The Sultan of Swat. The Colossus of Clout. The King of Crash. The Great Bambino.
Babe Ruth died over 70 years ago, but his legend still lives on in big league stadiums and little league fields across America. While we know a lot about Ruth’s baseball career, little was known about his early life and how it shaped him to become America’s first superstar athlete and celebrity. My guest today sought to remedy that in her recently published biography: The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created. Her name is Jane Leavy, and she’s a former sports journalist and the author of two other biographies of baseball greats. We begin our conversation discussing Ruth’s sad and difficult childhood in a Baltimore boarding school and how he learned to play baseball from the Xaverian brothers who ran it. We then shift to how Ruth’s hunger for affirmation helped him become the country’s first real celebrity, and how his baseball career coincided with the burgeoning fields of public relations and technology, ushering in a new era in sports writing, endorsements, and entertainment. We end our conversation discussing Ruth’s legacy in the world, and business, of professional sports.
- Why Jane decided to write a new biography of Babe Ruth
- Babe’s destructive childhood
- How Babe got into baseball
- Ruth’s relationship with Christy Walsh (the first sports agent)
- The mass media revolution and how people consumed sports
- The legend vs. reality of Babe Ruth
- How Babe’s improprieties were finally exposed
- “Gee whiz” journalists vs. “Ah nuts” journalists
- Babe Ruth as husband and father
- Ruth’s response to getting cancer
- How did Babe change baseball? Why are we still fascinated by him?
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- Babe by Robert Creamer
- Bob Feller
- Christy Walsh
- 15 Best Baseball Movies
- How to Catch a Souvenir Baseball
- 7 Pitching Grips Every Man Should Know
- How to Break in a Baseball Glove
- Scoring a Baseball Game With Pencil and Paper
- Grantland Rice
Connect With Jane
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