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The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs: Recrowning Baseball's Greatest Slugger Paperback – February 9, 2007

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In this exhaustively researched examination of Babe Ruth's storied career, Jenkinson argues that the Bambino was the greatest slugger of all time, not Barry Bonds, not Sammy Sosa, not Hank Aaron, and not Roger Maris. To make his point, he approaches Ruth from three perspectives. First, he discusses and analyzes Ruth's historic batting power, relying on original newspaper accounts. Second, he examines Ruth's "hidden" career of about 800 exhibition games. Third, he does a degree-of-difficulty analysis between the various conditions (equipment, medical sophistication, and press scrutiny, among other factors) Ruth experienced and those of sluggers in other eras. For example, Ruth injured a knee early in his career, and it was a recurring problem. It would have been easily repaired with modern medicine. Current conventional sports wisdom holds modern athletes are bigger, faster, stronger, and therefore better. Here we have the carefully researched, imaginatively argued contrary position. Great reading for any baseball fan, but especially those whose passions are ignited by comparisons of players from different eras. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"In a fresh perspective on Ruth's position in the pantheon of sport and American heroes, we are spared `gee-whiz' adulation and presented with meticulous research that stands on its own." -- Denver Post

"This fascinating, in-depth study (based on 28 years of research!) argues that Ruth hit baseballs farther than any man in the game--ever." -- Playboy

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (February 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786719060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786719068
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By R. Torstenson on May 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is unlike any other on Babe Ruth, and I have read quite a few most recently Montville's "Big Bam" and Reisler's treatise on the 1920 season. Jenkinson has spent nearly 30 years recreating all of Ruth's long drives, those counted as homers and those that may have just been flyouts. I had no idea that records this detailed could be obtained from Ruth's era, but Jenkinson has read every sportswriting account imaginable for each official game and for hundreds of exhibition (preseason, during season, and postseason) games that Ruth participated in.

I had always labored under the assumption, even after reading all the bios, that many of Ruth's homeruns were simply the product of the short right field at Yankee Stadium. In fact, the Babe hit very few down the right field line; most of his drives were between right-center and left-center field. Right-center was quite a shot in Ruth's day since the fence angled out sharply. The Babe also had tremendous power to the opposite field.

Jenkinson's "spray" diagrams show all the homeruns hit by Ruth and their approximate distances. Aerial photos of the stadiums around Ruth's time are also shown and arrows shown where Babe's longest drives landed.

A second assumption of mine is that Babe did not take care of himself over the years. In fact, the man wanted to exercise more but the Yankee ball club would not let him in order "to save his legs" for the long season. Ruth had taken it upon himself before spring training started, for several seasons, to hire one of the best exercise gurus in New York. The fact that Ruth could keep coming back strong after all his early season illnesses and nagging injuries shows the fortitude of the man.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Barry Sparks VINE VOICE on September 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you've read "The Big Bam" by Leigh Montville and/or "Babe" by Robert Creamer, you owe it to yourself to read Bill Jenkinson's book. Although you may think it's not possible, Ruth was a better slugger than you ever imagined. He was truly one of a kind.

Jenkinson's book is interesting, fascinating and meticulously well researched. He spent more than 25 years researching each of Ruth's home runs, during spring training, the regular season, post season and on barnstorming tours.

Part of Jenkinson's book details Ruth's "hidden career" of exhibition games. Jenkinson calculates that Ruth participated in 800 exhibition games in six countries, 42 states and more than 200 cities. He blasted more than 300 homers in those games. In 1921, Ruth played an unbelievable total of 207 games. A consummate showman, Ruth kept an incredible schedule, not to mention his off-the-field activities.

Jenkinson focuses on Ruth's power and superlatives. The Bambino didn't hit many routine home runs. Most fans really don't comprehend how spacious the ballparks were in Ruth's days. Jenkinson calculates that Ruth walloped 22 fly outs that traveled more than 450 feet. No one has ever hit as many balls as far as Ruth. What he could do in today's ballparks is unfathomable.

Jenkinson spends 70 pages near the end of the book discussing comparative difficulty of Ruth's home run feats compared to today's game, drawing conclusions and making projections. Stadium photographs showing where some of Ruth's monumental homers landed are particularly interesting and impressive.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By brio on July 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any historian or student of history must engage in countless hours of research in order to convincingly prove his thesis. Mr. Jenkinson succeeds with flying colors. The most fascinating section of this book is the one dealing with comparative difficulty. Jenkinson leaves no doubt that Ruth played under much more adverse conditions than modern day sluggers. I telephoned Mr. Jenkinson about a couple of points of comparison not mentioned in his book that had me wondering. One was the fact that Ruth played against only 7 teams and faced pitchers much more frequently (4-man rotations) than today's players. Could this be considered an advantage for Ruth. Jenkinson replied that after a while it really doesn't matter how often a hitter faces a pitcher. Another point I made was the fact that during day games, which Ruth played exclusively, shadows can hinder the batter's view. Again Jenkinson said that while this may have been a disadvantage for Ruth, the impact would have been negligent.
I must say that his willingness to discuss these issues (and others) with a reader of his fine book only makes his work more appreciated. I am looking forward to his next book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jay Edwards on March 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Its great to be able to read a book that has taken so many , many hours of labor and yielded so much useful information.
After reading the detailed analyses and descriptions in this book it is hard to argue the conclusion that Babe Ruth hit the ball harder and farther than anyone else-- with his much-too-heavy bat reducing bat speed and no weight training, much less artificial enhancements ala MC Quire and Bonds. Even on steroids, the latter two cannot touch the Bambino for 450 foot + shots. Its not even close. And consider Babe routinely bombed 400 --475 + footers that were fly outs in the huge old fields of the 20s and 30s--
So the truth actually transcscends the myth-- Ruth was better than his legend.
With some aerobic work and strength training, modern medical care, a lighter bat, modern day fields and the DH rule...
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