THE LIFE THAT RUTH BUILT: A Biography by Marshall Smelser


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A tome statistically superior to Robert Creamer's personable Babe: The Legend Comes to Life of last year, this ponderously detailed version is the most outsized, Ruthian of bios to date. A wayward Baltimore street boy, George Herman Ruth is seen to have enjoyed a ""postponed childhood"" in the progressive, reformist St. Mary's Industrial School Often overlooked is the fact that Ruth was a standout as a Red Sox pitcher several years before he began socking home runs as a Yankee slugger. Deemed an instinctive and complete ballplayer--with a .342 lifetime batting average--the Babe is safely categorized as being ""earthy. . . free-spirited and open-hearted."" His happy-go-lucky disposition turned bitter in his retirement; Ruth felt ""abused and betrayed"" when he didn't get the manager's job he thought he'd earned with his record. Lamentably, his raison d'etre came to an abrupt halt once the cheering finally stopped ten years before his death. Inclusive and definitive, a dry testimonial to the game's only demigod.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co.