BIG STICKS: The Batting Revolution of the Twenties by William Curran
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BIG STICKS: The Batting Revolution of the Twenties

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Fascinating account of a decade of baseball thunder and the giants who sparked it. During the 1910's, according to Curran (Mitts, 1985), baseball was a game of walks, steals, sacrifices, and defense--much like an Astroturf game today. The best barometer for the revolution that stuck around 1920 is the best player of all, Babe Ruth: in 1918, Ruth hit only 18 home runs, but in 1920 he clouted 54. Second only to Ruth amongst 1920's sluggers was Lou Gehrig, who averaged a staggering 147 runs-batted-in per season, and whom Curran clearly idolizes (""I still blink when I review Gehrig's batting record""). The bats of these Yankee titans and their peers boomed so loudly that by 1930, teams averaged an astonshing 11.1 runs per game. Fans adored this power barrage; attendance skyrocketed, and baseball became entrenched as a money-making supersport. But what led to this explosion? Curran defies conventional wisdom by asserting (with some solid evidence) that there was no souped-up ""rabbit ball"" introduced in 1920; rather, batters were simply smarter and larger. The rise and fall of the spitball, the vicious managerial style of Ty Cobb, some frantic pennant races, and the glories of the minor leagues also come under Curran's elegant analysis. Baseball lore in abundance, knocked out with panache and punch. A home run all the way.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow