Upon hearing the news that eight members of the Chicago White Sox had accepted money from gamblers in return for tanking the World Series, Babe Ruth said, "It was like hearing that my Church had sold out."
I'll bet you didn't know that about Babe Ruth.
I'll bet you also didn't know that while Ruth claimed to have had an older brother who was killed in a brawl, Ruth's sister said there never had been any such brother.
And I haven't even gotten to the golf shot Ruth hit on a frozen lake...allegedly the longest golf shot ever...or the time he threw a bowling ball that bounced off the ally, out the door, down the stairs, and then down a long hill to become the longest bowling shot ever. Did you know about those?
One of the themes of Leigh Montville's terrific biography of Ruth is that the Big Bam didn't do small. Ever. He was larger than life as a ballplayer, but he was similarly outsized in terms of everything else he did, and when he finally understood that he would not get a job managing a major league baseball team, even his disappointment was big.
Montville writes as if he's having a wonderful time chronicling Ruth's excesses, but he's also sensitive to the inevitable crash that comes when the world stops providing a forum within which Babe Ruth can be Babe Ruth. "The athlete, no matter who he is, once removed from his uniform, looks much older," Montville writes. "The Babe also looked lost."
This program aired on May 25, 2006. The audio for this program is not available.