14 August 2006 | bkoganbing
With all the Baseball love, should have been better
When I was a lad I remember taking the book this film was based on out of the Brooklyn Public Library. Babe Ruth's ghost written memoirs by Bob Considine were considered so innocuous that it could be found in the children's section of the library.
The Babe had only been gone from us for about seven years when I read the book and saw the film. The film is as how he would like to have been remembered. Of course it was hardly the character he was. Left out of this film is the hedonism that ran rampant in his persona, the drinking, the womanizing, the brawling.
What gets me about this film is that William Bendix was a huge baseball fan, in fact he was a bat boy for the New York Giants as a kid. So too, was William Frawley when he wasn't drinking you could find him at a game in a given city during the season.
Some of the bare bones facts of Ruth's life are covered and some of the stories attributed about Ruth are presented here. Left conspicuously out of the film are Ruth's first wife and daughter. This was a film intended for kids and that wouldn't have quite fit.
In a recent biography of Ruth, I learned that the Considine book wasn't even Considine's. Bob Considine was a fine journalist and reporter who was not a sportswriter per se. Ruth agreed to the memoirs while he was undergoing treatment for cancer to leave a permanent legacy. But he proved such a difficult subject to interview because he dominated the sessions with his own rollicking anecdotes when he wasn't in pain from the illness. Long time Ruth friend and noted baseball writer Fred Lieb helped Considine with the book with no credit as Lieb ghosted a whole lot of the book himself helped by his encyclopedic knowledge of Ruthiana.
In that era of the Twenties, what has been termed the Golden Age of Sports, Babe Ruth's was the brightest star in the sports world. He was a larger than life figure, down to the fact that his excesses were larger than life. He transformed his sport to one of power from one of speed. He drew sellout in every American League city, transformed the New York Yankees into the greatest sports franchise ever.
Ruth had a couple of good made for TV films about him that were closer to the truth. But he deserved what Lou Gehrig got, a big A budget film from someone like Samuel Goldwyn.
Still he did better in a biographical film than Jackie Robinson.