tell a lie—I grabbed the only one I could find at Manchester’s West Side Library. As with every baseball book I’ve reached for, this bio of the Babe is a real gem. Can it be that there are no bad baseball books out there? I’ve moved on to another gem, the Boys of October on the 1975 Red Sox.
As I noted on my TV show, an old professor once taught me that quizzes are good not merely for grading students but also as means of reinforcing what was learned.
I’ve used that approach for 40 years, as will be noted if you watch my visit to the Essen Alte Synagogue (it’ll air Thursday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 6 a.m. and noon on Manchestertv23 and is now up on line at vimeo.com/channels/libertyx). There’s a 50 question quiz on German history there.
Following a session day last week, rather than “discuss” issues we disagreed on, I noted to Rep. Irene Messier that we could play a game of baseball trivia. She was game, and she was actually rather good at it (she knew the exact year the Chicago Cubs were most recently world champs).
Thus, in reading Babe, I’ve decided to get back in the game of trivia, and rather than offering a review here, let’s play.
1. True or False—All his life, Babe Ruth held a deep animosity toward the six foot, six inch Brother Matthias, the head of the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore (it wasn’t really an orphanage) where the Babe lived for most of his teenage years.
2. True or False—Although Babe Ruth was among the all time leaders in both home runs and lifetime batting percentage, he lifetime average as a pinch hitter was only .217.
3. Which uniform was the Babe wearing when he hit homer number 714, the last of his career? Boston Red Sox; New York Yankees; Boston Braves; Cleveland Indians; or Chicago Cubs.
Here are four men who managed the Babe for most of his major league career (although there were three others). Match them with the clues below.
4. Neither as Red Sox manager nor Yankee general manager did he get along well with the Babe. In fact, once they almost came to blows. As Red Sox manager, he was so in need of pitching that he didn't react well when the Babe wanted to give up pitching to become an every day player and hitter. As Yankee GM, he went on to become a legend.
5. He was undoubtedly the Babe's favorite manager.
6. Although he didn't hit it off well with the Babe at first (there's a story, probably not true, that the Babe dangled him by the feet off a railroad car), this five foot six inch "giant" of a manager ultimately became somewhat of a father figure for Ruth.
7. Babe thought he should have been named Yankee manager rather than this man (who, after much success in New York, went on to manage the Red Sox through some heart breaking moments, like the finales to the 1948 and 1949 seasons).
8. Add the number of women the Babe married to the number of children he fathered (at least legitimately fathered). What do you get?
9. How did the Babe's father die? Old age; cancer; drowned; in a fire; in a bar room brawl; shot through the head by his mother.
10. How Babe's wife Helen die? Old age; cancer; drowned; in a fire; shot by her second husband.
11. True or False--Author Creamer spends the better part of a page writing about how the Babe's sexual organ was much larger than the normal that of the normal man.
12. All teams combined, how many winning World Series was the Babe a part of and how many losing World Series teams.
13. Although the Babe never got to manage in the major leagues, he did serve as a base coach for a brief time. With which team? Yankees; Red Sox; Braves; Dodgers; or Giants.
1. False-- Ruth always admired Brother Matthias. 2. True-- (15 for 69) and Ty Cobb was even worse as a pinch hitter (.193). 3. The Boston Braves. 4. Ed Barrow. 5. Bill Carrigan (the first years with the Red Sox). 6. Miller Huggins. 7. Joe McCarthy. 8. Three (two wives and one daughter). 9. In a bar room brawl (he owned the bar). It was Ty Cobb's father was was shot by his mother...but that's another story. 10. In a fire (she had been separated from the Babe for three years). 11. False. Babe had a huge sexual drive, but the organ was apparently normal. Creamer does allude to Home Run Baker's unusually large organ. As for the Babe (page 321), "Babe's wasn't noticeably big. What was extraordinary was his ability to keep doing it all the time. He was continualy with women, morning and night. I don't know how he kept going." The Babe was also apparently very noisy in bed. "He was the noisiest fucker in North America, a whimsical friend recalled." 12. Six winning and four losing (3-0 with the Red Sox, 4-3 with the Yankees, all the more reason to become depressed when considering what the Red Sox could have been had they not sold him for cash to Colonel Ruppert and the Yankees.) 13. Brooklyn Dodgers--it was more of a gimmick to sell tickets than anything else.
The kind of stuff you really need to know. If you have a stumper question, add it below.
The Creamer book gets a five star rating, so apparently I chose well. I would quibble that he went into too much detail on play-by-play accounts from early in the Babe's career (even in the minor leagues) at the expense of delving into the later years as much as I would have preferred, but it's a mere quibble. It's a fun book.
Oh yes, the last year for a Cubs World Series win was 1908. I think I'll start rooting for the Cubbies.