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

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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

Review

"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; 1st Printing edition (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 (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read over a dozen boooks about Babe Ruth. This book is different, and it's great. It covers aspects of Babe Ruth that none of the other books do. Unfortuneately, the pictures don't display well on a kindle (and I have the big kindle), and the "spray diagrams" are virtually unreadable. I own stock in Amazon, I want the kindle to be a success, but it has its limitations. For the money I could have gotten the paperback book, but I'm trying to get used to using the kindle. That's the only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5.
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Highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Babe Ruth, the greatest American cultural icon of the 20th century, or with an interest in the baseball history. This well-written and well-researched book documents what many of Babe's contemporaries, including Hall-of-Famers, said about him: "No one like him". Most interesting to me is the documentation of the size of the ballparks that Babe used to play in and hit home runs out of. When I hear modern-day baseball fans compare modern ballplayers to Ruth and say the moderns are better, they clearly don't know about the differences between modern baseball and Ruthian-era baseball that made it -much- more difficult to hit home runs during Ruth's career. This book analyzes those differences, with a particular emphasis on ballpark size. Center-field fences averaged 490 feet from home plate, with some such as Shibe Park in Philly exceeding 500 feet. During Barry Bonds's 73-homer season in 2001, his longest homer was 462 feet, and most of Bonds' homers would have been loud outs in Ruth's day. Ruth regularly hit 500+ foot home runs, which is very rare among today's sluggers, even those players known to have used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Ruth is truly unique and, by far, the greatest baseball player of all time. There never was, and never will be, anyone else like him.
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