More than seventy years after his death, Babe Ruth continues to fascinate generations of fans.
Welcome to the April 7th stop on the blog tour for Lore of the Bambino by Jonathan Weeks with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, author guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
RUTH AND GEHRIG AT ODDS
Many fans of historical Yankee baseball are under the impression that Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were close friends. They weren’t. Especially after the 1932 campaign. Ruth’s public image as a mentor to Gehrig was manufactured to a great extent by the Babe’s personal agent, Christy Walsh. If Walsh hadn’t brought them together, it’s doubtful the two would have forged a bond beyond the confines of the ballfield. They were polar opposites. Gehrig was humble, reserved, and respectful of authority figures. Ruth was none of those things.
The disparity between the two men was readily apparent whenever they got together for a round of bridge. Ruth always drank during the games while Gehrig—an extremely cautious player—preferred to remain sober. The Babe invariably made outrageous bids, knowing that it drove Gehrig crazy. Many of the sessions ended with Gehrig abruptly throwing his cards on the table in frustration and asking Ruth to tally up the final score. Yet, in spite of their differences, Ruth and Gehrig maintained a friendly relationship (for awhile anyway), fishing together during the offseason and interacting regularly with one another’s families.
At some point during the 1932 season, a major disagreement occurred. Ruth had always liked Gehrig’s mother, Christina, and the meals she prepared. He sometimes brought his daughter, Dorothy, along with him when he visited her home. But after the death of his first wife, Helen, the Babe was not as warmly received. When Dorothy showed up at the Gehrig home one day looking somewhat disheveled, Christina commented that Ruth’s stepdaughter, Julia, often appeared in public wearing fancy clothing while Dorothy was forced to wear hand-me-downs. When the slugger’s second wife, Claire, heard about the remark, she issued a direct order to the Babe: “Tell Lou to muzzle his mother.” Ruth was none too happy himself and, during a clubhouse confrontation, he bluntly told Gehrig that his mother “should mind her own goddamn business.” Gehrig—a Mama’s boy since early childhood—was highly offended by the remark. The two men argued bitterly and had to be separated by teammates. It was the end of their friendship. Though they posed for group photos and traveled together with the team, they stopped speaking. Gehrig even refused to shake Ruth’s hand after his home runs.
Hostility between the two men was rekindled in 1937, when Ruth made some disparaging remarks to reporters. By then, the Babe had retired as a player while Gehrig was padding his “Iron Man” record. Gehrig’s streak of consecutive games stood at 1,808 at the end of the ’36 campaign. Offering his unabashed opinion to reporters, Ruth commented, “I think Lou’s making one of the biggest mistakes a ballplayer can make by keeping up that ‘Iron Man’ stuff. He’s already cut three years off his baseball life with it. He ought to learn how to sit on the bench and rest because the Yankees aren’t going to pay off on how many games in a row he’s played.” Ruth’s words really got under Gehrig’s skin. The Yankee first baseman told writers that he felt fine and knew how much his body could handle. He assured them that he would bench himself if he became a detriment to the club.
That day arrived in 1939, when Gehrig was afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—a progressive neurological disorder that can lead to paralysis and premature death. The feud between Ruth and Gehrig continued until the day of Gehrig’s famous “Luckiest Man” speech, when “The Iron Horse” finally accepted a public gesture of affection from the Babe.
About the Book
Lore of the Bambino
100 Great Babe Ruth Stories
by Jonathan Weeks
Published 1 April 2022
Genre: Non-Fiction, Sports History, Biography
Page Count: 224
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
More than seventy years after his death, Babe Ruth continues to fascinate generations of fans. His exciting adventures on and off the field have become essential reading for students of baseball and pop culture. While most Ruth biographies are filled with mundane facts, Lore of the Bambino is the equivalent of a greatest hits compilation. Ruth’s extraordinary (and at times incredulous) tales carry readers on an enthralling journey through the life of the most celebrated sports figure of the twentieth century. All of the most popular anecdotes (such as the Babe’s alleged “called shot” in the 1932 World Series) are thoroughly covered along with many lesser known narratives.
Though his hitting was quite extraordinary, Ruth was only slightly above average as an outfielder. On the plus side, he had a strong, accurate arm. On the negative side, he was a bit clumsy at times, finishing among the top five in errors during eight seasons. On August 20, 1923, he was forced to make one of the trickiest catches of his career.
During the ninth inning of a 16-5 Yankee blowout in Chicago, a dog got loose somehow and wandered into leftfield, where Ruth was stationed. With the game well in hand, the playful Yankee slugger began clowning around. He got down on all fours and followed the dog around. He then removed his glove and threw it, prompting the canine to fetch. As the Babe’s new friend ran off with his mitt, rookie pitcher Paul Castner hit a fly ball to left field. Ruth caught the ball bare-handed for the first out of the inning. The Chicago crowd roared with laughter and gave the Babe an appreciative round of applause.
Ruth’s adventures in the outfield were numerous. He once got his finger caught in the right field screen at Yankee Stadium, tearing his nail off in the process. During a spring training game, he ran headfirst into a palm tree in pursuit of a fly ball. Even so, his lifetime fielding percentage was slightly above the league average at the time of his retirement.
About the Author
A lifelong sports fan, Weeks has published several non-fiction books on the topic of baseball. Additionally, he has two novels to his credit–one of them a posthumous collaboration with his father. His latest project: Best of the Bruins: Boston’s All Time Great Players and Coaches, is due out in 2021.
Jonathan Weeks will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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