Friday, June 29, 2018

Books: On Babe Ruth

There are a pair of new books out on Babe Ruth, Gehrig & the Babe by Tony Castro, and The Age of Ruth and Landis by David George Surdam and Michael J. Haupert.

Gehrig & the Babe: The Friendship and the Feud
By Tony Castro 
Triumph Books

Tony Castro, author and former sports columnist, goes behind the scenes of Yankees legends Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth’s relationship, both on and off the field.
Ruth and Gehrig were big names on their own, but from the moment they were thrown together; they became known by many as just ‘Gehrig and the Babe.’ From their time as teammates to their contrasting personalities off the field, the dynamic duo have a story all their own. Now baseball fans can get the inside story at how a friendship forged by a shared love of the game was destroyed by a feud that proves not everything is always as it seems.
This detailed work has everything a true baseball fan would want to know about two of the Yankees' most famed players who made the franchise what it is.
Highlights include: The fateful day Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig first met at batting practice;  the history of where they grew up, how they got to the big leagues and more; all of the theories and insights about the feud and what actually took place to rip their friendship apart; chapters on the women in Gehrig and Ruth’s lives and how that affected their own relationship; aclose look at Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig’s personalities and how different they really were.
Castro writes of how they fit the many characteristics of the 1920s and '30s, "The names of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are intertwined in Americana and baseball lore like that of historic brothers or rivals. In truth, they were both and they were neither. They were teammates, a designation often as misleading as it is all-encompassing. Their lives and their careers happened to overlap during a troubling period in the nation, where at one point the excess of the 1920s belied the outlawing of alcohol and where at another the country's obsessive inwardness blinded it to the external forces that would forever change the world.
"Some might suggest that Babe Ruth symbolized the American of the Roaring '20s, Prohibition, and the Jazz Age - and Gehrig the sobering wake-up call of the Great Depression and the New Deal. That, however, might be as romantic as the notion that they were true contemporaries. Which, arguably they were not - at least not in the world of professional sports, where the designation of teammates can include a worldly veteran nearing the end of his career and a naive rookie barely beginning his own. Though the names Ruth and Gehrig will forever be inseparable in baseball legend, the men's differences offer testament to the incredible bonding forces of the game, both for players and for fans."
Full of inside stories and little-known facts, Gehrig and the Babe: The Friendship and the Feud is perfect for anyone who wants to know what went on off the field with these two baseball legends.
Castro is the author of other works on Yankees history, including Mickey Mantle: America's Prodigal Son, DiMag & Mick: Sibling Rivals, and Yankee Blood Brothers.

The Age of Ruth and Landis: The Economics of Baseball during the Roaring Twenties
By David George Surdam and Michael J. Haupert
Nebraska University Press

By analyzing the economic and financial aspects of Major League Baseball, The Age of Ruth and Landis shows how baseball during the 1920s experienced both strife and prosperity, innovation and conservatism.
With figures such as the incomparable Babe Ruth, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, and Eddie Collins, the decade featured an exciting brand of livelier baseball, new stadiums, and overall stability.
As the 1919 World Series scandal simmered throughout the 1920 season, tight pennant races drove attendance to new peaks and presaged a decade of general prosperity for baseball.
Babe Ruth shattered his own home-run record and, buoyed by a booming economy, professional sports enjoyed what sportswriters termed a “Golden Age of Sports.”
Throughout the tumultuous 1920s, Major League Baseball remained a mixture of competition and cooperation. Teams could improve by player trades, buying Minor League stars, or signing untried youths. Players and owners had their usual contentious relationship, with owners maintaining considerable control over their players.
Owners adjusted the game so that the 1920s witnessed a surge in slugging and a diminution in base stealing, and they provided a better ballpark experience by both improving their stadiums and minimizing disruptions by rowdy fans. However, they hesitated to adapt to new technologies such as radio, electrical lighting, and air travel.
The Major Leagues remained an enclave for white people, while African Americans toiled in the newly established Negro Leagues, where salaries and profits were skimpy.

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