The Book On Babe

Authors take a swing at telling Ruth’s tale

Babe Ruth’s life is rich with myths, fables and anecdotes that range from very real to incredibly ridiculous. With stories crossing over from baseball-focused to a more cultural significance, it is no wonder there are more than a few books written about American legend. Here are a few written works to get the Ruth fan started.

Babe: The Legend Comes to Life (1974)

By Robert W. Creamer

In what Time magazine called “The first really adult biography of the Babe, as well as one of the best, and least sentimental, books about a great sports figure ever written,” Creamer’s book is a no-holds-barred biography about the Sultan of Swat. The book also does plenty of hard-lifting in examining baseball itself in terms of what it means to American culture and the state of the world in which Ruth thrived. Creamer clearly is a student of the game, showing much more than merely a passing knowledge of the sport. He even appeared in the Ken Burns sprawling 1994 documentary, Baseball, where he spoke about, as a young boy, witnessing Ruth sock home runs in person.

Babe Ruth As I Knew Him (1948)

By Waite Hoyt

This mainly boils down to a tribute publication published shortly after Babe Ruth’s death in 1948. It was written by Ruth’s teammate and friend, Waite Hoyt, and is presented as the “intimate story of Ruth’s fabulous career,” and includes many photographs from throughout the Babe’s career. More desired for its appeal as a collectible rather than a treasure trove of Ruth information, the book is scarce on the public market and fetches a hefty price tag.

The Babe Ruth Story (1948)

By Bob Considine

Another book that celebrates the myth more than the man, The Babe Ruth Story is a great collector’s item for the die hard Ruth/Yankee fan. Currently out of print, but available in some circles (if you’re willing to spend the money), it’s got plenty of photos and tall tales of Ruth’s greatest days on the baseball diamond.

The House That Ruth Built: A New Stadium, the First Yankees Championship, and the Redemption of 1923 (2011)

By Robert Weintraub

Sports columnist Robert Weintraub examines the 1923 Yankees, the team that opened the new Yankees Stadium and won the first of the Bronx Bombers’ record 27 World Series titles. In its review of the book, Publisher’s Weekly said, “The book is comprehensive, and Weintraub details everything from the construction of the stadium and the careers of Ruth and [John] McGraw [New York Giants manager] to a detailed season overview and deconstruction of the 1923 World Series.” Publisher’s Weekly also stated that “The stories about Ruth and McGraw hold the narrative together, but it is the asides of forgotten personalities like Mose “The Rabbi of Swat” Solomon, Russ “Pep” Youngs, and Yankees co-owner Cap Huston that create a much-needed undercurrent of character and humor.”

The Big Bam (2007)

By Leigh Montville

From the award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Ted Williams comes this original, ambitious and colorful biography of the Ruth gargantuan legend. Ruth loomed large in baseball—and in sports in general—and this book illustrates that. Based on newly discovered documents and interviews, including pages from Ruth’s personal scrapbooks, this book traces Ruth’s life from his bleak childhood in Baltimore to his brash entrance into professional baseball, from Boston to New York and into the record books as the world’s most explosive slugger and cultural luminary.

Playing The Game: My Early Years In Baseball (2011)

By Babe Ruth, William R. Cobb, Paul Dickson

This collection of a series of 12 articles written by Ruth (with a ghostwriter, probably) for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, features Ruth reminiscing about his rough childhood and his life as he entered the big leagues. It also features his commentary on the 1920 season, pennant race and World Series. For a long time these musing were only available to history buffs, but this book brings it all together in a neat package for baseball fans. There are also 30 historic photos, with an introduction by sports historian Paul Dickson.

Gehrig & The Babe: The Friendship and the Feud (2018)

By Tony Castro

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth were both legends of baseball, but also very different men. This book details the pair’s relationship as teammates, but goes far beyond that with stories about them away from the game and how a feud tore them apart until Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap said of the book, “Tony Castro’s new book is Gehrig & The Babe: The Friendship and The Feud, the ultimate teammates—Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Murderers Row—fascinating story told in full really for the first time, 70-plus years after their death.”

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Steve Mosco
Steve Mosco, the former editor-in-chief at Anton Media Group, is a columnist for Long Island Weekly's food and sports sections. He fancies himself a tastemaker, food influencer and king of all eaters.

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