Malkin Lecture: The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

In the 1920s, Babe Ruth was the biggest thing in baseball—and in America’s galaxy of celebrities. He swung the heaviest bat, earned the most money, and incurred the largest fines. After hitting his 60th home run in September 1927, he and teammate Lou Gehrig embarked on the mother of all barnstorming tours, a three-week victory lap across America that one newspaper called “the biggest show since Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, and seven other associated circuses offered their entire performance under one tent.” Aided by his crucial partnership with Christy Walsh—business manager, spin doctor, damage-control wizard, and surrogate father—Ruth drafted the blueprint for modern athletic stardom. Drawing on her new book, The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created, Jane Leavy will discuss Ruth’s journey from Baltimore to the big league to the center of the nation’s adulation. In conversation with Yankees expert Marty Appel, she will go behind the mythology to uncover the man whose approach to the game and to life was always to hit it with all you’ve got.

Jane Leavy is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Last Boy, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy and the comic novel Squeeze Play, which Entertainment Weekly called “the best novel ever written about baseball.” She was a staff writer at The Washington Post from 1979 to 1988, first in the sports section, then writing for the style section. She covered baseball, tennis, and the Olympics for the paper. Before joining the Post, she was a staff writer at womenSports and Self magazines. She has also written for the New York Times, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, The Village Voice, and The New York Daily News.

Marty Appel started his career in baseball at age 19 when he was hired by the Yankees to answer Mickey Mantle’s fan mail back in 1968. He went on to become the youngest public relations director in baseball history. Appel is considered one of the nation’s leading historians on the Yankees, and has written twenty-four books including Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss (2014) and Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character (2017).

Image: Babe Ruth, 1921. Photo Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-32385

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Monday, December 2

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